Last year, Team Valkyrie Autosport took the E0 win over Rearden Racing, both of which were racing Nissan Z cars. It was the first time a Nissan Z car had won any class at the 25 Hour.
Rearden Racing returned with its 370Z and Valkyrie brought back its 350Z looking to repeat last year’s win, although the team didn’t make the decision to defend its E0 title until late in the season.
“It’s always a little difficult because you now have this expectation of wanting to back up the win, and we actually decided to run this race about three weeks ago,” said crew chief Christina Brady. “We normally are much more prepared than this, but at the last minute, we were like, ‘We can’t let someone take our championship without a fight, so we literally just bombed on the car for the last three weeks and are here. I’m kind of amazed we’re even in P2 right now.”
Last year, the team battled a leaky power-steering rack throughout most of the race. By the time the race was over, the right side of the car was caked with fluid, rubber and dirt. This year, the steering system held, but they lost third gear not long after sunset Saturday night. The transmission in the car was the same one they ran in last year’s 25 and throughout the 2017 WERC season.
Part of the challenge of the 25 Hours of Thunderhill is choosing the right car for a given class. In E0, E36 and E46 BMWs have been prominent. In fact, seven of the 19 cars in E0 in 2017 were BMWs. But Brady pointed out that the Nissan Z cars don’t require anything more than a BMW in terms of modifications. The Valkyrie Z has a big brake kit from StopTech, a few suspension components from SPL Parts a tune from FFTech, a fuel surge pod, a big radiator and coolers for the transmission and differential.
“The biggest thing on this car is just keeping it cool, but you’d be surprised how little you have to do to these cars to run this race,” Brady said. “It’s been a really beefy car. It’s a little heavy, but they’re made that way. I think people are starting to realize it’s a good endurance car.”
Team Valkyrie Autosport finished third in E0.