Last year the big news from the 25 Hours of Thunderhill was how the Flying Lizard team had won overall and class for the third year in a row. What didn’t get as much press, yet merits as much respect, is that Team RA Motorsports also won the E3 class for the third consecutive year.
The big news this year is that Team Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard won overall and class for the fourth year in a row. Not to be outdone, Team RA Motorsports also won E3 for the fourth time in as many years. Of course, it wasn’t as easy as they made it look. It was a hard slog hour after hour, complete with lead changes among four teams, body contact and penalties. Team owner Ron Gayman was too busy with team duties to keep track of the action on track.
“In all honesty, with the four cars, I actually did not look at RaceHero until 4 in the morning, and then suddenly we were in first. Then we kind of just stayed in first and kept plugging away,” he said.
Team Neth Racing Works, which had the lead at several hour marks on Saturday, battled with four other teams, but contact also came into play for them, as did a penalty for too many crew members over the wall.
“The leading car lost control, and our driver was trying to get around him, but as he was going by, the other car went right into the door,” said driver Josh Allan. “We managed to keep it running for several driver’s stints, but then we had wheel bearing issues, so we had to go back and replace both sides and then the car ran flawlessly for the rest of the race and we maintained a constant gap to the leaders of about seven or eight laps. I feel like we ran a really solid race, and if it hadn’t been for the repairs, we’d have been fighting for the lead for sure.”
Team Tazio Ottis finished third in a car that had enjoyed a thorough build process, with enough time to do things right, but little to no hours of testing. The Honda Civic hatchback arrived at Thunderhill with less than 100 track miles on it, according to team owner Tazio Ottis. He said one key to the team’s success was the car’s excellent fuel economy, which allowed them to say out 20 to 30 minutes longer than the Miatas, and save it two or three fuel stops during the course of the race.
“You know, we didn’t expect to do as well as we did,” Ottis said. “We didn’t expect to do poorly, but there was just no time on this car. It was unproven. It had virtually zero miles on it. The fact that it had no mechanical problems whatsoever, I’m just speechless. Everything was expected. We went through exactly the amount of fuel we thought we would. For a virtually untested car, again, I’m speechless. I can’t believe it just went to plan.”