Always a hotly contested class, the E3 field consisted of eight Mazda Miatas, an Acura Integra and a Honda Civic. The field included multiple past winners and podium finishers.
Team RA Motorsports 40 set the pace in qualifying with a 2:06-second lap time. The team’s nearest competitors were 1 and 2 seconds behind, respectively. But lap times are by no means the end-all, be-all at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. Sure, fast is a factor, but it’s one of many factors needed to win a class, and Team RA Motorsports 40 had other factors on its side, too, namely peerless execution and a dearth of pit stops.
“I would have say my drivers did drive a perfect race,” said team owner Ron Gayman. “We managed to have no penalties in the pit and on the track. It was flawless by my drivers. I think each driver had one four-wheel off and that was it. We were very consistent in the rain and we ended up running from 2:40 in the morning to the end on one set of Hoosier wets.”
That kind of performance is tough to beat, a point not lost on Team Augersmiles, which took their Acura Integra to a second-place finish. Fielded in years past as Team Divaspeed, the Integra was prepped and crew-chiefed by Ron Carroll, who led Davidson Racing to overall victory in 2014.
“They had the perfect strategy coming in,” said driver Donna Gilio. “They came out the first three or four hours hard charging and got two laps up on us in the beginning.”
Another Team Augersmiles driver Tim Auger, added, “Our car ran great. It’s the best it’s ever run and we had Ron Carroll as our crew chief, and he brought a great crew, so we had everything lined up to do well. They were just better.”
Team Augersmiles’ performance was good enough to best one of the consistently top teams in the E3 class, Team RJ Racing, which won E3 in 2013 and 2014. In the end, RJ Racing finished 12 laps behind second place.
“We made a little bit of a strategy error with the rain and that’s really what it came down to,” said driver Rob Gibson. “We gave a hundred percent and we got third place. I couldn’t prouder of what we did. We’ve won this thing a couple of times, but the feeling I have right now is no different from the times we won.
“The forecast said there would be three hours of rain, so we stayed out on slick tires,” he added. “But when the rain went into its sixth hour we kept thinking it was going to stop.”