Entering the home stretch of the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill presented by Hawk Performance, the Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8LMS retook the lead early Sunday as the team looks to bring home the victory in the endurance race.
The Audi R8LMS recaptured the lead from Ryno Racing Team during racing overnight. Ryno Racing’s Ginetta G57 has had hub issues, which slowed the car’s pace on the track. The Ryno team lost a tire that pushed the Ginetta lower in the overall standings.
“As far the prototypes, we were never going to touch them on pace,” said Scott Jasmund, data engineer for the Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard team. “It was just a matter of running our own race and waiting for them to come to us. Little by little, they all seem to have had some sort of problems.”
The race ends at noon Sunday with most of the 52 entries still racing.
The current standings can be found here.
Here’s a look at the class leaders as of Sunday at 7 a.m.:
Running with the car stuck in fourth gear, the RK Motorsports/TC Design team has put up some of its fastest lap speeds despite being able to use just one gear.
The team’s drivers have pushed the BMW M3 to a nine-lap lead and have posted sub-1:55 minute laps during nightfall.
“Right when we switched drivers at 3 a.m. we’ve been stuck in fourth,” said driver Andy Kwitowski. “We’ve been in fourth gear ever since. Luckily that’s the right gear to be stuck in.”
It was a wild night for E1 leader Trim-Tex Racing as the team’s car made contact with four racers and one of its drivers spun out because of dirt on the track. But through it all, the team has held its lead.
While the collisions on the track were minor, driver Joe Koenig considers himself lucky the incidents didn’t knock their Mazda MX-5 out of the race.
“Now that the sun is up, it’s a battle to the finish,” Koenig said. “It’s a whole new beginning. Survive the darkness, race in the morning.”
With a seven-lap lead, KD Motorsports plans to keep clicking off the laps and run out the clock to the championship. But crew chief David Stenner hopes the car will keep running strong.
“We had an issue trying to get it re-fired after a pit stop, so that caused some drama and we had to bump start it down pit lane,” Stenner said. “Really, if that’s the only issue we have, it’s extremely minor.”
Team RAmotorsports40 lost its clutch and has been running the Mazda Miata in fourth gear. With a 19-lap lead over CorkSport Performance in the E3 class, the team is optimistic the clutch and gear can stay together until the race ends.
“We’ve done the math and we can be 10 seconds off the pace and they still can’t catch us,” said Ron Gayman, team owner. “We’ve got to be smart.”
The Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8LMS is currently the overall leader and had a four-lap lead in the ES class as of 7 a.m. Sunday.
The team likely will have to change brake pads on the Audi before the race ends at noon, which could cost them several minutes in the pits.
“It’s another thing that can introduce problems into a pit stop,” said Scott Jasmund, data engineer, who has yet to sleep during the 25 Hours of Thunderhill.
A broken hub and a lost hub might cost Team Ryno Racing No. 2 team the overall victory but the team still leads the ESR class. The team lost the driver’s side rear wheel in Turn 5, and the tire ended up in Turn 8. The crew was working quickly to get the Ginetta G57 back on track to capture a spot on the podium.
“We’re going to see if we can get it together and get back out there,” said Todd Therkildsen, engineer for the Ryno Racing Team.
Team manager Thomas Blam talked throughout the night how the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill is a battle of attrition. For the Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports team, their Porsche Cayman was one of the victims.
The team had an issue with a waterline and lost about 15 laps trying to repair it. Blam’s team is still in the Top 10.
“It was pretty messy out there, a lot of oil and a lot of dirt,” Blam said. “Cars were flying off the road. Even though the weather conditions were ideal, you had to keep your wits about you.”