Three Thieves Racing was the overall winner Sunday at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill Presented by Hawk Performance, logging more than 2,200 miles to win the endurance race celebrating its 20th anniversary.
The Audi R8 racecar was a model of consistency all weekend with the drivers turning 742 laps, the fourth highest laps total by an event winner in the event’s 20-year history. The record of 780 laps was set in 2017.
Perfect weather conditions all weekend meant the 3-mile road course was fast, and Three Thieves Racing’s drivers took advantage of it. The Audi running with AR Motorsports support started the race Saturday morning chasing fellow GT competitor Kleen Blast/David’s Racing Performance but within an hour had the lead and never looked back.
“Every driver of the group has been out here trying to win this race for years,” said Tom Burt, one of the Three Thieves Racing owners. “This one takes every component to be perfect.”
The team was as close to perfect as you could get, finishing 34 laps ahead of second-place finisher and GT competitor TruSpeed Autosport that was campaigning a Porsche Cayman GT4. Honda Racing finished third overall running a Honda Civic Type R car.
If you wanted to look at every hourly report from the 2023 25 Hours of Thunderhill Presented by Hawk Performance, let us save you the time. You would find one name at the top of the class and overall standings from essentially start to finish.
After starting from third on grid, Three Thieves Racing quickly took the lead before the 1 o’clock hour on Saturday and made the rest look easy. It most certainly was not easy, but by 6 o’clock Saturday night, Three Thieves Racing had two laps on the stock car chassis Camaro of Kleen Blast – Davids Race Products. Three Thieves Racing turned that two-lap lead into seven by 9 p.m. Saturday night, and 10 laps by midnight.
By 3 a.m., the Three Thieves team was up by 14 laps and by 9 a.m. Sunday morning, Kleen Blast – Davids Race Products had fallen to third, with TruSpeed Autosport in second overall and in GT, but still 35 laps down from the Three Thieves.
“The guys from AR Motorsports did a fantastic job prepping the car,” said Tom Burt, co-owner of the car and one of the ‘three thieves.’ “We had to drive it with the four drivers. We had me, Rick Wright, Thomas Merrill and Eddie Nakato, and nobody put a wheel wrong the entire event. But then the crew was fantastic. With all the pitstops, we had the fastest, cleanest pitstops of anybody on the line. So it was just perfect all the way through.”
Glitchy starter aside, the race went about as well as it could have gone for Three Thieves Racing.
“You know, you do this race because you want to win it. AR Motorsports has been trying for years to win it. All of us. Every driver of the group has been out here trying to win this race for years,” Burt added. “So you come because you want to win. And I guess that’s always true. And you’re showing up for a car race. But this one takes everyone, every component has to be perfect.”
For Three Thieves Racing, it was.
Team Honda Racing 2 was largely in control of E0 for much of the 25 Hours of Thunderhill Presented by Hawk Performance. Early on Team Doteki Auto Solutions had the lead, but consistent laps and a fast pit crew that addressed problems lickety split paved the way to an E0 class win for the team.
Team Honda Racing 2 completed 680 laps, nine more than its sister car Honda Racing one, which came in second. LAP Motorsports came in third in its Mini Cooper JCW.
Team Tazio Ottis Racing was able to take the E1 win with 654 laps, eight laps up on second-place Honda Racing 2. Double stinting drivers, excellent car preparation and an early fuel strategy gave Tazio Ottis Racing the edge early on, and they were able to add to it throughout Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Tazio Ottis Racing also finished seventh overall and posted a fast lap of 2:01.956.
Team Spark Performance had high hopes to finish in the top five, where they were running Saturday night, but fuel system issues forced them into the pits for repairs. That knocked them out of the top five overall, but they were able to take the E2 win by 125 laps over Team Harvey Auto Group 2, which finished second and The Speed Traveler in third.
Spark Performance’s best lap was a 2:02.937.
Team Harvey Auto Group 1 piloted its Spec Miata-trim Mazda Miata to a first place finish in E3, some 36 laps up on Lesher Motorsports, which had enjoyed the lead for much of Saturday till it was sidelined with a blown engine.
Team Harvey Auto Group 1 completed 586 laps with a fast lap time of 2:09.594. It’s finishing lap was a 2:17.957.