The Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports team took its third consecutive overall win in the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill presented by Hawk Performance on Sunday, marking only the second time in the endurance race’s 15-year history that a team has won three overalls in a row.
The Audi R8LMS took the overall lead just after sunrise Sunday and never looked back as the team’s main competition, a pair of Ginetta G57 prototypes, dropped out late in the endurance race because of mechanical issues.
“It’s still fun to win them,” said driver Darren Law, who has helped drive the team to victory the past three years. “We literally didn’t touch any other car. There’s not a mark on it and we didn’t have anything go wrong. It was perfect.”
Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports is only the second team to have three consecutive overall wins at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill since the race began in 2002. Team Mercer Motorsports won overall in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
The Toyo Tires team did have a brief scare with 90 minutes left in the race when driver Nathan Stacy went into the dirt in Turn 3 and for a moment it didn’t look like Stacy would be able to restart the Audi. Stacy got the car started and the team won by six laps over second-place overall finisher Calvert Dynamics/Competition Motorsports. Third-place overall finisher was Crowd Strike/One Motorsports.
By the time race ended Sunday, Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports drivers Darren Law, Nate Stacy, Charlie Hayes and Tom Haacker had put in 2,200 miles — nearly the equivalent of driving from coast-to-coast across the United States in 25 hours.
More than 50 teams participated in the famed endurance race that tested drivers’ resolve against machine and fatigue. Much of the race is run in darkness, further challenging the field of amateur and professional drivers.
In additional to the overall champion, there were seven class winners crowned Sunday:
Despite having just one gear (fourth) for 12 hours of the endurance race, RK Motorsports/TC Design brought home the class championship in a 19-car-deep and competitive E0 class.
RK Motorsports/TC Design’s Tony Colicchio was wondering if the string of bad luck at NASA’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill would continue. He’s competed in six Thunderhill races and has crewed nearly every race since its start 15 years ago.
“I’ve had some really bad luck here, especially given all my sprint races,” Colicchio said. “I’ve actually qualified a car three times and not been able to start because the car has had some sort of problem. Winning it is pretty awesome.”
What a difference a year makes for the Trim-Tex Racing team. Last year, the team had transmission issues and just missed winning the class.
“We were having transmission issues in 2016 and the same curse hit us again, but thankfully we were able to salvage it,” said driver Britt Casey Jr. “We only lost one gear this time, and last year we lost every gear but one.”
Just two laps separated Trim-Tex Racing and second-place class finisher Team MooreWood Racing.
KD Motorsports captured back-to-back 25 Hours of Thunderhill victories in E2 as the team dealt with a host of issues with the racecar. The team was dealing with issues on the 1989 BMW 325is, from brakes to the transmission.
“We lost every gear but fourth,” said team owner Kevin Doyle. “We had oil pressure issues. We were down to our backing plates on the rear brakes, so it was metal on metal on the back. We were getting everything we could.”
The team turned its fastest lap of 2:06.045 during the middle of the night, which crew chief David Stenner credits his drivers.
“How we won the race was down to incredibly fast laps at night,” said Stenner, who beat second-place finisher RDR by five laps.
Team RAmotorsports40 had a Mazda Miata stuck in fourth gear, but the drivers made the most of it to get the E3 class win at 25 Hours of Thunderhill. Even with the transmission problem, the trio of drivers were able to beat second-place finisher CorkSport Performance by 22 laps.
“Likely something is going to break on the car before the end of the race,” said driver David Biggar. “It’s just how you manage it and then how you get through the rest of the race with that, and I think we did a great job.”
Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports’ strong performance left the rest of the teams in ES class chasing the Audi R8 LMS and second place. Calvert Dynamics with its Porsche GT3 took home second and Prototype Development Group was third.
Crowd Strike/One Motorsports won its first 25 Hours of Thunderhill, but it didn’t come without complications.
A problem with the alternator required creative solutions to keep the open-cockpit car running. The team had to shut down fuel pumps, reduce headlight output and even turn off the steering wheel heater despite racing in temperatures that dipped in the low 40 degrees.
“It was five hours of absolute thrashing,” said driver Kenton Koch. “We had a couple issues with the alternator and keeping things charged, so we had half the lights shut off all night and we could hardly see straight. The only thing we had were the lights that point out so I could see the marks.
A pair of Ginetta G57 cars that were favorites to win the overall race and class had mechanical issues and dropped out late in the race. Norma’s Last Chance finished in second, two laps behind Crowd Strike/One Motorsports.
The lone car in the class, the Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports team had a water-line failure, but got it fixed and was able to get the car out in time to grab the checkered flag. The Porsche Cayman ended up 24th overall.
“It was obviously a little disappointing the other teams dropped out, and I do believe that next year is going to be a pretty big group, because obviously anything Toyo does, they do it right,” said team manager Thomas Blam. “So, we were happy to run the tires. We had a phenomenal run for the first 20 hours, and at one point we were sixth overall, which I think is pretty remarkable for a DOT tire. We’re hoping to be back next year and hoping to bring a couple of more cars with us.”
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