The field is set for Saturday’s 16th running of the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill presented by Hawk Performance as teams face potential rain, near-freezing nighttime temperatures and general fatigue to win the prestigious endurance competition.
Nearly 50 teams are racing in 25 Hours of Thunderhill, which starts at 11 a.m. Pacific time Saturday and teams race continuously until noon Sunday, regardless of the weather conditions on the 3-mile-long road course. The forecast calls for a chance of rain Saturday morning with the rain clearing by the afternoon.
Professional and amateur races teams are competing for titles in six classes. Teams qualified Friday night to check headlights and to get a feel for the conditions since over 14 hours of the 25-hour race is run in the dark. The fastest qualifiers to set the grid for Saturday were as follows:
Racing a Radical car for the first time at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, Turn 3 Motorsports wanted to prove itself in the qualifying session. The team delivered by turning the best lap speed of 1m42.146 during Friday night qualifying.
The team decided two months ago to compete in the endurance race and had to build a car that could compete with the veteran teams at the race.
“To us, qualifying was a big deal because we want to come in here as a new team and be able to perform,” said Brian Halahan, team manager for Turn 3 Motorsports. “With racing, it’s obviously a different ballgame than the 25 Hour, so now we got to refocus our plan for the race.”
Halahan said most of the team members come from open-wheel racing and are looking forward to the challenge. “We’re venturing out to something new,” he said. “We’re looking forward to everything.”
The Toyo Tires Valkyrie Autosport team brought arguably the most powerful weapon to the fight in E0. Its all-wheel-drive 2009 Nissan GT-R is likely the car to beat, especially if it rains, but that was not the top qualifier in E0.
That honor went to Team Toyo Valkyrie Autosports other car, a 2010 Nissan 370Z, with a lap time of 1m54.142s, which edged out the GT-R by 0.396 seconds. The 370Z will start 10th overall in a field of 47 cars.
Fresh from its National Championship in Spec E46, Jason Fraser and his Team Frasun Racing brought the same car to the 25 Hours of Thunderhill and promptly took the top qualifyihg spot in E1 by more than 2 seconds.
Team Frasun will start 16th of 47 cars for the start of Saturday’s race.
Team HQ Autosport has been on a tear this season in E2, winning two of four races in the Western Endurance Racing Championship series this season, and taking second in another.
HQ took it a step further at Thunderhill and took the top qualifying position in E2, turning a 2m05s lap time, which was nearly 4 seconds faster than its nearest competition.
Team HQ Autosport starts 29th of 47 cars set to take the grid.
Team RA Motorsports has four cars running in this year’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill, three of which are in E3. One of those cars is the top dog in E3. Setting its fastest lap on the last lap of qualifying, Team RA Motorsports 40 laid down a lap time of 2m08.408s, which was 3 seconds quicker than the car starting from second place.
Team RA Motorsports 40 will start 32nd of 47 cars.
It’s no secret Team Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports knows how to get around Thunderhill the fast way. The team won the race overall the last three years in a row.
This year, the team is campaigning a Porsche 911 RSR rather than the Audi R8 it used to win the previous three events. In its last lap during qualifying Team Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports scored a 1m47.004s lap, just one second faster than its nearest competitor.
Team Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports will start third overall on Saturday.
Team Jester & Babbitt Motorsports with Flying Lizard qualified one of one in GT Challenge in the Audi R8 ALMS that Flying Lizard used to win the race for three consecutive years.
The all-women-crew-and-driver team will compete alone in GT Challenge, but also will vie for the overall win. The team will start fifth of 47 cars.
The race can be livestreamed here.