Perfect strategy, reliability, and teamwork came together this morning at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, California for Flying Lizard Motorsports and Toyo Tires to celebrate a well-earned victory at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. The No. 45 Audi R8 LMS not only clinched the win in the ES class, but also the overall victory by six laps. Coming out of its four year retirement, the No. 74 Toyo Tires / Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR competed in its first 25 Hour to finish second in the ES class, and an impressive third overall.
The 2015 race winning Audi returned to Thunderhill strong from the start, with Darren Law placing the car on pole position in the ES class, seventh overall. Flying Lizard Crew Chief Charlie Hayes qualified the Porsche in second in the ES class, ninth overall to start behind its sister car.
The field took the green flag, and both Flying Lizard machines flew off the starting line. Darren Law and the No. 45 Audi R8 LMS jumped from seventh position to fourth, with Charlie Hayes right behind, climbing from ninth to fifth. In the opening hour of the race, the two cars kept their order, eventually running second and third overall, before Hayes settled into fourth. During the first pit stop, the No. 74 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR had a small amount of fuel spill on the ground, resulting in Will Owen spending the opening minutes of his stint in the pit lane to serve a five minute penalty. The team was hit with a second five minute penalty in the second pit stop, leading the crew to pull the car behind the garage for repairs. In the opening hours, the Audi was also hit with trouble when an issue with the left front wheel caused a vibration. With Mike Hedlund at the wheel leading the class, the Lizards called the Audi in to pit lane change the front left damper. After quick repairs, he rejoined the field in second in class, fourth overall. He climbed back to the top of the class by the end of his stint, a lead which was preserved and extended in the hours to follow.
As night descended on the track and the race finished its first quarter, Johannes van Overbeek continued to lead the ES class from third position overall. Dion von Moltke maintained the position during his following stint before passing the torch to Program Manager Darren Law. In the Porsche, Flying Lizard Crew Chief Charlie Hayes continued his second stint, climbing from eighth in class to third. Trouble stuck again in the seventh hour with the rear of the car, causing Hayes to pit for a new left rear shock. He rejoined ninth in class, but kept a steady pace to finish his stint in seventh. Will Owen took over for his double stint, impressively climbing through the field to get the Porsche 911 back up to its position behind the Audi R8 LMS. Wilzoch took over in the eleventh hour, while Law and the Audi continued to lead the ES class by 20 laps.
The two machines pushed through the night, avoiding contact to keep the ES class leading Audi in second overall, and the sister Porsche in fourth, second in class. With three hours to go, the race leading Ginetta in the ESR class began to struggle, dropping down the charts. After 22 hours of racing, Mike Hedlund and the Audi R8 LMS took the overall lead for the first time since last year’s event. At the 23 hour mark, while leading the field by 14 laps, the Audi R8 LMS received a 15 minute stop and hold penalty for earlier contact. After serving the penalty they rejoined with a six lap lead over the #57 ESR car. Twenty laps behind, the #74 Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR stood in third overall, second in class to the sister Audi.
After taking the Audi baton from Hedlund, van Overbeek and the Audi rejoined in the lead with less than two hours to go. While an issue with the fuel pump continued to plague the Audi, the team adjusted their strategy to retain their lead. In the final hour, Flying Lizard Technical Director Tommy Sadler pitted the Porsche from third overall to give the final stint to Hayes. Hayes and van Overbeek carried the cars home to the end, bringing Toyo Tires and Flying Lizard to the podium for the second year in a row. The Audi R8 LMS earned its second consecutive overall win, crossing the finish line side by side with the sister Porsche in third.
“Wow, what a race! From the onset we said that we were in it to win it and today we delivered emphatically on that promise with an incredible team and a flawless performance by our Toyo Proxes race slicks,” said Marc Sanzenbacher, senior manager, motorsports, Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. “We definitely faced some adversity during the race but in the end we captured our second overall victory while also securing the third place podium spot at this amazing event. The professionalism of the Flying Lizard Motorsports team is second to none and results like these are a validation of our continued development work together.”
#45 Audi R8 LMS // Qualified P1 in ES Class // P7 Overall Finished P1 in ES Class // P1 Overall
That was an amazing race. We knew it would be tough, especially with the faster prototypes. We didn’t think we’d be able to catch them. We knew if they had any problems, and they did, then we would stand a chance at overtaking them. I have to thank the team. They did an amazing job putting the car together. Thanks to Toyo Tires for supplying such phenomenal tires with great grip and durability. It was a great effort by everybody. This is our second overall win, and we’re really proud of that.
What an amazing weekend. It was great being back with Flying Lizard and having a successful weekend. The race started a little rough. We had a couple little mechanical issues, which the crew was able to fix with us hardly missing any time at all. Once I was done, we pounded around, turned laps, and stayed out of trouble. We had some good luck. Some of the prototypes were quicker than us, but we managed to finish on top, mostly because of the crew and the awesome Toyo Tires that held up in the heat of the sun and the cold of the night. It was great. I was glad to be here and hope to get to race with everyone again.
Johannes van Overbeek
That was one of the tougher wins at this race. .We had a lot of little gremlins and had some stiff competition. In the end, Flying Lizard put together a great, strong car. Toyo put some great tires on the car, and they were consistent and fast all day. We never had a problem with them. I’m pleased to finally get my fifth overall win here.
Dion von Moltke
What a weekend to be back with Flying Lizard Motorsports, and to come back in style with a win. Big thanks to Flying Lizard. All the guys did a fantastic job in some pretty difficult circumstances. In the last two hours, we had a problem with the fuel pump, as well as a penalty. Darren, Johannes, and Mike drove flawlessly. This race is really mentally demanding with the closing speeds and the night lasting so long. The Toyo Tires held up really well and gave us just what we needed in the day and night hours. The Audi was really quick and lasted for forever, so big thanks to everybody.
#74 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR // Qualified P2 in ES Class // P9 Overall // Finished P2 in ES Class // P3 Overall
We did better than we expected. We had problems early on with fuel penalties, and we managed to fix what was causing that issue. If we didn’t have that, we would have finished 1-2 overall. The first seventeen hours, we only had four gears. We were lifting on the front straight away to sacrifice a lot of speed. We still ran good lap times, and we did what we came here to do.
We just finished the 2016 25 Hours of Thunderhill with Flying Lizard, Toyo Tires, and the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. It was an awesome and very long race. This whole thing was a totally new experience for me, but I came here and learned exactly what I wanted. It was really good practice to come here, drive at night, and learn how to drive in traffic. Working with Flying Lizard was awesome. There’s so much knowledge and so much to learn from. The car was a blast to drive, and I enjoyed every second of it. I’m really glad I came. I learned so much, achieved my goals, and we earned a great third place result.
What an incredible job by the team this weekend. We had our difficulties, but the guys all did a great job pulling together to get that third place finish. It was a long race, and a hard fought overall podium.
I’m really happy with our result. We had problems early on. We fought our transmission issues, where we ran four gears for 17 hours. We hung in there, and I want to thank Toyo Tires for making this possible for us.
Source. Flying Lizard Motorsports