As the laps, and clock, was winding down as the two Motorsports Solutions Porsches were locked in a battle for the overall win. The ES Class No. 00 and No. 64 Porsche 997s battled over the last four hours for the overall win. At 7:30 a.m. the No. 64, leading at the time, pitted for a motor mount fix. The time in the pits relegated the 64 to third place, putting the team car, No. 00, into the lead. With three hours remaining he 64 Porsche was in chase mode, trying to make-up a six lap deficit. With just 90 minutes remaining the curtain closed on the No. 64s chances when an electrical problem sidelined the 997 leaving the 00 at the head of the field alone, 16 laps ahead of the closest pursuer.
The three-hour mark witnessed close battles in the E1 and E3 classes. In E1 at the three-hour mark, just two laps separated the No. 55 CJ Wilson Racing Mazda Miata from the No. 49 949 Racing Miata. With less than an hour to go the E1 combatants were on the same lap within 30 seconds of each other. The No. 49 would eventually take the win.
The winning No. 00 Motorsports Solutions/Ehret Family Vineyards Porsche 997 Cup car was driven to victory by Pierre Ehret, Tyler McQuarrie, Anthony Ward, Christian Bollrath and Memo Gidley.
"It was my second 25 hour race, my first time I came in second," Anthony Ward said. "We finished one better today. I found it very difficult to drive. There is a lot of traffic out on the track. You never get more than two or three turns in row that are clear. We had a few mechanical issues. In the last 15 minutes of the race we had a rear axle go. The crew made quick work of that repair. Earlier, we hit someone and knocked out a radiator, had a misfire issue with the engine and flat spotted some tires. This is a monumental effort to run a 25 hour race. Sometimes you are down 30 laps and not out of it. You just can never give up."
The No. 49 949 Racing Mazda Miata took top honors in the E1 Class. "It was a dog fight," Emilio Cervantes, driver, said. "It was a 25 hour sprint race. We were never really more than a lap two ahead at any one time. We would lead and then they would, it was crazy. We were really cognizant of the timing the yellow flags. If you look at the lap charts and lap times I think we had less deviation in time. In the long run, that was the difference. We had a few little issues. We had a belt tensioner go. I put the car off and did some agricultural racing, but other than that it ran perfectly."
The No. 79 Atlanta Motorsports Group Mazda Miata took the win in E2. "It was a typical 25 hour race," Tony Silva, crew chief, said. "It was cold and stressful. The hardest part is pulling back on the drivers and not allowing them to go full bore and beat the car up. Steady pace, perfect pit stops, no penalties and no mechanical failures was the key. Our biggest drama was the radios going in and out. We used a little Morse Code to get us through."
In E3 it was the No. 30 Miata Cage.com Mazda Miata in front at the checker. "This is one of the most enjoyable races we do all year," Sean Hedrick, driver, said. "All of our drivers are mechanical. We build the cars as a team and drive it as a team. The fact that we have a great Mazda product underneath and great guys working it makes the difference. We had a late race, unexpected brake change, but other than that it went great. This is our second win. We won it in 2010.
The Factory 48 Motorsports Radical team overcame three motor changes to take the win in ESR. "Starting on the overall pole was a great start," Jeff Shafer said. "We went from the front to nearly the back by the first turn, but it was a bit of ego boost to come back through the field. Things were going good. We made a pit stop and then we were missing cylinder. We had to do a motor change and 7 p.m. and then ran another four hours and had to change it again. After that it ran great and we almost able to come back and win the race overall."
The Hankook Tire/El Diablo BMW M3 took win in E0. "It was an up and down event for us the whole time,"Peter Gugenti. "We got one lap in qualifying on Friday and were deep in the pack. We made our way back up through the field. About four before the end, we put fresh tires on it and adjusted the car and put a lot of pressure on P1 causing them to blow their motor. After that it was smooth sailing to a nice class win."
USAF NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill Class Winners:
E1 No. 49 949 Racing Mazda Miata
E2 No. 79 Atlanta Motorsports Mazda Miata
E3 No. 30 Miata Cage.com Mazda Miata
E0 No. 31 Hankook Tire/El Diablo BMW M3
ES No. 64 Motorsports Solutions Porsche 997 - overall winner
ESR No. 48 Factory 48 Motorsports Radical
USAF NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill Top Five Overall:
No. 00 Motorsports Solutions/Ehret Family Vineyards Porsche 997 Cup ES
No. 18 Davidson Racing RCR/Eagle ES
No. 48 Factory 48 Motorsports Radical ESR
No. 31 Hankook Tire/El Diablo BMW M3 E0
No. 2 TFB BMW E30 ES
Class Top Three Finishers:
No. 49 949 Racing Mazda Miata
No. 55 CJ Wilson Racing Mazda Miata MX-5
No. 69 Atlanta Motorsports Group Mazda Miata
No. 79 Atlanta Motorsports Group Mazda Miata
No. 9 Sector Purple Racing Mazda Miata
No. 38 Team Krider Racing Nissan Sentra
No. 30 Miata Cage.com Mazda Miata
No. 02 Miata Cage.com Mazda Miata
No. 77 Reign Motorsports BMW 325
No. 31 Hankook Tire/El Diablo BMW M3
No. 16 Edge Motorworks/Apex Race Parts BMW M3
No. 44 Achilles Motorsports/Hoosier Tire BMW E46
No. 00 Motorsports Solutions/Ehret Family Vineyards Porsche 997 Cup - overall
No. 18 Davidson Racing RCR/Eagle
No. 66 Lynam Racing Silverado
No. 48 Factory 48 Motorsports Radical
No. 2 TFB BMW 325
No. 10 CRE - Achilles Tire - AIM Catfish
USAF NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill Race notes:
70 cars took the green flag.
47 cars took the checkered flag.
Winner covered 6 laps or 1,953 miles
Largest single make in the race was 27 Mazda Miatas.
Oldest car in the race a 1969 Datsun 510, newest 2013 Mazda2, 2013 Scion FR-S, 2013 Acura ILX (2)
Fast lap of the race was put in by the No. 17 Davidson Racing Norma, a time of 1:42.999 on lap 66.
A crew from NBC Sports followed Factory 48 Motorsports, 949 Racing, Davidson Racing and Hankook Tire/El Diablo throughout the weekend collecting footage for a documentary style program focusing on the triumphs as well as the hardship of the teams while competing over 25 hours. The show will air sometime in early spring.
The eleventh running of the USAF NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill will take place Dec. 7-8, 2013.
For additional information, please contact NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill Media Director, Kyle Chura at firstname.lastname@example.org or (248) 821-0468. More detail can be found at nasaproracing.com