Radical Locks Out ESR Podium At The 25 Hours of Thunderhill

Radical Locks Out ESR Podium At The 25 Hours of Thunderhill

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Radical Sportscars has recorded its best-ever result at the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill in California, winning the ESR class and finishing second overall. Radical dominated the ESR category, claiming all three steps of the podium, having locked out the front row of the starting grid and led more laps than any other manufacturer.

The #67 One Motorsports/Hankook Tire Radical SR3 of Dave House, Paul LaHaye, Ethan Stone and Mikel Miller took the ESR class victory , secured the coveted Under 2.0L Trophy and finished runner-up in the 16th running of the Californian endurance race, held on 01-02 December 2018.

The #10 Eastern Shipping Worldwide/Turn 3 Motorsport SR3 of Eric Wagner, Antoine Comeau, Victor Franzoni and Peter Dempsey finished second in class and fifth outright.

Being Turn 3’s first official race as an organisation, they were looking to make a mark and immediately did so with Victor Franzoni putting the #10 on pole position with a lap of 1:42.146.

“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.

The #10 led the field into turn one, and for the first few hours jockeyed for the lead with the Norma. Contact while Eric Wagner was behind the wheel forced the car behind the wall for a quick alignment, but a bigger blow came shortly after when the custom electrical generator the team was running failed and had to be replaced, taking the #10 out of commission for almost 90 minutes. They then mounted a remarkable comeback, led by Dempsey and Franzoni who drove at qualifying pace. From running as low as 34th they clawed their way to back into the top five.

The #44 CrowdStrike/One Motorsports SR3 of George Kurtz, Gerhard Watzinger, Jeff Shafer and Kenton Koch finished third in class, and seventeenth outright. They were unlucky not to win the event after effectively dominating the 16th running of the longest automobile race in the United States, leading the race for 16 out of the 25 hours.

Throughout the night Koch seemed to be in a league of his own, as he completed long stints in the #44. The onboard footage from the team’s livestream was mesmerising, as he carved his way around the backmarkers.

The car survived a right-rear puncture and an altercation with a BMW prior to the sixth hour. Before the eighth hour the clutch was bled, which appeared to be precautionary but in reality hinted at what would come. The car avoided another scare in the ninth hour when a wheel was damaged whilst Shafer was driving, and even swapping out the paddleshift compressor couldn’t remove #44 from the lead.

At the halfway point it looked as though luck had swung in #44’s favour when the Norma fell out of contention and the Porsche of Le Mans veterans, Flying Lizard Motorsports required a driveshaft. However, just after 7am and with only five hours remaining that luck ran out.

“We had a clutch problem from the beginning, and the clutch eventually failed. Debris got in and messed up the crank sensor and shut the engine off,” Shafer explained. “We were going to change it, but there was only two hours left in the race and we weren’t going to change position.”

George Kurtz (2018 was his sixth try at outright victory) added, “This was our best attempt yet. We gave it everything. Thunderhill is always a heartbreak. We led more laps than any other car but that doesn’t count - if only it were the 20 Hours of Thunderhill.”

All eyes then turned to the #67 Radical, which had been running a relatively quiet and uneventful race with a driver line-up of a combined age of 243. As the race-clock struck twelve, the car pitted with a misfire caused by a battered sensor which was promptly removed. The only other drama came an hour later when the #67 suffered a right-rear puncture.

With just three hours left to run, and lying just a lap and a half behind the #74 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche, the #67 refuelled for the final time, electing to keep Mikel Miller behind the wheel. What ensued was effectively a hare-and-tortoise race.

With Miller at the helm for the final stint of 4 hours and 25 minutes, #67 came tantalizingly close to outright victory, in the end finishing just three laps behind the race winning #74 Porsche.

“While we didn’t have the outright pace of the other two Radical teams, we just ran our own race,” commented Lahaye. “Sometimes you make your own luck.”

Radical drivers and teams are already planning next year’s assault. George Kurtz added, ‘We’ll be back next year.”