- Indy Lights and Sportscar stars Dempsey, Franzoni, Koch and Kurtz bolster Radical’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill efforts.
Having chalked up five class wins over the years, Radical Sportscars are considered a fixture at the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill, yet an outright victory has evaded the British marque since the event’s inception in 2003.
Reigning ESR champions CrowdStrike / One Motorsports are hopeful 2018 could be the year, while for rookie Radical entry Turn 3 Motorsports the first priority is simply to take the checkered flag.
Both teams feature star studded line-ups including 2013 Freedom 100 Indy Lights winner Peter Dempsey, Indy Lights driver Victor Franzoni, 2016 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona winner Kenton Koch (LMPC class), 2017 Pirelli World Challenge GTSA Champion George Kurtz and Radical Cup North America alumni.
The sixteenth running of the grueling 25 Hours of Thunderhill – the longest automobile race in the United States – takes place on December 1-2. At least three Radical SR3s are entered in the expected 50-plus car field made up of GT and prototype machinery from amateur and professional drivers and teams alike who, if they finish, will have completed a distance equivalent to driving across the United States from coast to coast.
Leading the charge is the #44 CrowdStrike / One Motorsports Radical SR3 entry of Spring Mountain Country Club members George Kurtz and Gerhard Watzinger, along with pro driver Kenton Koch and One Motorsports team principal Jeff Shafer. For Kurtz, this will be his sixth attempt at an outright victory. For Shafer, this year will be his tenth attempt at the title, either as a driver or as team manager.
“This is a special event for us as each person has competed in it for some time,” commented Kurtz, who by day is the CEO and co-founder of cybersecurity company CrowdStrike. “Each year we have come up a little short of the overall win. We are hoping to put an outright victory in the books in 2018!”
The team’s second car, the #67 One Motorsports Radical SR3 of Dave House, Paul LaHaye, Mikel Miller and Ethan Stone will undoubtedly also be in the running. House was part of last year’s class winning driver line-up, and LaHaye and Stone both have multiple Thunderhill starts to their names.
Like last year, One Motorsports has chosen Radical’s diminutive 1340cc powerplant to power its pair of SR3 chassis, while upgrades to the car include bespoke endurance lighting and electrical system, long-range fuel tank and real-time telemetry, so the team can see exactly what is happening out on track.
“We know from the Blue Marble Cocktails Radical Cup how reliable the 1340 engine is,” explained Shafer, “and last year we proved less really is more when the 1340 lasted the distance and we won the ESR class.”
“There are always faster cars,” Shafer added. “And the Radical SR3 is one of the fastest, but speed alone never seems to win this race. Reliability does. Thunderhill has a way of throwing a new problem at you every year, and we’ve learnt from every one of them. Hopefully this year we’ve got every eventuality covered.”
Shafer’s extensive knowledge has been tapped into by Thunderhill newcomers Turn 3 Motorsports, which is led by former Indy Lights racer Peter Dempsey. He is the son of Cliff Dempsey, owner of the famous UK-based Cliff Dempsey Racing Formula Ford 1600 team.
“As a team we have reached out to One Motorsports to assist us with the build of the car,” said Dempsey. “We have [also] teamed up with Newman Wachs Racing for this event, and they have also brought a lot of experience to the table. [And Chicago Radical dealer] Team Stradale have been very helpful with supplying us with all the parts to make this come together.”
The driver line-up of the #10 Eastern Shipping Worldwide / Turn 3 Motorsports Radical SR3 entry also has a wealth of experience, not to mention a truly international flavor with Eric Wagner (USA) joining Antoine Comeau (Canada), Victor Franzoni (Brazil) & Peter Dempsey (Ireland).
Wagner, the president of Eastern Shipping Worldwide, a global leader in shipping and logistics, and Comeau, an index options trader at Optiver, are Autobahn Country Club members and Radical Cup North America graduates, with Comeau claiming the 2017 SR3 1340 Class Championship.
Dempsey and Franzoni both have Indy Lights and Pro Mazda experience, Franzoni having won the Pro Mazda championship in 2017.
For Comeau, who is one of the most winning drivers in Radical Cup history, “The goal is the same as every race before, to win it!”
However, Dempsey – who is famous for recording the closest finishing margin in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history (0.0026 secs whilst taking victory in the 2013 Freedom 100 Indy Lights race) – knows better than most that winning sometimes involves a little luck, as will surviving the ‘25’.
“Our first goal will be to settle into the race and stay out of trouble while looking after the car. It will be a huge achievement to get to the finish of this race. Hopefully if we do that, we will have a chance of standing on the podium.”
Follow the progress of the Radical teams in the 2018 NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill Presented by HAWK Performance with live video coverage, live timing, live streams and live social media posts.
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