Radical Sportscars, Eastern and Turn 3 Motorsport have won the 2019 NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill in dominant fashion with drivers Peter Dempsey, Eric Wagner, Antoine Comeau and Neil Alberico. In doing so the 1340cc RPE-Suzuki powered Radical SR3 became the first car with an engine capacity of under 2L to clinch the outright victory.
Peter Dempsey took the checkered flag, completing 672 laps around the 3-mile Northern California circuit, before doing a series of celebratory donuts on the front straight and parking the heavily soiled, yet otherwise unscathed Radical SR3 in victory lane.
“We as a team achieved something very special this weekend,” commented Dempsey after receiving trophies for the overall victory, the ESR class win, and honors as the highest placed ‘Under 2L’ car.
“We came here knowing we had a shot to win if we could execute our plan to not race anyone else but ourselves. Eric [Wagner] and Antoine [Comeau] did two stints in the race that were flawless, and with the conditions they were in, it was extremely tough to drive. Having Neil [Alberico] as part of our driver lineup was great. With his experience in this style of racing and his professionalism, he brought a lot to the team this weekend, and we were glad to have him as part of our team.
“The car held up fantastically, and we had zero mechanical issues for the entire race which was amazing,” added Dempsey, who thanked Radical Sportscars for providing technical support, which included monitoring fuel consumption during the event via live telemetry.
Amazingly the #10 Eastern / Turn 3 Motorsport Radical SR3 led all but the first 33 laps of the grueling 25 hour race, which this year featured one of the most competitive fields and extreme wet weather conditions.
Of the forty-five cars which started, nine were ESR prototype classed cars including two Ligier LMP3 cars, a Lola LMP2, and a Praga with impressive pro-am driver line-ups. Other heavy hitters included the famed Flying Lizard team, which this year fielded an Audi R8 LMS GT4, and a NISMO backed Nissan GT-R from Valkyrie Autosport.
Finishing second outright and in class, eight laps down and looking decidedly worse for wear was the #64 K2R Motorsports Ligier JS-P3 LMP3. Aside from pro-drivers Colin Braun and Matt Bell– who brought the car home– their line-up featured Blue Marble Cocktails Radical Cup regulars George Kurtz and Gerhard Watzinger.
The battle between the #10 Radical and the #64 Ligier raged all race with the gap seesawing in a tortoise and hare race between the extremely fuel efficient 1340cc Radical and the LMP3, which showed slightly faster pace on a clear lap.
The final hours were particularly harrowing ones for both teams. On the 605th tour, fifteen minutes before the close of the 23rd hour, Dempsey came unstuck at Turn 12. With Dempsey beached, panic set in the Turn 3 team, and even though the recovery team reacted quickly, the lead was reduced to six laps with just two hours remaining. However it wasn’t long before Matt Bell in the #64 Ligier had his own off-track excursion while pushing to catch the Radical, which forced him to pit to clear mud from the radiators and reinstated the lead margin for the #10.
Finishing third, 24 laps behind, was the #11 Fellner Motorsports Praga. Fastest lap honors went to Ryan Eversley in the #52 JFC Racing Lola LMP2 car, powered by a bespoke Turbo V8 engine of JFC’s own design, which did 1:41.044.
After a stellar qualifying performance which resulted in a front row start, the #48 One Motorsports Radical SR3 of Kenton Koch, John Falb, Louis Schirber and Gregg Gorski #48 was very much in contention during the first hours of the race, running in second place behind the #10 for 123 laps. However multiple mishaps took their toll and it was parked after 379 laps, to be classified in 39th place.
One’s other entry, the #68 Ligier JS-P3 LMP3 of Dave House, Paul LaHaye, Tony Bullock, Will Lin (all of whom are current or former Radical owners) and pro Mikel Miller was another strong rival to the Radicals to be sidelined after a series of off-track excursions. The #68 ran as high as second place, and bowed out while in fourth place on lap 413 to finish 38th.
And while their tenth Thunderhill attempt may have been one of total heartache, One Motorsports owner Jeff Shafer and team should take some solace from the fact they were instrumental in giving Radical its first outright win. Turn 3 ran One Motorsports designed and supplied endurance fuel tank and double stator alternator on the winning #10.
For additional race reporting, reactions and live stream vision visit the Turn 3 Motorsport and One Motorsports Facebook pages, the NASA 25 Hour website, or Radical’s North American social media channels.
For hi-resolution images click here.