This December, Flying Lizard Motorsports and Toyo Tires will return to the 25 Hours of Thunderhill as the reigning champions, looking to continue their three year winning streak at the endurance event. After winning overall in 2015, 2016, and 2017, the team will enter a 2009 Porsche GT3 RSR to compete in the ES class with the second car and driver lineup to be announced within the next week.
Wolf Henzler, Johannes van Overbeek, Justin Marks, Charlie Hayes, and Andy Wilzoch will race in the 25 hour event under the Flying Lizard banner, together racing the No. 74 Toyo Tires Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in the ES class, November 30th to December 2nd.
Professional race car driver Wolf Henzler competed with Flying Lizard Motorsports in the American Le Mans Series in 2006 and 2008, accumulating five wins, 12 podiums, and the 2008 GT2 team and driver championships. The German racer holds a robust endurance racing career, earning victories at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, 24 Hours of Le Mans, 24 Hours of Spa, and Petit Le Mans. Henzler is no stranger to the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, where he finished 2nd overall in 2009 and won overall in 2011 in a Porsche GT3 Cup.
“I am looking forward to be back at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill this year,” said Henzler. “I am thrilled to get the chance to do this race especially with Flying Lizard and with experienced and fast co-drivers. The Thunderhill race is well organized and the track is very demanding. It will be driving in the dark for a long time in the race what makes it very special. As there will be many different cars, so it is very important to deal with the traffic without losing too much time and conducting safe passing. I am sure with the experience of the team and my co-drivers, we will be as successful as I was in the past.”
With six first place finishes in class to his name, Johannes van Overbeek currently holds the record for the driver with the most overall wins (five) at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, currently the longest sports car race in North America. One of the original Flying Lizard Motorsports team members, van Overbeek has earned eight wins and 36 podiums with the team, with two of his five overall wins being under the Lizard banner.
“The NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill is one of my favorite races that I’ve had lots of success at with Tommy Sadler and Flying Lizard,” said van Overbeek. “I’m excited to be sharing the Toyo Tires Porsche RSR with Wolf, Charlie, Andy and Justin. Justin and I last drove together in 2002 but have talked over the years about doing something again together. Wolf and I go way back both as competitors and teammates. I’m looking forward to working with Andy and Charlie. With standard Flying Lizard preparation and execution, with a dash of luck, hopefully the team can earn yet another victory and I’ll be able to claim my sixth overall win at the 25 Hour.”
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar driver Justin Marks began racing in professional sports car series in 2004, beginning with the Rolex Sports Car Series before moving to pursue NASCAR just two years later. Most recently, Marks raced the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian in the Acura NSX GT3, earning a second place finish at the Detroit Grand Prix with co-driver Lawson Aschenbach. A California resident since the age of eight, Marks has ample experience at Thunderhill Raceway, a three-mile permanent road course nestled in the Sacramento Valley in Northern California. Next month’s event will be his first time running the 25 Hour.
“The 25 Hours of Thunderhill has always been a race that I’d wanted to compete in,” said Marks. “Joining this Flying Lizard team is kind of a homecoming, getting to work with some great guys I spent the early part of my career with. I love endurance racing and at Thunderhill Raceway, as it’s where I got my start. Additionally, the record of this team at this race is unparalleled and getting to go with a real shot to win makes it all that much better.”
Flying Lizard Motorsports crew chief and racer Charlie Hayes first got behind the wheel for the team at the 2016 25 Hour, playing a crucial part in the car’s second place finish, despite only having four gears for 70% of the race. Hayes returned in 2017 to race in the team’s lead car, celebrating his first 25 Hours of Thunderhill win in his first time racing a GT3 car.
“It is probably the most surreal announcement to have the honor of driving alongside Johannes and Wolf Henzler in an ex-Flying Lizard Porsche RSR,” said Hayes. “I’m extremely excited to get back in the Porsche RSR for the 2018 25 Hour. The car has proved to be a solid platform and has a lot of little tricks to make it even better. This is the best race in racing; no BOP, no driver ratings, no minimum pit stop times. Just a couple of simple rules to follow and harsh penalties. I’m really excited to have the crew working on the car. These guys are some of my best friends and I’ve spent a lot of time with them through the years. I know what they are capable of and they never quit. It will be a fun week for sure with all my friends in and out of the car. We hope to get the big trophy again on Sunday.”
Following his second place ES Class finish in 2016, Andy Wilzoch will return to compete in his second 25 Hour, at the same track where he first received his SCCA racing license in 1998. Wilzoch joined Flying Lizard in 2015, earning great success in the Porsche Club of America, the GT3 Cup Trophy USA, and World Challenge GTA and SprintX classes. Wilzoch became a Flying Lizard fan favorite earlier this season at Road America after bringing his brand new Porsche 911 GT3R to competition in the World Challenge double header.
“The 25 Hours of Thunderhill is always a fun event to run, especially with the Lizards,” said Wilzoch. “We’ve got a great track record here, and I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel to defend their winning record. It’s a great group of people, and I know we’ll have a good time doing it.”
Program Manager Darren Law will oversee the team’s entry, stepping down as a driver with three wins in three attempts at the 25 hour.
“With our regular full-season programs concluded for 2018, it is great to have this race available during the off season to keep everyone sharp,” said Darren Law, Program Manager at Flying Lizard Motorsports. “Toyo Tires has been such a great partner with us and we appreciate their support. Their racing slick has performed well and helped deliver us the wins over the past three years which always makes the racing more fun. This event is so enjoyable for all of us because we get to go back to a format where the outcome is more controlled by the team, without pit stop time limits or driver rankings. We have the freedom to enjoy pushing ourselves to the limit and in the end, get rewarded for that.”
This race will mark the fourth 25 Hours of Thunderhill joint effort for Flying Lizard and Toyo Tires since the pair partnered for the Toyo Proxes race slick development program in 2015. Following the success at the 25 Hour, the team entered into the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb earlier this year, finishing second in the Lizards’ first climb.
“We at Toyo Tires look forward to the unique challenges this grueling 25-Hour endurance event provides from a tire engineering perspective, as well as the opportunity to continue our longstanding technical partnership with Flying Lizard Motorsports,” said Marc Sanzenbacher, senior manager, motorsports, Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. “It is a real challenge to win this race overall, and to have accomplished that feat three years in a row is nothing short of extraordinary. We are confident that the grip and consistency of the Toyo Proxes Race Slick, combined with an exceptional driver line-up and top level Flying Lizard vehicle preparation will provide us the tools we need to go for victory number four.”
Flying Lizard Motorsports first competed in the event with Toyo Tires in 2015, perfectly executing the race to win not only in class but overall by 35 laps over the next competitor. The team returned to defend the win the following year, bringing an Audi R8 LMS and Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Both cars finished in the top three overall, with the Audi again securing the top spot. In 2017, the team again ran a perfect race to claim the overall win and two class victories with its Audi R8 LMS and Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR. With a low number of caution periods during the race, the Lizards beat the all-time laps completed record of 761 by setting a new high of 780.
The team has completed the driver lineup for its second entry, the details for which will be announced in the coming days.
The field will take the green flag at 11:00AM Pacific on December 1st, and race 25 hours to 12:00PM December 2nd. Known for its challenging weather conditions in the dead of winter, over 60% of the race will be completed at night, putting competitors to the test as they deal with varying levels of car classes. For event information, visit https://nasa25hour.com. The team will again attempt to broadcast the radio feed from at least one of the cars live on the Flying Lizard Motorsports YouTube page, which will also host a live chat, allowing fans worldwide to get exclusive access and interaction with team for all 25 Hours of the event. Subscribe to the team’s YouTube page to be notified when the broadcasts go live.
Source. Flying Lizard Motorsports