Dec
7
2006
11165 Views

OCR Wins NASA’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill for 2006

Dec 7, 2006 11166 Views

O’Connell Racing (OConnellRacing.com), a leading southern California based team in the Grand Am Rolex Series and in NASCAR road racing announced today that the team was crowned the official winner of the west coast’s most prestigious endurance auto race, NASA’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill in northern California. The team ran a total of 2115 miles and 705 laps during the elapsed time of the event finishing the race over 30 laps ahead of the second place finisher, also a Porsche. Former 2005 Rolex Series GT champion Craig Stanton qualified the car and began the race from the pole after setting the fastest lap time. From the beginning of the race, Stanton battled with the #88 open cockpit Mazda powered spec racer setting some distance between the two before handing the car off to Greg Fordahl who created a 2 lap lead. Drivers Kevin O’Connell and Michael Speakman took over the car into nightfall with dropping temperatures followed by Betim Berisha and Jason Bowles taking the first complete darkness stints. The team set the overall pace for the race and had executed several mistake free pit stops until the team’s first pit stop around 9pm. Technical Director Roy Montgomery commented, “Mike came in hot and overshot the pit box at the end of his stint after picking up debris on the tires leading onto pit lane. After pushing the car back into the pit space the cars air jacks came down on the air hose rendering one of the air guns ineffective. I called for the battery powered backup gun and only lost a short time during the stop.”

The team extended its lead throughout the night and decided the initiate a driver change with fuel, tires and brake pads before midnight exiting Stanton and having Fordahl take over driving duties. Crew Chief Barry O’Brien stated, “the brake pad change Saturday night went extremely smooth. The team changed four tires, fuel and four corners of pad changes with a driver change in less than two minutes.” In the early morning hours temperatures reached the low 30’s and visibility became an issue for Speakman. Driver Mike Speakman commented, “ some of the other class race cars had lights installed that were extremely bright like something you would see in the BAJA 1000 and would light up the mirrors in the car to a point where it was difficult to locate the apex at certain points on the track.” Speakman completed his stint and maintained the team’s pace and handed the car off to O’Connell just before daybreak. The team executed a complete pit stop with tires and fuel as Speakman exited. Team principal and driver Kevin O’Connell commented, “ My daybreak stint at was pretty amazing as the sun rose from the east above the hills you had to adjust to what you were seeing from near tunnel vision in the darkness to the broad twilight of daybreak and warming temperatures. With sunlight you could see the endless debris off line on the track that was thrown on the course from cars going off throughout the night. You almost had to pass in the straights to avoid cutting down or flat spotting a tire.” Around 11am with an hour to go the team had established a 30-lap cushion over the second place Porsche and the third place Mazda spec racer. Around noon on Sunday the team took the checkered flag completing the 25 Hour race. O’Connell commented, “ I want to thank our partner in this race, Yokohama for supplying us with a great tire. We called on performance from the tires in the beginning of the race to get out of front of the Mazda and the other Porsche and again under nightfall needing to double stint the tires and cut down the times in the pits and the Yokohama’s delivered the grip and durability to help our drivers push ahead. Additionally, the professionalism and preparation of the Porsche GT-3 car by Betim Berisha and his firm BBI is the finest I’ve seen.”

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