As a continuation of their tire development partnership, Flying Lizard Motorsports and Toyo Tires will return to the USAF 25 Hours of Thunderhill in Willows, California this December. The team dominated the endurance event in 2015, not only winning in the ES class, but overall by 35 laps.
After completing just under 2,000 miles in one race, the reliability and durability of the No. 45 Audi R8 LMS played a large role in the team’s 2015 success, and the same car will compete to defend the win of North America’s longest endurance race. Flying Lizard Motorsports Program Manager Darren Law and former Flying Lizard driver Johannes van Overbeek have returned to the 25 Hour driver lineup, and will be joined by previous Lizard drivers Dion von Moltke and Mike Hedlund. A part of the team’s 2014 American Le Mans Series and 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship efforts, von Moltke is also no stranger to the 25 Hour, having competed in the event twice previously. Hedlund recently joined Flying Lizard in its GT3 Cup Trophy USA competition, as well as World Challenge. Hedlund also has participated in the event, earning the ES class pole position in 2012.
Since last year’s impressive win, Toyo Tires and Flying Lizard Motorsports have continued to develop the Toyo Proxes® Slicks, which also proved to be crucial to a safe and successful run at the event. Located in Willows, California, the 25 Hours of Thunderhill is known for its unpredictable weather, ranging from sunny and chilly to cold, damp, or snowy conditions. Fourteen of the 25 hours of the 2015 event were in darkness, bringing the track temperature down, and changing the conditions for tires. Through the various tests completed in the last ten months, Toyo Tires will come fully prepared to face all conditions the event will bring.
“We look forward to the challenges of this year’s 25-Hours, and are returning to prove once again that Toyo Proxes Slicks are the tires to have for drivers looking to dominate in any form of road racing,” said Marc Sanzenbacher, senior manager, motorsports, Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. “The race conditions at this event are notoriously unpredictable and we welcome the various technical challenges it presents our engineers. We have some new cool weather and intermediate rain tire options to evaluate for this event and we look forward to gathering important development data while pursuing another overall victory.”
While the No. 45 Audi R8 LMS has a strong package heading into the event, much of the race’s outcome will depend on elements out of the competitors’ control, such as weather and incidents involving other cars. For more information about the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, visit nasa25hour.com.
We are excited to return to the 25 hours of Thunderhill again this season with Toyo Tires to defend our overall win from last year. We now have another full year of development work completed in our ongoing partnership with Toyo Tires. There has been a lot of progress and this is a great opportunity for both of us to put all of our hard work to the test with a long endurance event. Of course, our ultimate goal is to win, but what is most important is to showcase the speed and durability of the Toyo Proxes racing slick in extreme conditions. We are again coming with a great driver lineup, Johannes has been with us for many years and did a great job last year. Dion has also driven for us in the past; he is fast and does a great job both on track and also off track as the Audi brand ambassador. As a new addition, we are happy to have Mike Hedlund join us for this event. He joined Flying Lizard with his cup car this season and we have been very impressed with his speed and race craft. He shows a lot of potential and also has experience in this race, everyone is a good fit and we are looking forward to this event again.
Johannes van Overbeek
I’m excited to be back with Flying Lizard and Toyo Tires in the Audi R8 for one of my favorite events of the year, the 25 hours of Thunderhill. Last year the car ran flawlessly and we put the Toyo’s through 25 hours of every condition you can imagine. Whether it was rain, dry, mixed conditions, or sometimes mud, we were always the quickest car on track. As usual, the key is staying out of trouble, keeping the car out of the pits and executing flawless stops for the duration of the event. If everyone does their part we’ll have a decent shot of putting the Toyo/FLM Audi on the top step again. If we can accomplish that feat, it’ll be a 5th overall victory for me which no other driver has accomplished at this event.
I can’t wait to get back to work with Flying Lizard for the 25 Hours of Thunderhill! I have unfinished business with this event as I last competed in the 25 Hour back in 2012 where I was able to claim the ES class pole position, but suffered an engine failure after 23 hours while fighting for the overall win. It’s one of the most demanding and brutal endurance races in the world with a giant grid, huge differences in car speeds and unpredictable weather — at the best of times! In order to be successful here the drivers need to be smart and fast while utilizing the best equipment available. Our recipe of Toyo Tires, Flying Lizard and Audi will check those boxes for us, with room to spare!
Dion von Moltke
I am so excited to be rejoining Flying Lizard Motorsports for their return to the Thunderhill 25 Hour with Toyo Tires! I had a great couple of seasons driving for the team, and have remained friends with everyone there since my departure from the team. Team manager, Thomas Blam, and I have been working hard to find a way to work together again and I could not be happier that it finally worked out!
Last year I was a competitor against Flying Lizard and Toyo, and I must say how well their Audi R8 was performing on debut with Toyo tires was very impressive. Thunderhill is such a mentally challenging race between the constant changing conditions, and the amount of cars on track. You need a complete team effort to fight for a win at this track, let alone come in and dominate it like Flying Lizard Motorsports did last year. I know all of us have our sights on getting the team their second win in a row, but we will all need to be on our A game to make that happen!
About Toyo Tires®
Established in 1966, Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. represents the innovation, quality, performance, and excellent service that Toyo Tires has delivered worldwide for 70 years. The company offers a full line of premium tires for nearly every vehicle including light trucks, SUVs, crossovers, sports cars, luxury cars and hybrids as well as commercial trucks. Many of the tires are built in the United States at their state-of-the-art factory in White, Georgia. To find the right tire for your vehicle as well as an authorized dealer, visit www.toyotires.com. Be sure to join the Toyo Tires community on: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
About Flying Lizard Motorsports
Since its inception in 2004, Flying Lizard Motorsports has become an iconic team in the world of sports car racing. The California based team has celebrated seven driver and team championships, as well as competed internationally at the 24 Hours of Le Mans eight times. The Lizards burst on the American Le Mans Series scene in 2004, competing in the GT class until 2012. In 2013, the team moved to the GTC class, still competing in legendary events such as the 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Daytona. In 2014, the team expanded its program to include running two Audi R8 LMS in the TUDOR Championship, and in 2015, again expanded the program to include two Porsches in Porsche Club racing, and two McLaren 650S GT3s with K-PAX Racing in the World Challenge series. Flying Lizard closed out the season with a dominating win at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill with Toyo Tires. In 2016, Flying Lizard supported K-PAX Racing to clinch the World Challenge Driver, Team, and Manufacturer Championships. No matter the race series or race car, Flying Lizard Motorsports has proven to be a championship contender in sports car racing. For more information, visit lizardms.com. For additional photos and all behind-the-scenes updates, check us out on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.