Flying Lizard and Toyo Tires Reveal Thunderhill Drivers
December 5-6, Flying Lizard Motorsports and Toyo Tires will compete in North America’s longest endurance racing event, the USAF 25 Hours of Thunderhill. Taking the command of the No. 45 Toyo Tires / Flying Lizard Audi R8 LMS will be Darren Law, Johannes van Overbeek, Guy Cosmo and Tomonobu Fujii, all four of whom have raced previously with Flying Lizard Motorsports.
The event will mark Darren Law’s first race back as a driver since becoming Program Manager in 2014. After the team’s inception in 2004, Law drove for the team up until 2012, celebrating 12 podiums with co-drivers Johannes van Overbeek, Seth Neiman and Patrick Long. As teammates, Law and van Overbeek earned the first Flying Lizard Motorsports win in the American Le Mans Series at Mid-Ohio in 2004. The team ultimately finished 2nd in the championship that year. The 2015 running of the 25 Hours of Thunderhill will be Law’s first time participating in the event.
“I am really looking forward to this event for several reasons, said Law. “First, it is a great next step in our relationship with Toyo Tires. We have been working with them all season developing the Toyo® Proxes® Slick and I can’t wait to see how it performs in true race conditions. It will be a nice way to finish off our 2015 season. We won’t have the pressure of a race like Daytona, so it’s a bit less stressful.”
Both van Overbeek and Law were key players in the opening season for Flying Lizard Motorsports, earning a total of 8 podiums in 2004 as teammates. van Overbeek not only aided in the creation of the team, but earned a 2nd place finish in the team’s first race at the 24 Hours of Daytona alongside Founder Seth Neiman, and co-drivers Lonnie Pechnik, Peter Cunningham and Mike Rockenfeller. He continued to drive for the team until 2008, collecting 29 podiums in four years. A three-time overall winner of the 25 Hours of Thunderhill with Mercer Motorsports, van Overbeek is eager to return to the event with Flying Lizard Motorsports.
“The 25 hour is a great race and Flying Lizard is a great team,” said van Overbeek. “I’ve had successful races driving with both Guy and Darren and I’m hoping this year’s 25 will be no different. I can’t wait to get started.”
After joining the team for the Monterey Grand Prix and Petit Le Mans in the TUDOR Championship, Cosmo will return for his third sports car event with Flying Lizard Motorsports in 2015. No stranger to the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, Guy Cosmo celebrated a win overall in 2010 with van Overbeek and now-Flying Lizard Technical Director Tommy Sadler, in a Flying Lizard supported Porsche GT3 Cup.
“I’m excited to be back with Flying Lizard and Audi,” said Cosmo. “We’ve been strong this season and will take that momentum to Thunderhill with a great driving line up for Toyo Tires. Darren and I were teammates early in my sportscar career and Johannes and I teammates for years as well, so this will be a great reunion for us. I love driving the Audi R8 LMS and can’t wait to see how the Toyo® Proxes® Slicks perform. I’m ready for another overall victory at Thunderhill.”
Coming from Japan, Audi Japan Super GT driver Tomonobu Fujii will round out the all-star driver lineup. Fujii has 10 years of experience in Super GT and is a podium finisher in the 2013 Dubai 24 Hours. Fujii competed in his first Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona this year with Flying Lizard Motorsports. Despite the No. 45 car suffering an early race issue and losing valuable time in the garage, Fujii alongside drivers Robert Thorne, Markus Winkelhock and Satoshi Hoshino finished the 24 Hour endurance race, showing competitive skill to the end. This will also be Fujii’s first 25 Hours of Thunderhill.
“I am very excited with this announcement and am thrilled to join this race as one of the drivers in a new partnership of Flying Lizard Motorsport and Toyo Tire,” said Fujii. “It is also an important opportunity for Audi to join Thunderhill 25 Hours race for which Toyo Tire has participated in many time. I’m also happy to be able to work in USA once again following the 24 Hours of Daytona this year with Flying Lizard Motorsports. I can’t wait to go to Thunderhill next month.”
“We could not be happier to be partnering with such a prestigious group of drivers for this event,” said Marc Sanzenbacher, Sr. Manager, Motorsports at Toyo Tires. “Darren has been a key figure in our tire development program this year, as such his involvement is essential. Tomonubu-San, Johannes and Guy have proven themselves on racetracks the world over throughout their illustrious careers. With Johannes and Guy having both secured overall wins at this event in the past, we are confident that we have gathered a team with the ability to bring home an overall victory for Toyo and Flying Lizard Motorsports.”
“Fujii ran with us at Daytona this year and did a great job, and it will be fun to drive with Johannes and Guy again as they have both been my teammates throughout the years,” concluded Darren Law. “I am excited with our driver line up, as everyone is fast and everyone is very experienced. We take any event we compete in seriously, so even though this isn’t a pro race, our guys will give 100%.”
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 six 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. 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.
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 complete selection of premium replacement tires for nearly every make and model including light trucks, SUVs, high performance cars and luxury vehicles as well as the M-Line for commercial trucks. Consumer product lines include the popular Open Country® tires for light trucks and SUVs; Proxes® ultra-high performance tires; Versado® tires for luxury passenger cars; Celsius® variable conditions tires; and the value line of Extensa® passenger car tires. Many of the tires are built in the United States at their state-of-the-art factory in Bartow County, Georgia.