Photo courtesy Flying Lizard Motorsports

Flying Lizard, Toyo Tires complete Thunderhill three-peat

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Flying Lizard Motorsports and Toyo Tires remained a force in this year’s NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill. The annual early December event held in Willows, Calif. saw the team and tire manufacturer win its third straight Thunderhill race, with the No. 45 Audi R8 LMS of Darren Law, Tom Haacker, Nate Stacy and Charlie Hayes capturing the overall victory (and in the ES class).

Adding to the spoils was the team’s second car, the No. 74 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport of Johannes van Overbeek, Mike Hedlund, Craig Watkins and Ross Thompson, adding a class victory (in Toyo Tires GT Challenge class).

The No. 45 Audi led early but following an in-race oddity when the pace car broke down, one of RYNO Racing’s Ginetta G57 prototypes moved to the lead. That car later broke down overnight and by 4:45 a.m., the Lizard Audi made up the lost time to overcome the deficit and take the lead back.

Darren Law, Flying Lizard’s program manager who still drives as often as he can, summed up the viewpoint from the Lizard standpoint after another exhausting, grueling but satisfying Thunderhill triumph.

“I really had a great time driving this weekend, the Audi R8 LMS was on rails, not only was the car preparation great but the Toyo Tires were amazing, you could place the car anywhere on track, we were double stinting tires throughout the night and able to keep the same pace as a fresh set, it just made it a lot of fun,” he said.

“None of my co-drivers put a wheel wrong the entire race and our car came through without a single mark on it. I am also really proud of the team and the extra effort we put in together for an entry for the inaugural Toyo GT4 class with the Porsche Cayman. Johannes, Mike, Ross, and Craig drove a flawless race and provided once again a winning effort for this class as well. Thanks to everyone involved!”

“What an amazing weekend,” added Marc Sanzenbacher, senior manager, motorsports, Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. “It was our third consecutive overall race win with Flying Lizard Motorsports in our Audi R8 LMS Ultra and there were Toyo Tires shod vehicles on the top step of four NASA 25 Hour race classes. I think we have proven once again that the Toyo Proxes family of tires is the only choice for those who are serious about winning.”

As they’ve demonstrated rather well over the last two years, Flying Lizard once exercised its social media channels to great effect at Thunderhill to provide enhanced coverage, team radio and constant fan interaction. A recap of its race can be found at its Twitter page for a further look back at how the Lizards tripled up.

Daniel Ricciardo would relish being Lewis Hamilton’s teammate

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BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Daniel Ricciardo says he would relish the challenge of having Lewis Hamilton as his teammate if he joins Mercedes next year.

Ricciardo is out of contract at Red Bull at the end of the season and expressed interest in joining teams like Mercedes or Ferrari to help him challenge for the championship.

The Australian says he would “love to obviously be challenged against the best and Lewis is obviously up there.”

He adds: “I don’t want to say it’s just Lewis I’m looking for but that would be a good challenge.”

Ricciardo says he won’t accept a faster car if it means playing second fiddle to an established star.

He says “there’s always been really good clarity and fairness (at Red Bull) … and I would expect that environment everywhere.”