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Eastern Racing/Turn 3 drive Radical SR3 to victory at 25 Hours of Thunderhill

Standing (Left to Right): Nathan Jones, Neil O’Donovan, Pablo Egel, Jason Dunford, Emanuel Talquenca, David Budres, Antoine Comeau, Eric Wagner, Russ Gaglio, Brian Halahan, Darren Gazey
Kneeling (Left to Right): Neil Alberico, Peter Dempsey, Scott Gates, Tom Drewer

Credit: Brett Becker and Doug Bergerdbpics.com

Willows, Calif. – After leading a staggering 638 laps out of 672 completed, the Eastern Racing team won the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill presented by Hawk Performance yesterday.

In a historic landmark, the #10 Eastern Radical SR3 RSX 1340 became the first car with an engine capacity of under two liters to win the endurance event in its 16 years of running.

People spend years trying to win outright at Thunderhill. To do it at all, let alone in your second year competing at this event, and to do it against much faster cars, is truly astounding.

Tom Drewer, Regional Manager, North America, Radical Sportscars Limited

The weekend started with a wet qualifying session on Friday and the team placing the Radical SR3 third for the start of the race.

Sporadic, rainy weather persisted through for the green flag on Saturday morning. Peter Dempsey began the 25-hour event under wet conditions and charged his way to the front of the field by lap 35. After 3.5 hours of driving, the track had dried out enough to make a pit stop for a change to IMSA Prototype Challenge driver Neil Alberico and a new set of slick tires.

During his lengthy stint, Alberico extended T3M’s lead over the second place #48 One Motorsports Radical. Late that night, Alberico swapped positions with Eric Wagner, who took over for the next two hours.

Wagner (this year’s 1340 Radical Cup North America champion) maintained the team’s comfortable lead and kept the #10 car away from trouble.

With a solid lead established, the team stopped to perform routine maintenance before putting 2019 Radical Cup North American overall champion Antoine Comeau in the car. Comeau continued the race on wet tires to accommodate the ever-changing weather and jumped right back on the pace to keep the #10 Eastern Radical SR3 seven laps clear of the nearest rival at that stage, the #64 K2R Motorsports LMP3 car.

Just before midnight, Comeau ended his flawless three hour stint and handed the reins back over to Dempsey. Almost halfway through the race, the #10 Eastern Radical SR3 lost both left headlights but had no qualms about pitting for a new nose due to their significant lap lead over the second place #64 K2R Motorsports car.

As the sun came up at Thunderhill Raceway Park, Dempsey still held onto first place after driving for six hours overnight. Just before the 20th hour, the team pitted for wet tires, and Alberico took over for Dempsey. Though fatigue was starting to set in for the team and drivers, Alberico maintained an 11-lap lead throughout his three hour stint before turning the car back over to Dempsey for the final hours.

With just two hours to go, Dempsey made the first mistake of the weekend, spinning in turn 12 and momentarily beaching the #10 Eastern Radical SR3. Thanks to the substantial lead the team had established during the first 23 hours, the leaders were able to get back on track without losing any positions.

Dempsey settled into a comfortable pace for the final hour and a half of the race and took the checkered flag in P1—resulting in a massive win for the team and Radical Sportscars.

“We as a team achieved something very special this weekend,” said driver and Team Owner Peter Dempsey. “We came here knowing we had a shot to win if we could execute our plan to not race anyone else but ourselves. Eric (Wagner) and Antoine (Comeau) did two stints in the race that were flawless, and with the conditions they were in, it was extremely tough to drive. Having Neil (Alberico) as part of our driver lineup was great. With his experience in this style of racing and his professionalism, he brought a lot to the team this weekend, and we were glad to have him as part of our team.”

“The car held up fantastically, and we had zero mechanical issues for the entire race which was amazing,” continued Dempsey. “Emanuel Talquenca, Dave Budres, and Pablo Egel built this car at the shop, so congrats to them. Also, a special thank you Radical’s Nathan Jones and Newmans Wachs’ Brain Halahan who led the team and ran the strategy during the race. The pit stops were near perfect every time with a crew that hadn’t worked together before, so a special thanks to all of my crew that came out this weekend and made this such a special weekend for Eastern Racing.”

“I am very proud of our team,” said Eric Wagner. “We were all 100% focused on the win from the start. It is amazing that the crew and drivers were mistake-free the entire race under such stressful conditions. This is definitely a win we will remember.”

“It was an incredible way to end an already successful season for our new team,” said Antoine Comeau. “This event is very demanding on all the drivers and crew, and I see this result reflecting the amazing work that everyone has been doing all year.”

“Of all the races I have won in my career, this was definitely one of the most challenging and the most rewarding,” said Neil Alberico. “Every driver had phenomenal long stints in very tough conditions. To be able to pull off this win is a huge testament to the quality of the Eastern Racing team and the build of their Radical SR3 RSX. I’m happy to play a small part in this team’s amazing season.”

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