Robert Davis Racing (RDR) made its annual trip to Willows, California last weekend for the annual 25 Hours of Thunderhill Presented by Hawk Brakes. The two time defending E2 class champion #34 Mazda RX-8, widely known as Kermit, was in top form, and looking for a three-peat. As in prior years, RDR teamed with Mazda to support their three-car MX-5 Cup entry, hosting Mazda dealers from around the country.

With help from Mazda employee volunteers, RDR and Kermit executed very well in practice and qualifying, with Joel Miller recording a class-leading pole time of 2:01.379. Backed by regular RDR drivers Dennis Holloway, Lee Papageorge and Jeremy Barnes, Kermit was the car to beat. As Papageorge noted: “Everyone who knows Kermit, knows he doesn’t like to practice or qualify, so we were plenty surprised at his consistency this year, Kermit is famous for frustrating little problems before the race.”

Race day brought great weather, and speed. Joel and Kermit quickly got out to an early two-lap lead. Around 3:00 PM, with Jeremy at the wheel, Kermit lost all power and coasted in to the pits. The team quickly found a blown ignition fuse and was back in action. Now three laps down, they started to claw their way back through the order. The team was hit again at 10:00 PM with another ignition fuse, this one requiring a tow back to the pit. The root cause of the problem was a broken ignition switch, which caused the starter to engage each time the clutch was pressed. After replacing the fuse and disconnecting the starter, the team was back on track, now a full 10 laps down.

Great driving and great work from the entire RDR crew allowed the #34 to gain back eight laps in the final 13 hours on pure speed and pit performance. Unfortunately, the team simply ran out of time, finishing the race in second place, still a little more than three laps arears of the lead. Drivers and spotters raced 642 laps, and 1926 miles with no contact or driving penalties. For reference, and to prove the pace of this year’s race, Kermit won the E2 class the previous two years, completing 570 and 573 laps respectively. The fastest lap of the race in the E2 class was completed by Joel, on lap 606, after 23 hours of racing.

Servicing all four cars, the RDR pit crew did over 80 pit stops without penalty. The tire crews mounted and used 11 sets of outstanding Hoosier racing tires on Kermit without delay or loose lug nuts.

While the ignition switch caused the delay, it was still an outstanding team effort. Overcoming the problems highlighted the core soul and the outstanding group at RDR.

Robert Davis summed it up: “This one (Thunderhill 25 Hour) is won by great teams, and all credit to KR Racing for running a flawless race to take the win. We didn’t win this one, but the team showed its greatness. Thank you guys.”

About RDR: RDR has been a dominant force on the west coast in Club Racing, winning regional, divisional and national titles for the last nine seasons.

RDR appreciates the support of Mother’s Polishes Waxes Cleaners, Long Road Racing, RAYS Wheels, Hoosier Racing Tires, MAZDA Motorsports Development, SpeedSource, Hawk Brakes, AWR, Classy Car Auto Detailing, Sparco, Pure Power Lubricants, Motul, and EMI.