Grand-Am Cup and USTCC driver Gary Sheehan of Martinez, CA has helped earn Subaru its first-ever podium finish in a North American Endurance race, with a 3rd place overall finish in the #66 ART/ESX/Car & Driver/TC Design/JustRacing.com Subaru STi, at the 25hrs of Thunderhill. Racing in the highest car class (ES), against proven powerhouse GT cars such as Porsche 996 and BMW M3, Sheehan qualified the all-wheel-drive, turbocharged, four-cylinder car 4th on the grid, (with a lap of 1:58.447 on DOT street-legal Toyo tires). In his first-ever 25-hour endurance race, Sheehan drove the team’s first, middle and final stints, a total of 7 hours, on the way to helping the team secure their unprecedented high overall finish.
The team’s strategy was to run the car’s power and suspension settings very conservatively, to ensure a full 25 hours of reliability, keeping more power in reserve if needed in the closing hours. Despite running most of the race at a modest, less-than-stock 9psi of turbo boost, Sheehan and the team’s exceptional group of drivers were able to post extremely competitive lap times. Early in the race, Sheehan laid down the team’s fastest race lap, a 1:59.8 on lap 3. During his final, marathon four-hour stint, he was turning consistent laps of 2:01, preserving the team’s P3 position while managing tire wear on the single set of tires used over the final stint. It was more than enough to comfortably secure the podium finish, and the team is overjoyed at its fantastic result.
Gary Sheehan comments,
“Marshall Pruett put together an incredible team effort here; Jaime from ESX, Tony and Joe from TC Design, our own Joel Gat and the entire crew were absolutely amazing, going without sleep for days, and keeping the car running flawlessly during the entire race. All our drivers did a fantastic job, and we are very happy to have put the Subaru STi on the podium against so many higher-powered GT cars. I want to especially thank Marshall for asking me to be on this team, and Ali Afshar of ESX for the car and support’what a fantastic experience.”
The STi was incredibly consistent the entire race. During my last stint it felt nearly identical to what I drove at the start of the race. Considering this car was converted to a 25-hour car in just one month, it is a testament to the quality of preparation and products that went into this effort. The PDX-tuned engine never skipped a beat and the Toyo tires performed consistently throughout. The StopTech brakes and Pagid pads were incredible, with consistent pedal feel and fade-free stopping ability the entire 25 hours, all on a single set of rotors! Nothing on the car felt used up at the end of the race. Simply amazing!”
The race, which finished Sunday at noon, featured 58 entries, in a multitude of classes, and boasts a timed length of 25 hours of competitive racing; 1 hour more than LeMans, Daytona, Nurburgring, or Bathhurst. It’s a daunting test against a who’s who of well-known touring car and GT teams and drivers, but a solid, well-organized effort from the entire team kept problems to a minimum. The team’s full line-up of drivers included: Gary Sheehan (Grand-Am Cup, USTCC); Dave McEntee (ALMS); Csaba Csere (Editor-in-Chief, Car and Driver); Dale Sievwright (USTCC); Auston Harris, age 14 (Formula TR); Marco Romani (BMWCCA).