Eric Curran 3rd in Class at 25 Hours of Thunderhill
SPEED World Challenge and GrandAm winner joins factory MER Mazda MX-5 program for the 25hr event, takes 3rd in class.
Easthampton, MA - The versatile Eric Curran added another tough event to his packed calendar, joining the 5-car factory MER Mazda MX-5 program for the 25 Hours of Thunderhill endurance event held in Northern California.
A winner of six professional sports car races in 2007, Curran carried the momentum of his strong World Challenge GT and Koni Challenge ST seasons into the 25 hours race. Joining good friends in the #89 MER MX-5, Curran knew the event held promise. "SPEED GT racer Dane Moxlow and I had spoken about racing in the 13 hour race at VIR a few weeks earlier but I had a scheduling conflict. Then we got talking about the 25hr at Thunderhill. Dane connected me with Jason Saini from MER and we put all of us together for a great chance for a class win.
With MER and Saini winning the SCCA Mazda MX-5 Cup in 2007, Curran knew he was with the right team. "MER has a great reputation with MX-5's and has won many championships, so it was a great opportunity. My first time at Thunderhill was also a blast."
"We had a great race, but had a few minor mechanical issues, would have been in contention with our sister car, the #92 MER MX-5, that won our class. We consumed tires quicker than some of the other cars because of how loose we ran the setup. We had minor shifter problem that set us back a little, and I got stuck in the pit lane out of fuel during a yellow. We lost a few laps because NASA rules say you can't fuel during a yellow. Other than the usual tire wear and brake pad replacement the MER Mazda MX5 ran beautifully. I had a great time sharing driving duties with Rob Huffmaster, Richie Hearn and Dane Moxlow."
For a driver so accustomed to delivering wins for his team, Curran is trying to embrace being anywhere other than the top step of the podium. "If I do the 25hr again, I'll be looking for a win next time out. Third place is only OK every once and a while!"
While he's focused on winning in the World Challenge sprint race format and the short endurance racing format in GrandAm, Curran is by no means new to long distance competition; he counts a Rolex 6hr win and 3rd place at the Rolex 24hr in 2000 as his proudest endurance racing achievements. An opportunity to return to the Rolex 24 is something he'd look forward to.
"I've done enough endurance racing to understand what it takes to succeed. A 25hr race is never easy, but with a good group of drivers and a car with the MX-5's reliability, all you have to focus on is getting to the finish. Endurance racing takes a different mentality vs. a sprint race. You have to be very consistent, easy on the car and still be quick. This strategy a lot of drivers have difficulty with. I really enjoy these races almost as much as sprint racing."
Sharing a car with multiple drivers is also a challenge. "It can be tough sometimes. It can get competitive, and it can get upsetting. As drivers on the same team we have to remember, we are all on the same team. Also an endurance race can't be won running full speed all the time. We each have to be consistent, respectful to the car and the other drivers. This is a team effort, and working as a great team will always give the best results."
Stay tuned for Eric Curran's 2008 racing plans to be revealed in the coming weeks.