Montinola survives the 25 Hours of Thunderhill racing the Spoon Sports TSX Fremont, CA , December 6, 2006 -- Formula car standout Robbie Montinola enjoyed his first endurance race competing with the Opak Racing/Spoon Sports team in the NASA...
Montinola survives the 25 Hours of Thunderhill racing the Spoon Sports TSX
Fremont, CA , December 6, 2006 -- Formula car standout Robbie Montinola enjoyed his first endurance race competing with the Opak Racing/Spoon Sports team in the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill in Willows, CA. The young Filipino-American teamed with veteran sports car racer Randy Pobst and USTCC director Ali Arsham to drive the Spoon Sports prepped Acura TSX (Euro Accord Type R) while Dave Brown and Marc Donaldson, driving the sister car (Acura RL), helped drive a few stints.
As a late minute addition to the field, Montinola started the event last without posting a qualifying time the day before. He set a conservative pace following Spoon Sports president Tatsuru Ichishima in the team's Acura RL. Being new to endurance racing Montinola knew it was key to conserve fuel and brakes as well as be easy on the engine. After a strong one and half hour stint Montinola handed off the driving duties to teammate Ashram.
"The Spoon Sports TSX handled incredible and I wanted to make sure we kept the car out of danger during the start and set a good pace to monitor fuel consumption", said Montinola after his first stint in the car.
The team continued to set a comfortable pace and with a third of the race in the books the Spoon Sports TSX was leading the E0 class. As night fell and temperatures dropped the team continued to push on and lead the class swapping places back and forth with the more powerful K&N Lancer Evolution. The drivers kept the car on track dipping into the top 10 overall maintaining the lead toward the half way mark.
"During the night stints the car felt very consistent, our Yokohama A048's were really working well even with hundreds of laps on them. We had a good fuel strategy and were stretching our stints longer by saving fuel and short shifting", said Montinola.
Disaster struck when a Miata struck the left side of the TSX at the apex of turn 1. Driver Arsham was behind the wheel and nursed the damaged car back to the pits after going off course due to the collision. The crew found more problems related with the brakes and had to undergo major repairs to get the TSX back on course. After a long two hours in the pits the car emerged many laps down and out of contention for the class win.
Montinola was the first driver to get back in after the major service and worked out little problems with the car's brakes. The team decided to push on and nurse the hurt car to the checkered flag. Montinola continued to set a similar pace and fought their way back up to the top 5 in class.
"The crew did a great job fixing our racecar and we tried to get ourselves back into contention but we lost a lot of time and laps. It was still a great experience and we look forward to next year's race", said Montinola.
The Spoon Sports TSX finished 5th in class with Randy Pobst taking the checkered flag to complete Montinola's first 25 Hours of Thunderhill.
Montinola thanks Opak Racing and Spoon Sports for the opportunity to compete with their team this year. In addition, he thanks his family, supporters, and sponsors: LeMans Karting, Skip Barber Racing School, Red Bull, Ezekiel Clothing, Philippine Department of Tourism, Yokohama Tire, TPR Magazine, Axcel Fast Graphics, HJC Helmets, Sparco, and all of the fans.
Montinola has enjoyed an exciting 2006 and looks forward to new opportunities for 2007. Montinola focuses to compete in the ultra competitive Champ Car Atlantic Championship along with one-offs in various sports cars series.