Two of the most prominent names in American road racing will team up for a bid on the LM P2 championship. Dyson Racing made it official Thursday, confirming the highly speculated rumors that it will campaign two Mazda MZR-R-powered Lola B08/86 coupes in the in what's part of a multi-year American Le Mans Series program with the Japanese automaker.
"No other car company can match Mazda's breadth of motorsports involvement," said team principal Rob Dyson. "They are an ascendant car company and while other car companies are cutting back their on-track programs, Mazda is strengthening theirs which highlights the depth of their commitment and dedication. Throughout all of our discussions, it has impressed us how closely their passion for the sport matches ours."
Dyson's move to Mazda comes after a two-year stint running Porsche RS Spyders in the highly competitive prototype division. BP, which sponsored the now-defunct B-K Motorsports Mazda outfit, comes on board as the team's new title sponsor. In fact, it's believed Dyson has purchased B-K Motorsports' Lola Mazda coupe that was run in the final two race weekends of the 2008 season.
"We are excited that the Dyson team is coming onboard," said Robert Davis, Senior Vice President of Quality, Research and Development for Mazda North America. "It was clear in the preparations they are making leading up to the announcement that they have a family mindset that will fit in well with the Mazda family of racers and teams. We're expecting big successes together."
While the partnership with Mazda may be new, Dyson shares a rich history with Lola and engine builder AER. Both brands' relationship dates back to 2002 when the Poughkeepsie, N.Y.-based team entered the series with Lola's EX257 AER-powered entry. The LM P675-spec chassis brought success the following year, with four class victories and the P675 championship for driver Chris Dyson.
History was also made in 2003 when James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger drove the lighter and more nimble machine to an overall victory at Sonoma's Infineon Raceway, the first for a second-tier prototype in series history.
The team then moved up to the LM P1 category in 2004, campaigning the EX257s for two more seasons and scoring three more overall wins. Dyson then rolled out Lola's new B06/10 prototype in 2006, powered by AER's twin-turbo V8. Its season-long development of the new package was rewarded with a runner-up finish in the P1 championship. Now it reunites with Lola, this time back in P2 but with a closed-top prototype.
"We have enjoyed great success in the past with the Lola-AER combination," Chris Dyson said. "We know how to get race-winning speed from this package and our valued partner, Michelin, will be adding their competitive expertise. When you combine this experience with the enthused support of our new partners BP and Mazda, Dyson Racing has a very promising future."
Dyson will likely be facing fewer competitors next year. Acura's Highcroft Racing and de Ferran Motorsports teams move up to P1 while Penske Racing jumps ship to Grand-Am and Andretti Green Racing redirects its efforts to A1GP. However, Fernandez Racing will return with an updated version of its P2 Acura, and other privateers could be thrown into the mix as well.
Drivers for Dyson's two Lola Mazdas will be announced at a later date, but it's expected that the line-up will remain similar to the team's 2008 roster. Testing will begin in force before the end of the year.
"This is a long-term commitment and we look forward to utilizing Mazda's breadth of involvement in racing to build programs of driver training and team development," Chris Dyson added. "Our new facility is about to come on line shortly and will lend itself well to developing additional platforms in partnership with Mazda. It will be a good new year for Dyson Racing."