Don't Pack Your Suitcase
Dyson Racing Goes Testing in Its Own Backyard
POUGHKEEPSIE, NY, May 26, 2004 - It's been three years since prototype sportscars have raced at Connecticut's picturesque Lime Rock Park. But this year the American Le Mans Series visits the challenging 1.5-mile circuit for the first time, and last week Dyson Racing - winner of the four most recent prototype races at the classic road course that the team calls its home track - took the opportunity to test its Thetford / Norcold Lola in preparation for the July 4th weekend American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio.
"From the standpoint of getting through our test program, this was the most efficient test we've had this year," said Chris Dyson, who with Andy Wallace and Rob Dyson took on the driving tasks. "We had a limited amount of time on the track, but we got everything on the list done, and in just 160 miles.
"Based on our earlier testing at Mid-Ohio and Mosport, I think our work at Lime Rock confirmed that our basic setup is pretty much transportable," Dyson continued. "I'm quite encouraged by our pace at Lime Rock. We've made good progress with our engine management so we have a bit more power and better throttle response. And Goodyear continues to make progress with the tires. Of course Lime Rock is a track that suits our car - except for the chicane it's all fast turns. The car is just unbelievable through West Bend and the Downhill."
Home Court Advantage?
The logistics are simple when the Dyson Racing team goes testing or racing at Lime Rock. "We can almost go home for lunch," noted team principal Rob Dyson. Indeed, Dyson's home in Millbrook, NY, is less than 30 minutes away, and the team's shop in Poughkeepsie is under an hour's drive. So, there are no hotels to book, or fuel permits for the team's hauler. It's just a quick drive through the New England countryside to the track, and in the evening the crew are all home sleeping in their own beds.
Rob Dyson has been racing there since the 1970s, but his recent racing activity has been limited due to a shoulder injury. Now recovered, he drove the last section of the Lime Rock test. According to Wallace, the senior Dyson was quick right out of the box. "He was flat out down No Name Straight on his first lap," said Wallace. "It was impressive because he hasn't driven much at all in the last year. He's still quite quick."
"Lime Rock is a track that's been around a long time," Dyson said. "You look at the roster of sportscar drivers over the years - they've all driven there. It's just a great feeling to be there. The track is short, but complex. It's very fast, narrow and bumpy. Chassis setup is very important, and so is the ability to get through traffic. I think that's where our team's experience here helps. James (Weaver) and Butch (Leitzinger) won the last four prototype sportscar races there, from 1998 through 2001. We've never raced the Lola there, but I think that our test here will help us win a fifth."