Houston: P1 - Dyson spotlight

STREET CIRCUIT COULD FAVOR NEW DYSON LOLAS Braselton, Ga. - A sturdy, robust package combined with positive feedback during recent testing has led to plenty of smiles at Dyson Racing. Confidence - not to mention expectations - are on the rise...

STREET CIRCUIT COULD FAVOR NEW DYSON LOLAS

Braselton, Ga. - A sturdy, robust package combined with positive feedback during recent testing has led to plenty of smiles at Dyson Racing. Confidence - not to mention expectations - are on the rise for next week's Lone Star Grand Prix.

The two-car team could be in perfect position to pick up its first victory of the new American Le Mans Series season with the new Lola B06/10-AER next week at Houston's Reliant Park street circuit. Following a second- and third-place finish in LMP1 at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Dyson Racing has done considerable work in the wind tunnel and on the dyno (along with a few days of testing at Road Atlanta) in preparation of the upcoming Houston and Mid-Ohio rounds.

"We had a great test at Atlanta prior to Sebring," said Guy Smith, who is teaming with Chris Dyson in the No. 20 Lola. "I really don't think we showed our hand at Sebring at all. Our car itself has good mechanical grip. A place like Houston definitely should suit our car."

Two elements of street-circuit racing are working in Dyson Racing's favor. The new car is built to new LMP1 regulations and at 900 kilograms is more than 100 kilograms heavier than the Lola EX257s the team has used since 2002. The added weight and rigid design will help greatly, considering street circuits are bumpy by nature and have little to no margin for error.

"I think that the car should be well-equipped for the tight Houston circuit," Chris Dyson said. "We have quite a bit more downforce than our previous car and everything is that much beefier at a higher weight. It certainly helps to be running at 900 kilograms because that's the weight around which the car was designed."

The current Lola also has a much more powerful engine than previous. But there have been some hiccups along the way, most notably cooling issues at Sebring. But Smith says that was sorted out at Road Atlanta just a couple of weeks after the 12 Hours.

"As the engine would get hotter, we would lose power," Smith explained. "Part of that is the location of the air coolers on the car. We know what the problem is, and we've been working in the wind tunnel and on the dyno to fix them."

Should Dyson Racing claim an overall win at Houston, it will do so against some familiar faces. The Audi R8, with 47 Series wins since 2000, will race in the next three Series rounds before giving way to the diesel-powered R10 TDI, which won at Sebring. Dyson's James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger beat the R8 twice last year. In addition, Autocon Motorsports is fielding the same Lola that Chris Dyson and Andy Wallace ran last year.

Smith also is wary of a couple of P2 entries: Penske Racing's two Porsche RS Spyders and the Intersport Racing Lola B05/40-AER, which won in class at Sebring.

"The American Le Mans Series is fantastic because you're always racing in mixed company," Dyson said. "There's always action on the track. On a street course, the closing rates on the slower cars are magnified because of the tight confines. Overtaking is undoubtedly going to be difficult in Houston, but that's why the race should be such a good show. The organizers have done a terrific job putting this event together. They're experienced and they have listened to the drivers' input, so I think it should be a nice event for us."

The next round of the 2006 American Le Mans Series is the Lone Star Grand Prix, scheduled for 8 p.m. CDT on May 12 in Houston. It will be broadcast at 1 p.m. May 13 EDT on CBS Sports, the first of five straight Series events on the CBS network. Qualifying is set for 6:15 p.m. CDT on May 11. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage at www.americanlemans.com, which also will have IMSA Live Timing & Scoring.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Andy Wallace , Guy Smith , Butch Leitzinger , James Weaver , Chris Dyson
Teams Team Penske , Dyson Racing