Dayton and Field Finish Third in Top Class Sunday as ALMS Visits Mid-Ohio
LEXINGTON, Ohio, June 27 - The perseverance of Duncan Dayton, Jon Field and the rest of the people connected with Intersport Racing's Lola B160 Judd #37 was rewarded Sunday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course by a third-place finish in the top class, P1, in the American Le Mans Series' second event of the season.
After starting in last place, 23rd, since he didn't record a qualifying time due to mechanical problems, Field, of Dublin, Ohio, blasted through the field at the start. Knowing that the polesitting Dyson Lola #16 had stopped with an oil pump or engine problem at the start, the Intersport team knew it had a chance for a good showing despite its problems earlier in the weekend.
Field did his part. He was already in 17th by lap two, and by lap four he was ninth. By the fifth lap he was in seventh, right behind his son Clint, who eventually won the P2 class with co-driver Robin Liddell.
The elder Field advanced to sixth on the next lap in the #37, which is sponsored by Marquis Financial Services, Goodyear, Highcroft Racing and Banana Joe's. He was fifth by lap eight. He passed Ron Fellows for fourth on lap nine, and then whizzed by Oliver Gavin for third on lap 11.
Although things couldn't have been going better at that point, a hint of the trouble that lie ahead came instants later on lap 12 when Field radioed to the Intersport crew that he was having a problem with the car's gearbox. Although the Dyson Lola #20 which eventually finished second was only one minute ahead, Field's stirring assault was over when he radioed in that he only had first and second gear.
The team went back to the garage for repairs at 1:20 p.m., and 50 minutes later Dayton got in the car and put in back on track on lap 54, back in last place.
The gearbox problem was still an issue, unfortunately. Dayton quickly radioed in that he only had third, fourth and sixth gears. The crew told him to just tough it out and try to finish.
When Anthony Lazzaro's Ferrari lost its engine Dayton moved into 22nd place. He pitted for fuel only around lap 107 and then received a stop-and-go penalty for speeding on pit lane because the limiter that helps with that task only works in one of the gears he was missing.
"When you shift, you never know what gear you're going to get," Dayton reported around that point.
Still, keeping underway often counts for a great deal in endurance sports car racing. Despite all the problems the team still finished third in the top class, P1, when the Audi of J.J. Lehto and Marco Werner took the checkered flag on lap 124 in the two-hour-and-45-minute race, which was broadcast live on CBS.
"We don't know for sure, but it's possible that the gearbox problem may have been a throwback to an accident we had at Le Mans," Dayton explained while waiting for the repairs to be made in the garage area. "It's a part that doesn't usually fail. It may have looked OK visually, but there may have been a stress fracture in it from the Le Mans accident, and it just finally let go now. We don't know that for sure though. We broke the lay shaft, and they had to replace the gear stack.
"Actually running so slow was hard," he added later in victory lane. "I had third, fifth and sixth gear at the end, and sometimes fourth. By going so slow I was picking up a lot of rubber on the tires, so it was hard to get a good drive going. I just had to hang on mostly. I was giving everybody a ridiculous amount of room in the turns.
"But it was a good result for the team," he concluded. "Everyone worked very hard."
The team won't have long to wait until the next race, which will be near Dayton's home in North Salem, N.Y., as the ALMS races at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. on Monday, July 5.
For more information see www.intersportracing.com, www.americanlemans.com and www.restartcommunications.com.