Dyson Racing Takes Mosport ALMS
Weaver & Leitzinger Zoom to Toronto GP Victory
BOWMANVILLE, ONT, August 8, 2004 -- James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger scored a tough but ultimately convincing victory in the American Le Mans Series Toronto GP of Mosport. Starting from the pole position, their Dyson Racing Thetford / Norcold Lola finished 16.319 seconds ahead of the Champion Audi R8 of JJ Lehto and Marco Werner.
"We busted our asses to get here," said team owner Rob Dyson as the team celebrated in the winners' circle. "James and Butch did just what they needed to do. The crew did a great job, and Goodyear and (engine supplier) AER did a great job. With the exception of Sebring (the season-opening event) we've been running up front at every race.
"The guys at Champion are very tough. They do a great job, day in and day out. Winning means the most when you beat a worthy opponent."
The second Dyson Racing entry, the #20 Thetford / Norcold Lola driven by Chris Dyson and Andy Wallace, finished third. "We lost some time in the first stint, mainly because of some understeer. In retrospect, we may have been bit conservative with the ride height on our car."
Fastest all weekend, the #16 Dyson car led handily from the drop of the green flag, with Weaver extending his lead seemingly at will. Weaver's torrid pace -- he also set the race's fastest lap -- apparently forced the Audi team to gamble on not changing to fresh tires on their second pit stop. ALMS rules forbid the pit crew from working on the car while it is being refueled. By foregoing a tire change Lehto, who had been several seconds behind the leading Dyson car, was able to emerge from the pits 18 seconds ahead of Leitzinger, now at the wheel of the #16 Dyson entry.
"That was a gutsy call," Leitzinger said later. "At first I was a little bit concerned when they told me the Audi had left the pit, and I was only about half way around the track." Leitzinger radioed back to the pit, just to make sure that the Audi had not changed tires.
"I think they might come to regret that decision," Chris Dyson said at the time, noting that Leitzinger, on fresh Goodyear tires, was taking big chunks out of the Audi's lead.
Soon enough Lehto skidded off the course and into a tire barrier. Lehto was able to extricate the car, and limped back around the course for fresh tires. But by then the issue was decided and Leitzinger was able to ease his pace by about a second a lap, keeping the second-place Audi a safe distance behind as he continued his high-speed cruise to the checkered flag.
Back On Track
The Dyson team's victory marked the first time in over a year that the Audi R8 has been defeated in ALMS competition. And that last loss was at the hands of the Dyson team as well, when Leitzinger and Weaver took the checkered flag at Sonoma, California, in July, 2003. Since then there have been several times the Dyson team seemed poised for victory -- it's drivers have won the pole four times this season, including Mosport -- but until today fortune did not favor the team on race day. Twice minor mechanical problems cost the team victory, and other opportunities were lost to the vagaries of the weather.
"You can never get enough of this," Rob Dyson said, as he shook hands around the winner's circle. "I hope that this will be the first of more wins this season."