Dyson Cars 2nd & 3rd in Infineon Qualifying Leitzinger Misses Sonoma GP Pole by 8/100ths of a Second SONOMA, CA, July 17, 2004 -- Butch Leitzinger drove a torrid qualifying lap in his ...
Dyson Cars 2nd & 3rd in Infineon Qualifying
Leitzinger Misses Sonoma GP Pole by 8/100ths of a Second
SONOMA, CA, July 17, 2004 -- Butch Leitzinger drove a torrid qualifying lap in his #16 Thetford / Norcold Lola, but came up less than a tenth of a second short as Audi's Marco Werner set a new track record for prototype sportscars at Infineon Raceway. The second Dyson entry posted the third-best qualifying time for the American Le Mans Series Sonoma GP despite a series of problematic practice sessions.
"I just didn't get quite the lap I needed," Leitzinger admitted. "I think it was in the car, but I didn't quite get it. I just missed it by a tiny bit in couple of places, but that adds up."
ALMS officials experimented this weekend with a variation on single-car qualifying, limiting each car to a pair of warm-up laps, followed by two timed laps. The Dyson team found that its tires required two and a half laps to come to full operating temperature, which meant that effectively only the second qualifying lap would count. Coming through the Infineon track's high-speed kink on the second lap, the tail on Leitzinger's car slid out slightly ("I had a little wiggle," he reported later), and the lost time cost him the pole.
Despite missing the pole by an iota, Leitzinger is optimistic about the team's chances in tomorrow's race. ALMS rules require that a car start the race on the same tires it used for qualifying. "These Goodyears will be very good race tires," he said. "I think we'll have an exciting race, just like Lime Rock."
Two weeks ago at Lime Rock, Conn., Leitzinger roared back from a lap down to close to within 1.4 seconds of the race-winning Audi of Werner and JJ Lehto.
Sunday's pre-race warm-up session may be the key to the race performance of the #20 Dyson of Andy Wallace and Chris Dyson, according to Team Manager Randall Kelsey. "We've had handling issues with that car all weekend, plus a problem with the ECU this morning so we never did get a full practice session. And I think not being able to do a qualifying simulation during the last practice session hurt our qualifying effort with that car."
Leitzinger and co-driver James Weaver are the defending champions in the Sonoma Grand Prix.