NEW CARS GIVE DYSON RACING NEW OUTLOOK HEADING INTO MOBIL 1 TWELVE HOURS OF SEBRING, 2006 AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES Sebring, Fla. - The new era starts this week for Dyson Racing. There's a new look and a new sense of enthusiasm floating around...
NEW CARS GIVE DYSON RACING NEW OUTLOOK HEADING INTO MOBIL 1 TWELVE HOURS OF SEBRING, 2006 AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES
Sebring, Fla. - The new era starts this week for Dyson Racing. There's a new look and a new sense of enthusiasm floating around the team's paddock. All that comes from, of course, a new car.
After only two months of testing and shakedowns, the New York-based team is ready to roll out its new AER-powered Lola B06/10s for the 54th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and the 2006 American Le Mans Series. It's not a moment too soon for everyone involved with the Dyson Racing program.
"It has been very positive," said Guy Smith, who will drive the No. 20 Dyson entry with Chris Dyson. "Whenever you have a new package and race engine, there is a certain amount of teething problems. But so far it has been fabulous."
Testing continued Tuesday at Sebring for the 12-hour endurance classic at America's toughest race track. On Monday, the No. 20 car posted the third-quickest time of the day at 1:48.840, behind only the two diesel-powered Audi R10s. It was more of the same Tuesday with the No. 20 third fastest in class and fifth overall.
"We're always pushing really hard to make sure we can challenge the Audis," said Andy Wallace, who will drive the No. 16 Lola with James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger. "With the first race being 12 hours and taking place at Sebring, it is a tall order to have everything ready. But in a few races, we should start seeing the car's true potential."
The new Lolas give Dyson Racing its best chance to win its first LMP1 championship in the American Le Mans Series. Dyson won the LMP675 title in 2003 but times and technology have changed since then. For the past two seasons, the team ran a pair of Lola EX257-AERs in the P1 class, but the cars were based on the Series' P675 configuration. That meant smaller engines, smaller tires and a less-than-robust package compared to up-to-date P1 cars.
"The chassis is fantastic and the engine has been boosted since being on the dyno," Weaver said. "The lighter car was pretty fragile. You couldn't really bounce off people and get through it. With these, you can be a bit more of a hooligan."
The new Lola is built strictly to the Series' LMP1 regulations, meaning larger tires, a more powerful engine (specifically AER's new 3.6-liter, twin-turbo V8) and a stronger, sturdier frame. Other than that, all drivers have said they can't tell much of a difference between old and new Lolas.
"The biggest gain now is that we have more downforce, so we can feel more grip in the corners," Smith said. "It has done everything we have expected it to. The engine is so much quieter and more effortless than the old (engine). So far, we feel like it will be very successful."
The American Le Mans Series begins its 2006 season with the 54th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The 12-hour endurance classic is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. EST on March 18 at Sebring International Raceway. It will be televised live on SPEED Channel in North America and MotorsTV in Europe. In addition, Greenlight-Television will distribute the race worldwide to more than 510 million households. American Le Mans Radio will have flag-to-flag coverage available at www.americanlemans.com, along with IMSA Live Timing & Scoring.