The New Car Did Just Fine, Thank You SEBRING, FL March 18, 2006 - The definition of a Sebring Sandwich: a moral victory wrapped in a solid result. The ...
The New Car Did Just Fine, Thank You
SEBRING, FL March 18, 2006 - The definition of a Sebring Sandwich: a moral victory wrapped in a solid result. The #16 Thetford/Norcold AER-powered Lola B06/10 finished second in the LMP1 class and fifth overall at Saturday's Twelve Hours of Sebring. The car, driven by James Weaver, Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace, had less than two months of testing under its development belt. The Teutonic Juggernaut was not as invincible as the pre-race prognosticators forecasted. Only one of the two Audis finished and both Porsches were not running at the end.
The #16 entry faced no major problems during its half-day run around Sebring's 3.7 mile course. The most time consuming was when Leitzinger came in shortly after he got in the car for his first stint, three hours into the race. This was to repair a leaking brake line and bleed the rear brakes. This put the car down to thirteenth, its lowest position in the race. Four hours later, the car was up to fourth where it remained for the last third of race until a stop forty minutes from the end to replace the rear shocks dropped it down to sixth. Wallace ended up finishing fifth in a race James Weaver calls tougher then the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The # 20 car of Chris Dyson and Guy Smith ended up retiring seven and a half hours into the race with overheating problems after a competitive but eventful run. Guy Smith started the race and ran as high as third, but two punctures and software glitches dropped the car to thirty-first. Delighted with his car's race setup, the Briton had moved the car back up to eighth by the end of his double stint. Dyson took over and continued the team's progress, running as high as fifth overall before an electronics problem interrupted the second half of the American's double stint. Dyson handed the car back to Smith, but two hours were lost replacing a supply-side oil pump and repairing a fuel leak. Unfortunately, the car was retired forty minutes after returning to action with overheating caused by debris in the radiator.
It was a race of the unknowns. Of the first six cars starting the race, four had never turned a race lap and two had only one race to their credit. Dyson Racing now has a known quantity.
"I am so proud of our guys. No matter what problems the new cars threw at them, they rose to the challenge. We were lucky if we averaged four hours of sleep a night. It was a long week, but they still maintained their sense of humor. There is not stronger work ethic than what you find in racing and I will put our guys up against any team."
"It is amazing how well the team came together for this race. The car was so new and had quite a few problems and not much practice, but they got everything right for the race. We went into this with our eyes open, knowing the challenge we faced with a brand new car. But for the car to run as strong as it has gives everybody a positive boost for the season."
"It was a typical Sebring week - fighting and struggling with a number of minor problems, but in the end, we got some good points. The car behaved itself amazingly well during the race, no major dramas and acquitted itself quite well."
"It is disappointing that the #20 car did not score points this event: the car was the best it's been all weekend. But the whole program has to start somewhere and I am very pleased with my teammate, Guy Smith and how we worked together all week. I am sorry for the guys - they put in such an effort, but it is a building block for this year as we have learned an incredible amount these past six weeks. Congratulations to James, Butch and Andy for their great run."
"Little bit disappointed this weekend that we couldn't score any points. That was our aim for the week, but that is racing and in particular endurance racing. But all in all it has been positive. We know the car is good and it ran well through the race. It is fast. With the engine we have some good data and we know what we need to continue to improve on our performance."
"The car is actually very nice to drive; it really is a good car. Of course we knew coming into this race that it was very new and we have had our fair share of teething problems. But it was dead strong during the race. It has very good feel which is very important in a race car and I very much enjoy driving it."
"It would have been great if we had not had the overheating problems on the #20 car and the few minor problems on the #16. Dealing with a new package, you expect some more catastrophic things to happen, but the thing ran like a Swiss watch, and it was absolutely astounding how well we did."