BRASELTON, Ga. - The Dyson Racing Team has set its driver lineup for the 2004 season as it prepares for a two-car campaign in the LMP1 class of the American Le Mans Series. Based in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., the Dyson team has been one of the most ...
BRASELTON, Ga. - The Dyson Racing Team has set its driver lineup for the 2004 season as it prepares for a two-car campaign in the LMP1 class of the American Le Mans Series. Based in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., the Dyson team has been one of the most successful American-based professional sports car racing teams of the past 20 years.
The season begins with the 52nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway Mar. 17-20.
The Rob Dyson-owned team won the Team championship in the LMP 675 class of the American Le Mans Series in 2003 and Chris Dyson won the LMP 675 Driver championship. The team made history when it scored the overall win in the ALMS event held at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., last July and became the first to win a race overall with a car from the smaller Prototype class. Dyson cars also scored five other class wins during the season.
For 2004, Dyson Racing's two Lola EX257-AER/MG Prototypes will compete in the LMP1 class due to restructuring of the four classes of competition in the ALMS. The LMP1 class includes cars that had been in the LMP 900 class as well as the more sophisticated cars from what had been the LMP 675 class.
The four drivers who will contest the entire American Le Mans Series schedule for Dyson racing will be the same four who drove the full season last year: Chris Dyson, Butch Leitzinger, Andy Wallace and James Weaver.
Weaver, from England, will be in his 18th season with Dyson Racing in 2004. The 48-year-old Weaver will spearhead the Dyson effort and will co-drive with Leitzinger in the #16 Dyson entry. The two drove to the Infineon Raceway win last year. In addition to being one of sports car racing's most talented racing, testing and development drivers, Weaver is also a popular and humorous figure outside of the car.
"James is phenomenal," Rob Dyson said. "He's been one of the primary factors in our success, and he shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. When he steps into the car, everyone else out there knows they're going to have a fight on their hands. James is willing to put in more hours than most drivers getting the car right, and that's what separates him from most everyone else. Between him and Butch (Leitzinger) and Andy (Wallace) and Chris (Dyson), we have an incredibly strong lineup going into 2004." "I think Rob must have the patience of Job," Weaver said. "We've had a tremendous amount of fun with our racing. We are given all the tools to get the job done and the team responds. Rob is just a wonderful enthusiast who loves this sport. I looked around the other day at the Sebring test and saw how much fun everyone was having, and it's very special. I'm really excited for this season ahead."
Leitzinger, 34, from State College, Penn., will be in his 10th season with Dyson Racing. He has two driving titles and more than 25 overall race wins to his credit, making him one of North America's most successful sports car racers.
"I think that there has never been a more exciting time at Dyson Racing," Leitzinger said. "The level of development that has been put into the Lola, and the results that we are seeing from that, have made us a serious threat at every race, as well as for the championship. We have shown that we have the speed to win races, and I'm confident that we have addressed the issues that have affected our reliability. James, Andy, Chris, and I will be giving it everything that we have to reward all of the team's hard work."
Wallace, 42, from England, will partner with 25-year-old Chris Dyson in the #20 Dyson entry in the "sprint" races on the ALMS schedule and will drive the #16 with Weaver and Leitzinger in longer races such as the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Wallace and Dyson took three LMP 675 class wins together last year, while Dyson took the class win at Sebring with two other drivers, giving him four wins en route to the LMP 675 driving title.
The team spent three days this week testing at Sebring in preparation for the upcoming season.
"We were pretty happy with the amount of work we were able to get done," said Chris Dyson. "James tried some new tires which have given us a good direction for the race, and AER has made some pretty impressive gains with their electronics and engine performance. We proved last year that the cars are quick enough and can win races, and this winter we have been eliminating all of the reliability issues that occasionally nagged us. I'm very enthusiastic about this coming season."
The 52nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will get the green flag at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 20, and will be televised live from flag-to-flag by the Speed Channel. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com.
Ticket information is available online at www.sebringraceway.com or by calling (863) 655-1442 (toll-free 800-626-RACE).