Sebring Test Strong For Dyson Team First Outing on Michelin Tires; Impressive Engine Durability POUGHKEEPSIE, NY, November 23, 2004 -- The Dyson Racing team last week conducted a two-car, three-day test at Florida's Sebring International Raceway.
Sebring Test Strong For Dyson Team
First Outing on Michelin Tires; Impressive Engine Durability
POUGHKEEPSIE, NY, November 23, 2004 -- The Dyson Racing team last week conducted a two-car, three-day test at Florida's Sebring International Raceway. The test, which included drivers Chris Dyson, Butch Leitzinger, Andy Wallace and James Weaver, focused on tires and engines. It was the team's initial opportunity to evaluate first-hand the performance of tires made by new technical partner Michelin.
Team owner Rob Dyson, whosampled one ofthe team'sLola-AER Le Mans prototypes for first time since a testing outing atLime Rock Park early in year, expressed satisfaction with the results of the test.
"The progress the team has made over the past season is very encouraging," Dyson said. "It's been good to have a chance to drive the car again, and the grip of the Michelin tires is just phenomenal. Our partnership with Michelin may prove to be the key to winning the American Le Mans Series championship in 2005."
This past season the Dyson team's pair of Thetford / Norcold Lolas were generally the fastest cars on the track, starting from the pole in six of the nine races on the schedule. But other than one persuasive victory at Canada's Mosport track, the Dyson team was beaten to the winner's circle every time by Champion Racing's Audi R8.
"Tires were the biggest factor, I think," Dyson continued. "The Audi's Michelins got up to optimum operating temperatures and grip levels in a half a lap, while it took our tires several laps to develop their maximum performance. On top of that, the Michelin tires maintained an impressive level of performance for many laps. In fact, the Audi was often able to run two the same set of tires for two loads of fuel. Given the ALMS rules that forbid changing tires while the car is being refueled, being able to run two stints on the same set of tires is a huge advantage. With the ALMS field getting more competitive, that's an advantage we're looking forward to sharing with the Champion team."
Wallace and Chris Dyson, who both sampled Michelin performance while racing in Europe this past season, echo and amplify Rob Dyson's statements. "The traction is unbelievable," said Wallace.
"Just put your foot on the throttle and the car launches off the corner. The Lola is an excellent car, as we well know. And from this test we now know for sure that it likes the Michelin tires. I think we've got a really strong combination for 2005."
The 2005 ALMS season begins March 16-19 with the running of the 12 Hours of Sebring, at the same site as the recent Dyson test. Based on the test, the Dyson team is more optimistic about its chances of capturing North American sportscar racing's biggest prize. Other than tires, the team's biggest technical concern during 2004 was engine reliability. Several times the team appeared well on its way to a race victory when engine woes brought one of the cars into the pits. That bugaboo appears to be solved; the #20 car of Chris Dyson and Wallace, ran the entire three-day test on the same engine it used in the 10-hour Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta in September.
"We took the engine out of the car at the end of the race, but it had no maintenance between then and the Sebring test last week," Dyson noted. "That particular engine now has over 1,800 miles on it without a hint of a problem. It just ran like a train. From a reliability standpoint, this is very encouraging."
Nothing would please team-owner Rob Dyson more than a win at Sebing. "On the way to nine team and driver championships, we've won at just about every road-racing track in North America," Dyson said.
"We've won the 24 Hours of Daytona overall two times. We did win the LMP675 category at Sebring in 2003, but we've never won at Sebring outright. For me personally, that's a goal I really want to achieve. I think the team will have its best shot ever next spring."