By A.J. Morning, ALMS Reporter
- Dyson & Smith win from the pole
- BMW Team RLL takes the GT win
- GTC class win goes to TRG Porsche
- Genoa Racing claims LMPC win
Dyson Racing Wins at ‘Home Track’ in Exciting ALMS Return to Action
Yesterday’s clouds and damp conditions gave way to bright blue skies and sunshine for today’s American Le Mans Series Northeast Grand Prix, set in the picturesque backdrop of Lime Rock Park. Following the extended break after the Long Beach Grand Prix (for many teams to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans), Lime Rock effectively “re-starts” the ALMS season, as the first of seven remaining races in North America to determine the championships in America’s premier road racing series.
Our Mazda was fantastic from the start!
Series points leaders Chris Dyson and Guy Smith (#16 Dyson Racing Lola B09 86/Mazda) led from the pole and seldom surrendered the lead, in the face of a strong challenge from the #6 Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing/Lola coupe, driven by Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf. Through 2 hours and 46 minutes of racing, often slowed by caution flags, the racing remained tight on the 1.53-mile course – the smallest one visited by the series. In the end, it was the G-Oil sponsored Dyson team, winning for the first time at a circuit considered the “home” track to the Dyson family.
Team owner Rob Dyson was overjoyed: “It was a huge win for us … Chris did (an) awesome job in qualifying and is going to have a great future in ALMS.” Driver (and son) Chris Dyson was no less enthusiastic: “It was great fun. Lucas and I were going back and forth from the get go. It was all about where you position yourself. It felt a bit like a video game. Our Mazda was fantastic from the start!”
Guy Smith, Dyson’s teammate who finished the race and took the checkers, added, “this is a great win for Dyson racing. Everyone worked extremely hard over the rest period. We’ve learned a lot.”
While LMP1 featured but three cars, nearly half of the 31-car starting grid was composed of GT class. Among the most hotly-contested classes of any series, today’s race at the “Bull Ring” was a great day for some, and a setback for others.
BMW Team RLL’s Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller, driving the #56 M3 GT, were the class of the field right from the start.
Only 20 minutes into the race, a chain-reaction crash collected the #02 Ferrari 458, #55 BMW, and both the #3 and #4 Corvette ZR1 cars. Extended time in the pits to clean up the damage to these entries, meant that the race for GT supremacy would pit Hand and Mueller against the #45 Flying Lizard Porsche of Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long.
In a duel that went nearly to the last lap, Hand was able to keep the BMW on top and take the checkers with a 20-second victory.
Following the champagne spray on the Podium, co-driver Mueller had praise for the team: “Winning is always very sweet and very important and its good to collect the points. Everything is now coming together like it is supposed to. I think we turned three screws on the car before we started the race. The break (for Le Mans) was massive but we tested in between. At the level we are racing, it has changed so dramatically.”
Hand agreed, and expanded on the technical aspects, noting “Team RLL, BMW, Dunlop, have done a very nice job. The things we have now have made the car more comfortable and more in the zone. That’s how you win races. That’s a real key and real testament to BMW RLL BMW Motorsport. Dunlop is really stepping up. They have a very consistent tire now.”
In the GT-Challenge class, first-timer Dion von Moltke ((#68-GTC Porsche 911 GT3 Cup) took top honors with co-driver Mike Piera. Von Moltke said after taking the checkers, “that was the craziest race I’ve ever done. With two hours left we were a lap down but kept fighting to the lead lap… It was a qualifying run that lasted an hour and 45 minutes.” Piera added, “I knew (Dion) was quicker than the second-place car, and then the second-place car got loose and Dion went by. I almost collapsed and was so happy to have second. I didn’t think we had a chance at first and I couldn’t even watch to see if we would win.”
Elton Julian and Eric Lux took the LMP-Challenge win in their class-spec #63-LMPC Oreca FLM09. Lux said of his first series win, “Elton did a fantastic job putting it out front. Genoa gave us such a fantastic car. It’s nice to have the first career win in the ALMS to go with the other ones in my career. For the most part, everyone was pretty polite driving-wise. There are a one or two cars you learn to give a little more room. But overall everyone was pretty nice around us.”
The next stop for the American Le Mans Series will be the Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport, in Bowmanville, Ontario, in two weeks.