WHAT A DAY: DYSONS FINISH 1-2, MAKE HISTORY AT AMERICAN LE MANS AT MID-OHIO Lexington, Ohio - There was a 1-2 finish at the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio on Sunday. But it wasn't who you might think. For the first time in the history of the ...
WHAT A DAY: DYSONS FINISH 1-2, MAKE HISTORY AT AMERICAN LE MANS AT MID-OHIO
Lexington, Ohio - There was a 1-2 finish at the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio on Sunday. But it wasn't who you might think. For the first time in the history of the American Le Mans Series, the Dyson Racing team took the top two spots on the podium as the No. 16 Lola EX 257 of James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger won for the first time in 2005.
On a day where both Champion Racing Audis uncharacteristically experienced trouble and the factory Zytek struggled in the pits, the two Dyson cars were nearly flawless. Weaver finished 26.32 seconds ahead of the No. 20 sister entry of Andy Wallace and Chris Dyson.
"The competition is so tough in the American Le Mans Series, and the cars are so competitive," said team owner Rob Dyson. "I think it came down to Butch and Chris doing so well at the start of the race. The team works so routinely hard and now we have the stamp that says we can beat the best."
That was just one of several developments in the third ALMS race of 2005. Johnny O'Connell and Ron Fellows won in GT1, and both now have an ALMS-best 23 career victories.
Also, the Mazda-powered No. 8 B-K Motorsports Courage of Jamie Bach and Guy Cosmo won in P2 for its first class victory. And the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche of Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas won in GT2, giving the famed car owner his first victory at Mid-Ohio.
But the story of the day was the Dyson effort. Weaver and Leitzinger ended the two-race win streak of Marco Werner and JJ Lehto in the No. 1 Champion Racing Audi. The Dyson duo last won at Mosport in 2004. Its first ALMS overall victory came in 2003 at Infineon in a P2 car, the first smaller prototype to win an overall title.
Leitzinger took the lead on the first lap when the No. 15 factory Zytek got a tap from Lehto. For most of the first half, the two Dysons and the Zytek swapped the first three positions before Weaver pulled away late.
"It was quiet difficult watching Butch on the TV," Weaver said. "The racing was absolutely stunning. The passing and moves he was making have to be some of the all time greatest. As I was going into the back stretch it was great to see Andy (Wallace) coming around and that we were running 1-2."
Fellows and O'Connell crossed the finish line second but were awarded the victory when the No. 4 sister car of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta were assessed a 20-second penalty on its final pit stop for a pit crew violation. The two Corvettes ran first-and-second most of the day, but the No. 63 ACEMCO Saleen S7R of Terry Borcheller and Johnny Mowlem showed marked improvement. The car led in class on more than one occasion and finished third.
"The No. 4 car had a fuel alarm go off and they called us in too," O'Connell said. "Our stop was faster, but because of the way they positioned their car we couldn't get out. We were close on fuel. We would have been out in another lap or two."
Added Fellows, "(The weather) was nasty. It kept threatening to rain. We knew we were going to have to come in and top off. The No. 4 blocked me and I couldn't get it out, but they had a penalty, which was too bad. Now we'll move on to France."
Bach and Cosmo won for the first time in their second ALMS race. After debuting with a second-place finish at the Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta, they posted a victory on a Mid-Ohio track where they have experienced a tremendous amount of success in Formula Mazda and Star Mazda cars. They also now share the driver's championship points lead with Jon Field and Clint Field of Telesis Intersport Racing.
"I'm thrilled with the win. We had a minor problem with the brakes but they held up," Bach said. "We made a lot of handling characteristics better since Atlanta that we love. When I was running in the Pro-Mazda series, Guy coached me on this track that it really helped this team out when we were setting up the car. We probably have over 15 combined wins at this track with all our experience in different series here."
Miracle Motorsports had led P2 class by a sizeable margin but was disqualified during the race when Jeff Bucknum went over the maximum time allotted by IMSA for a single driver.
"I take the entire blame," said team owner Michael Macaluso. "It was my fist time as team manger (Michael Gue doing the Grand-Am race this weekend), and I just wasn't paying attention. It's a real shame for the guys. They ran a great race and had had a great weekend."
Bernhard and Dumas started on the class pole and ended it that way. They received a fight from the No. 44 Flying Lizard Porsche and the No. 31 Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Porsche. But in the end, the duo gave AJR its first win of 2005 and 33rd victory in the ALMS.
"It was a tough fight to get past the No. 44 car," Dumas said. "I managed my tires and waited around. When it started to rain, I wasn't pushing and was just trying to finish the race. In Turn 3, there was a little rain inside the car. Lap after lap, it got heavier. When it arrived, it was seven minutes before the end."
The next ALMS race is the New England Grand Prix, set for July 4 at Lime Rock Park. Before that, however, many ALMS teams will head overseas for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in mid-June.