More Sport at Mosport Dyson Racing Looks to Avenge 2003 Loss POUGHKEEPSIE, NY, August 5, 2004 - If the Dyson Racing drivers didn't love Mosport so much, the results of the 2003 American Le Mans Series race would have made them hate the...
More Sport at Mosport
Dyson Racing Looks to Avenge 2003 Loss
POUGHKEEPSIE, NY, August 5, 2004 - If the Dyson Racing drivers didn't love Mosport so much, the results of the 2003 American Le Mans Series race would have made them hate the classic Canadian road-racing circuit. At the race a year ago the two blue-and-white Thetford / Norcold Lolas swept the front row in qualifying - and then watched a crash in the race warm-up and an electrical failure during the race put paid to what should have been a convincing overall win.
Andy Wallace, pole-winner at the most recent 2004 ALMS race in Portland, Oregon, two weeks ago, was last year's outside front-row qualifier at Mosport in the #20 Dyson Lola. On the morning of the Canadian race last summer he had a small crash that led to a giant thrash as the Dyson crew struggled to repair the car in time for the start of the race. And they almost made it. But time ran out, and Wallace's teammate, Chris Dyson, was forced to take the green flag from pit lane, and join the race dead last.
Which meant that the Dyson cars were bracketing the field, at least for the first lap. James Weaver had qualified the #16 Thetford / Norcold car on the pole, and as Dyson was carving through the field from behind, Weaver was steaming away from it at the front.
"I was looking forward to starting on the front row," Dyson said. "But in some ways it was kind of fun playing catch-up. The car was excellent that day, and our Goodyear tires were clearly up to the task. Mosport has a lot of fast corners, and the Lola really excels in those. I figured that James and Butch (Leitzinger, Weaver's co-driver) pretty much had it handled."
"The car was blinding here last year," Weaver said. "All weekend we had a clear advantage on the Audis. When I turned over the car to Butch in the race, I figured we were styling."
So did Leitzinger, at least for the first three laps, before the Lola's experimental "starternator" began to fail. The single unit, which combined starter motor and alternator, in theory provided a significant weight saving. But it ultimately was an experiment that failed. And it did so spectacularly at Mosport. In the race, as the #16 car's voltage reading began to drop off, and Leitzinger was forced into the pits, where the team disconnected the electrically-operated power steering and the electronic dashboard. The car had trouble re-starting, although Leitzinger eventually rejoined the race. But the car's voltage continued to decline, causing the car to lose power, and eventually the #16 car had to be retired.
Randall Kelsey, who only a month before had been promoted to Team Manager, viewed last year's race as an especially bitter result. "It's not uncommon for teams to list the reason for withdrawal as 'electrical failure' when there's been a lot more serious problem. But in this case it really was an electrical problem, and we pulled the car in before complications from the low voltage could have led to a catastrophic engine failure. It was a shame to watch James and Butch's car, which had been so strong all weekend, have to retire that way. But that result only convinced us that we had a fundamental problem that needed to be addressed, and we're all happy to see that component removed for this year's race."
It's not like the Dyson team doesn't know how to win at Mosport. The circuit, which is located an hour east of Toronto, was the scene of prototype sportscar victories for the team in 1995, '96 and '98. "We've won the pole in three of the last four races this year," Kelsey noted. "It's almost as if Mosport last year set the pattern for the first half of this year. We're fastest in qualifying, but then a minor mechanical problem keeps us from winning. I think Mosport would be a great place to begin a new story - one that ends with our drivers on the highest step of the winners' circle podium."