ALTON, Va. -- The Dyson Racing duo of Andy Wallace and Chris Dyson capitalized on two uncharacteristic mistakes by Doran Racing's Mauro Baldi to win the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series VIR 500 - the first professional sports car race at Virginia...
ALTON, Va. -- The Dyson Racing duo of Andy Wallace and Chris Dyson capitalized on two uncharacteristic mistakes by Doran Racing's Mauro Baldi to win the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series VIR 500 - the first professional sports car race at Virginia International Raceway in more than 30 years.
"I'm delighted with the result," said Dyson, who inched close to Didier Theys in the points standings with his fourth win of the season. "And the fact that it helps me out in the points chase is even better."
Ironically, with just two more races remaining in the open-cockpit prototype era, today's win was also the first for the two-year-old Crawford chassis.
"It's very, very gratifying to finally win one," explained Max Crawford, designer of the race-winning chassis. "We've put a lot of work into this car."
"I'm very happy Max and all of the people at Crawford who have put so much time and money into this deal," stated Wallace after his first win of the year. "It's a pleasure to drive with Chris. This guy's going to be superb when he gets older. And then I will have to retire."
Wallace and Dyson took the checkered flag a little more than 25 seconds ahead of the No. 27 Doran Racing Judd-powered Dallara of Baldi and Theys, which appeared to be well on its way to an easy victory until Baldi slid of the course on lap 85, making light contact with the Turn-4 wall. Although Baldi managed to retain the lead, quick work by the Dyson Racing crew during the next round of pit stops enabled Wallace to make up the lap Dyson had lost to Theys earlier in the race. Then Baldi spun again seven laps later, allowing Wallace to take the lead when the diminutive Italian pitted for fuel, oil, tires, and a new nose on lap 107. Once Wallace made his own stop, the two sports car veterans raced nose-to-tail until Baldi had to pit again on lap 121. And when Baldi had to stop one more time five laps later, Wallace opened up a lead that Theys, who had taken over during the last pit stop, could not overcome.
The No. 8 Rand Racing SRPII Nissan Lolas of Terry Borcheller and Anthony Lazzaro finished third overall and first in SRPII, followed by the No. 7 entry of Ralf Kelleners, Niclas Jonsson, and Marion Franchitti.
In the GT class, the No. 33 Ferrari 360 GT of Bill Auberlen and Cort Wagner overcame a couple of off-course excursions to take class honors for the fourth consecutive race this year.
Kerry Hitt, Doug Mills, and Owen Trinkler won the AGT class in their ACP Motorsports Corvette.
Today's race was a long time coming for a track that was held its first sports car race -- a Sports Car Club of America event for small-bore production cars - in 1957. Twenty-four years later, VIR played host to the very first International Motorsports Association race, ushering in the beginning of the modern era of professional sports car racing in the United States. During the early years, a number of the world's most renowned drivers lapped the scenic, southern Virginia circuit, including Dan Gurney, Roger Penske, Parnelli Jones, Skip Barber, Peter Gregg, and Richard Atwood. At the end of 1974, however, VIR was forced to shut down due to financial difficulties.
For the next 25 years the track lay dormant, and it looked as if sports car racing at VIR had met an unceremonious end. But in 1999 New York-based real estate developer and sports car enthusiast Harvey Siegel purchased the track. Siegel, with the help of Connie Lee Nyholm, rebuilt the track in an attempt to foster the return of top-level road racing to the secluded, tree-lined facility. After the necessary repairs had been completed, the roar of race engines returned to VIR in 2000 when it hosted several amateur sports car events.
The Rolex Sports Car Series will take to the track again in two weeks at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant.