POUGHKEEPSIE, NY, NOV. 4 — This weekend`s Rolex Series finale at Daytona marks an end of an era for the Dyson Racing team as it gives its Riley and Scott mk3-Fords their last competitive outing.
Over the past eight years running the venerable Mk3, the team has won a category-leading 36 races, including three victories at the 24 Hours of Daytona (twice overall) and three wins in the Watkins Glen Six Hours. The only race which stymied the Dyson R&S juggernaut was Sebring, where the team finished second– by two of the closest margins on record– in 1997 and 1999.
The R&S also carried James Weaver, Butch Leitzinger and Elliott Forbes-Robinson to drivers championships. From 1997 to 2001, between them Dyson drivers scored six drivers titles.
The car proved to be the most versitile of a balkanized period of sportscar racing, when sanctioning bodies changed names and the cars designations differed from year to year. But whether it raced as an IMSA World SportsCar, a USRRC Can-Am spyder, a Le Mans Prototype or a Grand-Am SportsRacer (or SportsRacer Prototype), Dyson R&S`s would likely be at the head of the field.
There may never be a glossy book to celebrate the R&S mk3`s history, but the car can probably best be remembered as the bane of the Ferrari`s 333 sp program`s existence. Ferrari drivers and teams enjoyed terrific scraps with Dyson R&S cars over the years, particularly from 1995 to 1999. The R&S cars provided color and diversity to sportscar grids, and gave potential owners a viable alternative to Maranello`s million-dollar machines– which they were beating with regularity.
Rob Dyson, who commissioned the first R&S mk3, has many fond memories of the car. “I saw what Ferrari had to offer, but the Riley suited our team so much more,” Dyson said. “We would have control of our engines and we could do development work freely. Plus I think we brought back the historic Ford-Ferrari rivalry by running these cars. We had so many great races with these cars. In a way it is sad to see them go because they are just such wonderful cars, and so easy to work on and maintain. But times have moved on, and eight years is an exceptional time period to have a competitive car.”
James Weaver, who has won more races than anyone in Dyson R&S machines, is also complimentary of the car he affectionately dubs the “snotter.” “Bob Riley has never been given the credit he deserves with this car,” Weaver said. “It is a wonderful car with so much downforce. When it had 700 horsepower it was really incredible. There was nothing like fighting with those Ferraris all those years. It is a special car. It fits right up there alongside the Porsche 962 and the Ferrari 333sp in the annals of history.7quot
Chris Dyson enjoyed his first season of prototype racing in the mk3`s last, scoring three victories with James Weaver. 7quotI always liked these cars, and it was the perfect car for me to hone my skills this year. To watch our guys racing all those years, I saw so many fantastic races. It is hard to believe the era is over, but we have got lots to look forward to, and we move on.”
The November 10 Daytona Finale will be televised live on the Speed Channel at 1 PM EST.