DAYTONA BEACH, FL, NOV. 3 — Thetford / Norcold Dyson Racing drivers James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger claimed their sixth Rolex Series win of 2001 in the three-hour Rolex Grand-Am Finale at Daytona. It was an immaculate performance by the Anglo-American duo, and helped Weaver clinch his second consecutive Grand-Am title. The pairing`s #16 car`s win also enabled the Dyson team to collect top honors in the series Team Championship for the second season in a row.
Team owner-driver, Rob Dyson, who shared in a fifth place finish with co-drivers Elliott Forbes-Robinson and Chris Dyson, was delighted with the result. “I am really pleased for the team. James did a fantastic job all year, from winning the pole for the 24 Hours (in February) to this win. It was a busy season, but when the chips are down, James always delivers. The team championship means just as much. Pat Smith is the best there is, and the boys just dig a little deeper every year. Everyone — from Ben Lozano to Goodyear and all of our suppliers to Thetford and Norcold — deserves credit for this championship. This result puts us in a positive frame of mind as we go into 2002.”
Just as most Grand-Am events have come down to the line this year, the Daytona Finale proved to be another dogfight. This time, the Dyson team met its stiffest opposition in the form of none other than Dyson irregular Andy Wallace. Driving the Champion Lola Porsche, Wallace and Butch Leitzinger raced hard after a late-race yellow, and the Pennsylvanian managed to sneak by an instant before the course returned to caution. When the race re-started, Leitzinger stretched his lead, and enjoyed a 13.9 second cushion by time the checkered flag flew.
Asked about his championship, Weaver was upbeat. “I am delighted. The old girl (the team`s Riley and Scott mk3-Ford, now in its seventh season of competition) is just a fantastic car, and on balance it is still the best car to have around a place like Daytona. It has been a great season, I have really enjoyed myself. We are looking forward to next season.”
The sister #20 Riley and Scott Ford of EFR, Chris Dyson and Rob Dyson finished fifth overall, and fourth in the SRP-1 division. The group was treating the event as a preparation run for next February`s Daytona 24 Hours. Looking to get more time in the car, Chris Dyson drove two stints during the race and said that “it was a great learning experience for me. I made a few mistakes, but we accomplished what we set out to do.”
The Dyson Racing team faces an eight week gap in its schedule in the run-up to the Test Days for the 2002 Daytona 24 Hours in January.