SONOMA, CA, JULY 18, 2004 — Newly repaved, the challenging Infineon Raceway proved unkind to Dyson Racing’s pair of Thetford / Norcold Lolas in today’s American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Sonoma. Chris Dyson and Andy Wallace finished second, less than a lap behind the winning Audi R8 of JJ Lehto and Marco Werner. Dyson teammates and defending race winners James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger finished third.
“We just weren’t quick enough for them today,” said Wallace, as he climbed from his car following the event. All four of the Dyson drivers noted that they experienced significant understeer during the course of the race.
Early in the race Leitzinger’s Lola was able to match the pace of Werner’s pole-winning Audi, trailing him by just a few seconds for the first 30 minutes of the two-hour, forty-five-minute race. “Butch put quite a lot of pressure on me,” Werner said. “He was very good under braking.”
The #16’s bid for victory ended when the engine developed an intermittent misfire. The problem was solved by replacing the engine control unit and the set of four ignition coils. But by then Leitzinger had dropped four laps off the pace and returned to the track in 19th place. With Dyson and Wallace’s #20 troubled by understeer and unable to mount a serious challenge to the Audi, most of the excitement remaining in the race came from Leitzinger and Weaver’s charge through the field, making up one of the lost laps and finally finishing third overall.
“In practice and qualifying our cars were very competitive, and we were pretty optimistic about our chances,” said Chris Dyson. “But during the race the track was actually quite slippery for us. Of course everyone was running on the same pavement. We just didn’t seem to get the most out of our cars today.”