MONTEREY, CA, SEPT. 22 — James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger drove their Thetford / Norcold MG-Lola EX257 to a runner-up finish in LMP675 in Sunday`s two-hour, forty-five minute American Le Mans Series event at Mazda Raceway.
James Weaver started the race and ran second for the bulk of his fifty-five minute first stint. “The car lacked grip in the first stint, so I was taking it easy and looking after the tires,” the English star said. “The track rubbered up later in the race and the car was much better.”
With Ron Fellows Corvette was stranded in a gravel trap before the race`s one hour mark, the Dyson team expected an immediate full-course yellow and called Weaver into the pits, where Leitzinger was standing by for a driver change. Unfortunately, the race stayed green for two more laps, allowing the leading Knighthawk MG to use a pace car waveby to stretch a two lap lead before driver Chad Block pitted for a driver change.
With Leitzinger at the controls, the #16 Thetford / Norcold machine hauled in Knighthawk`s Steve Knight at the rate of two to six seconds a lap. After an hour of green flag running, Leitzinger had overtaken the rival MG for the class lead and moved into eighth overall.
The Dyson team was aggressively charting its fuel consumption, and with a half-hour remaining Leitzinger pitted for fuel and James Weaver replaced him. The car`s clutch pedal had failed, and Weaver did well to return to the circuit on his own power, leaving in a cloud of turbo flame and Goodyear rubber. But the team had lost precious seconds in the pit lane and Knighthawk`s Claudia Huertgen had taken the lead. Try as he may, Weaver cut the German`s lead to 32 seconds, but he ran out of time at the end.
After the race, Leitzinger commented on the result: “We were struggling for grip today, but the team has made some big progress with the car. I am sorry we did not win our class but sometimes that is how it goes. I am looking forward to the rest of the year.”
The team`s next American Le Mans race is the Miami Grand Prix of the the Americas, on October 5.