ELKHART LAKE, WI, AUG. 24 — Thetford / Norcold Dyson Racing`s Chris Dyson and Andy Wallace took their second-consecutive runner-up finish in Sunday`s Road America 500.
The Anglo-American pairing, who finished second after starting from the rear at Mosport a week ago, had to duplicate the feat at Road America after their #20 MG-Lola EX257 had problems starting before the race. Chris Dyson drove the first stint and worked his way up from 36th position to second overall at the end of the first hour. He handed the car to Andy Wallace, who briefly fell back to third before regaining the position from Panoz`s David Saelens. Wallace drove for an hour and a half, and his solid effort yielded his second LMP675 victory of 2003, and Dyson`s third. Dyson now leads Jon Field by 23 points in the drivers` championship.
“What a great finish for us today,” Chris Dyson said afterwards. “I told the guys that we have to stop with this start from the back business, but you can not argue with the result. I did not like the car`s balance on full tanks, but I was really concentrating on moving up through the field and keeping my nose clean after the starter problem. Once the car burned off some fuel, it came to life and I could push. I knew we were making progress, but I could not believe it when (Team Manager) Randall (Kelsey) came on the radio and said “P2 Overall.” This was an important finish for the championship, and I am happy for the guys.
Wallace was delighted. “I am just so happy for the guys on the team,” he said. “Chris and I were leaning on them all weekend to improve the car and in the race, the car and the Goodyear tires were perfect.”
Butch Leitzinger and James Weaver had a short day after convincingly leading the first six laps of the event. Leitzinger had set the early pace but he was hit from behind by a Panoz LMP at turn 5 which spun him into the wall, and ended the #16 car`s day prematurely.
“It is too bad, because I really think our car was good today,” James Weaver said afterwards. “Thankfully Butch is okay, and the car`s damage is not extensive.”
The team returns to its Poughkeepsie, NY shop this week to prepare the cars for the upcoming September 7 American Le Mans Series race at Mazda Raceway.