BRASELTON, GA, JUNE 29 — Thetford / Norcold Dyson Racing`s James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger finished fourth overall and first in LMP675 in today`s Chevy Grand Prix of Atlanta.
It was a day of mixed fortune, however, as the team had high hopes after James Weaver captured pole and led the early laps of the event in his AER MG-Lola machine. Running a competitive second overall, Weaver then handed off to Leitzinger after the first hour of the two-hour, forty-five minute affair. The Pennsylvanian set off in hot pursuit of the leaders and ran a hard stint, pitting for tires and fuel near the two hour mark. The team had trouble re-firing the #16 machine and lost more than a minute correcting the problem. By that point Leitzinger had slipped to fifth. He made up ground on the leaders, setting his fastest lap just minutes from the end of the event. Ultimately, however, he would have to settle for fourth overall behind the similar Lola of Intersport Racing`s Jon Field and Duncan Dayton.
“We have now seen that the car has come a long way, and we are now on par with the Audis,” Leitzinger said afterwards. “But in order to win we have got to cure these reliability problems. I am sure the team will straighten everything out.”
Andy Wallace and Chris Dyson endured a more eventful afternoon. The Englishman, second-quickest in Sunday`s morning warm-up, started fifth but found his sister #20 Dyson machine to be suffering from understeer immediately. He ran a steady sixth during his first stint before handing off to his junior teammate. Dyson took over the controls in seventh, several seconds adrift of the fifth and sixth placed machines. He quickly made up a good bit of the time before experiencing a misfire which forced him into the pits on three separate occasions. When the team finally identified and resolved the problem, Dyson drove to the end but had lost ground to the leading pack of prototypes. He and Wallace had to settle for a fifteenth-placed finish overall, third in LMP675.
“It is frustrating to have had a decent run cut short by mechanical gremlins,” Dyson said afterwards. “But I think that even though we did not get the result we wanted, we have proved that the Lola is finally quick enough to take the fight to the Audis in race trim. This is good for us and good for the (American Le Mans) series. Goodyear has done a fantastic job giving us a tire that works incredibly well over a stint, and that is critical to the races coming up over the next couple months. I am not hanging my head over this one, we still have much to look forward to.”
Team principal Rob Dyson was quick to praise his team`s efforts. “I am very proud of what we have been able to accomplish over the past few months,” he said. “We are not quite where we need to be yet, but it is great to be fighting again up front.”
The team now heads home to its Poughkeepsie, New York shop to ready the cars in time for its next American Le Mans Series event at Sears Point Raceway, on July 27.