SEBRING, FL, MAR. 17 — After running fifth overall for most of the 49th running of the Sebring 12 Hours, Dyson Racing drivers James Weaver, Butch Leitzinger, and Elliott Forbes-Robinson were forced to withdraw with engine overheating problems as the race neared its 8-hour mark. The Anglo-American trio, who had started seventh, had made steady progress with their new Riley and Scott Mk3C Lincoln and were the only non-Audi LMP team to maintain contact with the winning Audi R8 quartet. Until the Dyson car`s untimely retirement, the team had managed to sustain a deficit to the leaders ranging from 5 to 8 laps.
Leitzinger drove the first stint of the afternoon and ran as high as sixth before handing off to E.F.R., who then passed the reigns to Weaver. The team, who had worked exhaustively over the proceeding ten days to ready the car in time, made shock absorber adjustments and changed Goodyear tire compounds throughout the event to improve their mount`s handling. The R&S`s roadhandling improved and Weaver was able to set the team`s fastest lap, a 1:53.65, midway through his first stint. Encouragingly, the Englishman`s time was only a tenth of a second slower than Leitzinger`s qualifying time set on Thursday afternoon.
In a race notable for its steamy temperatures, the team`s Sebring run was relatively uneventful. Other than problems with the oil cooling system during Leitzinger`s first stint, the car ran flawlessly until its retirement. The team`s efficient pit service enabled its stars to stay in contact with the leaders, and the event ran caution-free for the first time since 1994.
After the race, James Weaver looked at the team`s result in a positive light. “I think the team did a very good job and worked very hard to make the car right. We have still got a ways to go with this new car but Rob is confident that we will make it work.”
Leitzinger agreed. “The car is a step forward from the Mk3 and we will make it work, it will just take some testing and development,” said the Pennsylvanian.
Rob Dyson, who watched the event from the pits and from different vantage points around the track, praised his team and discussed the merits of the new chassis. “Our guys did a phenomenal job getting the car done, and I am very proud of them, as always. It was great to be back at Sebring, we love this event. But we have got some work to do now, and I look forward to working closely with Riley and Scott to pushing the new design further. I think the basic package,with the old car`s suspension and a new gearbox and better aero, has all the ingredients for success.”
The Dyson team will be taking a much-needed break for a few days, before preparations begin for the next planned event, the Rolex Series Sun Automotive 200 Phoenix, in a month`s time.