Teams2010 American Le Mans Series By Jeremy McMullen
Dyson Racing started as the result of a dream lost in the mystique of the Indianapolis 500 and Formula One. Inspired by the men and machines of Formula One that raced at the picturesque Watkins Glen circuit, Rob Dyson, a Cornell graduate, thought to himself, 'it would be neat to run Watkins Glen, to race the same track that the Formula One guys race on.' In 1974, Dyson would only begin to fulfill his dreams as he would compete in an SCCA regional race at Watkins Glen and would win in his very first race. From that victorious first race, Dyson Racing was born.
By 2010, Dyson Racing had become a regular in sportscar and prototype racing. During the mid-1980s, Dyson Racing was a force in the IMSA GTP series. However, it started out with nothing but hopes and dreams once again. Pivotal victories helped its GTP program takeoff. The team would be second in the championship in 1987 and would manage to win the Porsche Cup three years in a row.
When the American Le Mans Series began around the turn of the new century, Dyson Racing was there. After a partial season in 2002, Dyson Racing was back full-time in the American Le Mans Series in 2003 driving Lola EX257s.
After a brief stint back with Porsche, and their RS Spyders, Dyson Racing returned to a Lola chassis with its new partnership with MAZDASPEED Motorsports in 2009. In addition to its partnership with MazdaSpeed Motorsports, Dyson switched to Dunlop as its tire supplier. Coming into the 2010 season, all of the elements forged heading into the 2009 season remained in place. The team would have a new challenge for the season, however. Dyson Racing, with its AER developed Mazda engine would run on isobutanol fuel throughout the season.
In 2008, Lola had designed and began building a coupe model prototype for the LMP2 category. In 2009, the Lola B08/80 would end up coming in 2nd in LMP2 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It would also go on to 2nd through 4th in the Le Mans Series Championship standings. Though dominated by Lowe's Fernandez Racing, Dyson Racing would come in 2nd in the LMP2 standings with the updated B09/86 chassis. With this kind of success in its short lineage, Lola's coupe formed a great basis for Dyson Racing's attack on the American Le Mans Series Championship in 2010.
2010 was going to be more of a challenging season than what 2009 had been. The series organizers decided that for all of the American Le Mans Series rounds the two prototype categories would be lumped together in just one class. This meant the LMP2 Lola coupe, with its 4-cylinder turbocharged Mazda AER engine, would have to challenge other competitors such as Drayson racing with its LMP1 Lola coupe and 10-cylinder Judd engine and Intersport Racing with its open-cockpit Lola B06/10 chassis and V8 turbocharged AER engine.
In spite of the challenges Dyson Racing would have to face within the American Le Mans Series Championship, the first race of the season would include some of the best prototypes from all-over the world.
The first round of the American Le Mans Series would also include some of the top teams from around the world. The first round was the 12 Hours of Sebring. This was the 58th 12 Hour race of Sebring and was held on the 20th of March.
Sebring was one of two races in which the LMP categories would remain split for 2010. Whether fortunate or not, Dyson Racing would end up in LMP2 with its Lola B09/86 chassis and turbocharged 4-cylinder Mazda AER engine. Other teams, such as Drayson Racing, Intersport Racing and Autocon Motorsports would end up having to face the might of the diesel-powered Peugeot 908s of Team Peugeot Total and the V12-powered Lola-Aston Martins.
LMP2 would be no Sunday drive for Dyson Racing, however. The team would have to face Patron Highcroft Racing and Muscle Milk Team Cytosport. In 2009, Highcroft Racing and de Ferran Racing were running the ARX-02a chassis and were virtually unbeatable in the category. In 2010, Highcroft Racing decided it would race with the ARX-01c. Even though this was technically an LMP2 chassis like Dyson Racing's Lola, it had proven dominant as it was the same chassis used by Lowe's Fernandez Racing to take the LMP2 honors in 2009.
Though aging, the venerable Porsche RS Spyder; with its 3.4-liter V8 Porsche engine, would be the mount of choice for Muscle Milk Team Cytosport. There was an important connection between Dyson Racing and Muscle Milk Team Cytosport. Throughout 2009, and going into 2010, Dyson Racing would be virtually competing against itself. This was due to the fact Team Cytosport had purchased Dyson Racing Porsche RS Spyder. Should Muscle Milk Team Cytosport out-duel Dyson Racing, Dyson would only have themselves to blame.
The 12 Hours of Sebring takes place on what is now an unused portion of an was Hendricks Field, which was a training base for the Army Air Force during World War II. The course is 3.7 miles in length and features some fast straights and sweeping corners, as well as a couple of slower points that are great places for passing. Characterized by its incredibly bumpy concrete layout, the 12 Hours of Sebring isn't just a normal endurance test for the cars and drivers. It is a tortuous event that does its best to shake the car and driver apart.
Dyson Racing arrived at the long endurance test with its Mazda-powered Lolas adorned in a white and green livery and with its three drivers Chris Dyson and two British drivers: Guy Smith and Andy Meyrick.
Following in his father's footsteps, but taking the dream even further, Chris Dyson is the Vice President and Sporting Director of Dyson Racing and was the prominent proponent of the partnership with Mazda.
Guy Smith's ability as a rather is without question. The winner of numerous championships and races, Smith has been a champion in just about every racing series he has even taken part in. This he would prove when, in 2003, he co-drove with Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen and scored an overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Similar to Smith, Andy Meyrick has proven successful from the moment he has put his hand on any car. Early successes were humbled by some difficult stretches. Then, in 2008, Meyrick took part in the British F3 series and scored an incredible 7 wins and 10 pole positions and was named a BRDC Rising Star. In 2009, Andy went to drive for Kolles Racing in their privately entered Audi R10. He would provide the team the best result of the season at the Nurburgring. Because of the experience gained with Kolles, Meyrick was approached by Dyson Racing. He provides Dyson Racing another young and talented driver to surround Chris Dyson.
The impressive driver lineup behind the wheel of the Lola-Mazda was proving to be quite quick during practice. Throughout each of the practice sessions in which Dyson Racing took part, the car ran amongst the top-two or three. Guy Smith would end up turning in the best lap in the car with a lap around the 3.7 mile facility in one minute and forty-nine seconds.
Guy Smith would be given the task of putting Dyson Racing on the starting grid in the best position possible. Right out of the gate he would be doing his best. By his second lap around during qualifying he would turn in a lap of one minute and forty-eight seconds. But it was just the start of qualifying. Just a little later, Smith would lower his best time to one minute, forty-seven seconds and eight tenths. Unfortunately, he would just be clipped by Highcroft and Muscle Milk Team Cytosport.
Marino Franchitti would turn in the fastest lap amongst the LMP2 class. His HPD ARX-01c would lap the circuit also with a time of one minute and forty-seven seconds, but only of six tenths. Only Five hundredths of a second separated Franchitti's best time and that of Klaus Graf in the Porsche RS Spyder. Guy Smith's best was almost exactly just two tenths slower than Franchitti. This put Dyson Racing on the grid in 7th overall.
Going into the fast, sweeping turn one left-hander, Chris Dyson was able to get by the Muscle Milk Porsche for 6th overall and 2nd in LMP2. Dyson would remain in 2nd behind Simon Pagenaud in the Highcroft entry throughout the first fifteen minutes of the race. Suddenly, Muscle Milk would get the position back from Dyson. Dyson would then bring the Lola-Mazda down the pitlane. This was only twenty minutes into the race, and therefore, definitely unscheduled. Dyson wouldn't just stop at the pit box. He would end up just pulling around and into the paddock. The car had real problems.
The crew went to work trying to find out the source of its troubles. A little over an hour later, the car re-emerged from the paddock and rejoined the race. It was found that a faulty sensor was causing the electrical trouble and misfire in the engine Dyson faced in the very early going. When Dyson rejoined the race, the team was still in 3rd in LMP2 (there were only three competitors in the class), but the team was some 27 laps down.
Once back up to speed after the electrical troubles, the number 16 Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda began running fast and without issue. Chris Dyson, explaining the team's troubles, would state: 'We lost about an hour but the car is running like a train now.' This was true. In spite of being 44 laps down to the overall leader and 39 laps down to its old Porsche RS Spyder in 2nd place in LMP2, the Dyson Racing team had managed to complete two hours of racing without incident and were looking forward to a strong final eight hours.
Not all would be smooth sailing for Dyson after its earlier troubles. Almost halfway through the race, Smith would come in for a pit stop but would have to wait an extra twenty seconds for having too many men working on the car. Being over 50 laps down by this point, the penalty was rather moot in the team's eyes.
Were it not for the troubles early on, Dyson Racing could have been challenging the rest of the LMP2 competitors as the car and the engine continued to carry on without incident through seven hours worth of racing. Had the team not suffered the troubles it could have been in a strong position to pounce later in the race. Marino Franchitti began to have smoking issues from inside the cockpit. It would take the team over twenty minutes to find the problem and rectify the situation. Highcroft Racing had led throughout the first 9 hours of the race. It had a number of laps in hand over Muscle Milk Team Cytosport. Now, all of that was gone. Most unfortunate for Dyson Racing was the fact it could do nothing to improve its position, and, it was their old Porsche RS Spyder now leading the race in LMP2.
Guy Smith took over to complete the final hour and forty-five minutes of racing. Not being in contention for any higher position, unless one of the competitors had real trouble, Smith would focus on just lapping the course as fast, and as safe, as possible.
With one hour remaining in the race, Guy Smith was 60 laps down to the overall leader and 42 laps behind David Brabham, who was running in 2nd place in LMP2. Sascha Maassen was behind the wheel of the Porsche Spyder and was a further five laps up.
One lap remained in the race. All Chris Dyson needed to do was bring the car around to the finish. The team, by virtue of no other competition, would definitely finish 3rd. More importantly, all of the team's hard work would payout some nice points toward the American Le Mans Series Championship.
Alex Wurz, in the number 07 Team Peugeot 908 would take the overall victory. Muscle Milk Team Cytosport would finish 4th overall and 1st in LMP2, coming in 14 laps behind the overall leader. The late troubles for Highcroft Racing would drop it from the win to 2nd in LMP2 and 5th overall. Chris Dyson would hold onto the car through the course of the final lap and would bring the Dyson Racing entry home 21st overall and 3rd in LMP2. The team would end up 64 laps down to the overall leader.
In spite of the heart-wrenching electrical issues that cost the team an hour in the paddock, the team would earn 23 points toward the ALMS Championship and would be in 4th position after the race. This would serve as a nice reward for the team after all of its hard work to rectify its troubles and to have over ten hours of trouble-free running.
It would be almost a month before Dyson Racing would get ready to take part in an American Le Mans Series race. After the 12 Hours of Sebring in Florida, the series travelled all the way across the country to Long Beach, California.
The second round of the ALMS Championship was the American Le Mans Series at Long Beach race. This would be the first race in which the two prototype categories would be all thrown into one category. The ALMS prototypes would have a strong competitor in which it would have to face.
In 2009, Adrian Fernandez had raced his own LMP2 team, the Lowe's Fernandez Racing team. It had been absolutely dominant in the LMP2 category winning the championship in the category. In 2010, Adrian Fernandez had moved on to race for Aston Martin Racing in the Le Mans Series over in Europe. The team had brought one of its cars to take part in the 12 Hours of Sebring just a month prior. One month later, the team was back; ready to take on the streets of Long Beach.
The streets of Long Beach was quite a different venue for the Lola-Aston Martin that had been designed for Le Mans and the prepared road courses throughout Europe. In spite of this, it was believed the LMP1 car would have a power-advantage over the majority of the LMP field in the American Le Mans Series.
To level the playing field between the LMP2 class prototypes and the LMP1 cars like the Aston Martin and the turbocharged Lolas, the minimum weight of the LMP1 classified cars was increased to 900 kilograms while the LMP2 machines had a minimum weight of 825 kilograms. In addition to being able to run a lower weight, those machines that would classify as LMP2 cars would also be allowed to increase their fuel capacity up to 90 liters. These changes, and the streets of Long Beach, it was believed, would be enough to level the prototype field.
The race at Long Beach would only be the 15th temporary street circuit the series had competed. However, Long Beach would have to be one of the most historic of the street courses in all of North America. In fact, Long Beach is widely regarded as North America's premier street circuit.
The circuit; itself, has undergone some revisions and evolutions since its first race back in 1975. However, it has been the scene of just about every form of motor racing there is in the world. Formula One, Indycar, Champ Car and many other racing series have screamed down the curved front stretch along Shoreline Drive. The American Le Mans Series first visited the 1.96 mile circuit back in 2007. Overlooking the Queen Mary and the Long Beach waterfront, the Long Beach circuit is one of the more scenic street courses in the world.
The race along the streets of Long Beach was only a 100 minute race but would require two drivers to share time in the car. Dyson Racing's two drivers for the race would be Chris Dyson and Guy Smith.
In the course of the time between Sebring and Long Beach, Chris Dyson continued to build relationships with sponsors. As a result, the car's livery would change from white and green to an overall white with blue and red trim.
In spite of the minimum weight restrictions, Adrian Fernandez kept lowering the lap times during practice with the Lola-Aston Martin. However, Chris Dyson was using the tight streets and turbocharged Mazda engine to his advantage as he would be second-fastest at the end of the first practice session.
Chris Dyson would also take the car out during qualifying. Five minutes into the qualifying session, Dyson managed to turn the fastest lap for the team and the entire LMP field when he set a lap time of one minute and fifteen seconds. Then, in the last five minutes of the session, the true speeds of the competitors came out. Adrian Fernandez would turn in a lap of one minute and thirteen seconds in the Lola-Aston Martin. One minute later it would be beaten by Simon Pagenaud in the Highcroft Racing ARX-01c. One three minutes remained in the session when Adrian Fernandez would clip Pagenaud for the pole.
Fernandez would turn in a lap of one minute, thirteen seconds and two tenths. Pagenaud would turn in the second-fastest lap time also with a lap of one minute, thirteen seconds and two tenths. However, Pagenaud would be slower by only seven hundredths of a second! Chris Dyson would turn in the best lap time for the team of the whole weekend, but it would be nine tenths slower and only good enough for the team to start the race 3rd.
The race would start basking in the wonderful southern California weather. Harold Primat, in the Lola-Aston Marton, would lead going into turn one. Chris Dyson would manage to get around the Highcroft car to take over 2nd. Highcroft would end up slipping from 2nd down to 4th. The turbocharged cars would use their power advantage to gain position going into the first turn.
An early safety car period would end up hurting Dyson Racing. The first ten minutes of the race saw the safety car deployed for one of the LMPC cars into the tire barrier. Happening so early in the race, the tire pressures and the grip levels had not managed to come up yet. In addition, the safety car would bunch the field back up. One lap after the race had gone back green, Dyson went into the wall at turn one.
The visit into the wall would end up costing Dyson Racing early on, just like the electrical problems had at Sebring. Dyson would drop from 2nd all the way down to 29th overall. The team had its work cut out for it as it would try to make its way back up through the field.
After forty-five minutes, Dyson Racing was back up to 5th overall and looking to move even further forward. They would be helped by Lola-Aston Martin when Harold Primat would go off through the run off at turn one. Dyson would receive even more help when Autocon Motorsports would run into trouble and drop out of the top-five.
When Guy Smith took over behind the wheel of the car fifty-six minutes into the running, Dyson Racing had comeback from its early excursion and was running 4th overall behind Highcroft Racing, Muscle Milk Team Cytosport and Aston Martin Racing.
Only twenty minutes remained in the race. The top three were separated by less than six seconds, and, Dyson Racing ran close behind in 4th overall. Guy Smith was trying everything he could to get up and challenge with the top-three but was struggling to be able to get the consistent fast laps in.
Adrian Fernandez had managed to retake the lead with only minutes remaining in the race. The battle was between him and Simon Pagenaud in the Highcroft ARX-01c. Fernandez was in the lead heading out for the last lap of the race. Unfortunately, the heavier minimum weight of the LMP1 cars becomes a liability during a late-race battle. Fernandez managed to miss his braking point going into turn five. He could not get the car slowed fast enough compared to Pagenaud in the ARX. This left the door open to Simon, who would take advantage of the situation. He would slip through into the lead and would go on to win the race by only three tenths over Fernandez. Muscle Milk Team Cytosport would be able to hang on to 3rd place. Smith would quietly bring the Lola-Mazda home in 4th.
Early troubles once again cost the team from possibly and even better result than 4th. However, the team would finish and would score 13 points as a result. Unfortunately, the team remained in 4th position in the championship standings. At each of the first two rounds of the season the true pace of the Dyson Racing team was cut short by early troubles. In another month, the team would have the opportunity to see if it could show its true pace.
The third round of the ALMS featured a bit of a change. The series travelled up the Californian coast to Monterey for the running of the American Le Mans Series Monterey on the 22nd of May.
Laguna Seca wasn't new to the ALMS but the date was. Instead of being the last race on the calendar, it was the third. In addition, the race would not be the normal four hours. Instead, the race would be extended to six hours. This meant the race would extend into the nighttime hours and would serve as a final warm-up for those teams heading to Le Mans less than a month later.
At 2.23 miles in length, the Laguna Seca raceway is famous for its many elevation changes. But the eleven turn circuit can be recognized the world over when just one word is said—Corkscrew. The blind left-right chicane that drops from the top of the hill and plunges down over 175 feet to the front stretch.
Given the fact the race was six hours in length, Andy Meyrick was invited back to co-drive with Chris Dyson and Guy Smith. The white with blue and red trim would also remain for the race as well.
In spite of not taking place in October, as it had in the past, the temperatures throughout the weekend were not much different. Day-after-day the air temperature never got much warmer than 60 degrees.
Known as Mazda Raceway, it seemed as though Laguna Seca was built for the Mazda engine as Guy Smith would turn in the fastest lap time during the first and second practice sessions. The team was hoping the pace in practice would be an indication of what would happen during qualifying.
During qualifying, it seemed it was going to be Highcroft Racing sitting on the pole as David Brabham kept beating his own best times around the 2.23 mile circuit. Then, with only six minutes left, Guy Smith cracked-off an incredible lap. His lap time was one minute and twelve seconds. This time was almost a second faster than the best the car had done during any of the practice sessions. It seemed Dyson Racing was peaking at just the right time.
At the end of qualifying, Guy Smith had something to celebrate. He had earned the pole for Dyson Racing. But perhaps more importantly, he had earned his first ALMS pole! He hadn't just beaten his fellow competitors by a couple of tenths either. Brabham would start 2nd after setting a lap time that was over half a second slower! Klaus Graf put the Muscle Milk Team Cytosport Porsche on the grid in 3rd with a lap time over a second and a half slower. An excited Guy Smith would explain, 'I was in a bunch of traffic and it was all a bit fraught. I got to the corkscrew and took a breath. Then I tried to get my head down and go. The team said that we were 1.3 seconds behind in P2 and I thought, ‘That's going to be a lot to over come'. So I composed myself, and put down a whole lap. It was great when they told me I was P1.'
The skies were sunny, but the temperatures rather cold, as the race got underway. Clint Field, using the turbocharged AER engine, powered down the front straight and was able to take the lead from Chris Dyson. The Intersport Racing Lola-AER would lead throughout the first fifty-five minutes of the race. Dyson would run 2nd through the first half-hour, but then, would be passed by the old Muscle Milk Porsche. Highcroft Racing had been penalized and was forced to start the race from the very back of the field, but was on a charge to the front. Within the first five minutes of the race, the HPD ARX was all the way up to 4th overall and would be challenging Dyson before the first hour would be over.
Dyson would do his best to protect his position. With the race fifty minutes into the running, Dyson was trying to block the hard-charging Simon Pagenaud. Coming onto the front straight, Dyson would try and use a GT car to help hold Simon back. Dyson would go to the Porsche's right. Very little room existed to the left. Simon would squeeze through and would end up taking 3rd from Dyson. It was a very spectacular and brave move. Much of the credit for the pass deserved to go to the GT driver that didn't move.
Coming down out the hill out of the corkscrew, smoke began pouring out of Clint Field's AER engine. This handed the lead to Muscle Milk Team Cytosport. It also promoted Dyson Racing back up to 3rd.
Dyson Racing needed to keep from the little errors and problems that had been killing them throughout the first couple of races of the season. However, when Dyson handed the car over to Andy Meyrick, the Welsh driver would have to come back in to serve a stop and go penalty.
Looking for every advantage possible, the team would forgo changing tires two and a half hours into the race. Muscle Milk Team Cytosport would have a slow stop. By fueling only, Andy Meyrick was able to take over the lead of the race. Highcroft Racing would emerge in 2nd. This set the stage for an incredible battle with Highcroft Racing.
Dyson Racing would hold onto the lead over the course of the next half-hour, but then, would be overtaken in the pits by Highcroft. Over the next hour and forty-five minutes, Dyson Racing ran 2nd and Highcroft Racing ran in the lead. David Brabham had even managed to gain more than a lap advantage over the course of the hour and forty-five minutes. Guy Smith would hold his foot flat to the floor in an effort to make up the ground. As a result of his hard-charging, Smith would turn in the fastest lap of the race only two seconds slower than his pole time.
The lap deficit would be erased. And, as a result of Smith's fast lap times, he would be able to retake the lead from Marino Franchitti going into turn two. Only an hour and fifteen minutes remained in the race. Franchitti would not let Smith pull away, however.
A major part of the race would be played out during the final pit stops. Dyson Racing would elect to change all four tires. Highcroft would add only fuel and would leave the pits with the lead. Guy Smith was back to having to push hard. He had done it just a little earlier. Could he do it again?
The answer came with twenty-four minutes remaining in the race. Guy Smith parked the Lola-Mazda along the circuit coming out of turn four. He would report to the crew there was no electrical power. In addition, the oil filter had burned up. The race was over.
Marino Franchitti would just hold on and take the win. Franchitti would cruise across the line amidst a shower of fireworks launched into the sky. Highcroft would end up winning the race by seven laps over Muscle Milk Team Cytosport. Despite coming to a rest with twenty-four minutes remaining, Dyson Racing would still manage to finish the race 3rd in class and 14th overall. Unfortunately, this was yet another race in which its old Porsche Spyder had managed to be its former owner.
Considering the team started from the pole, the race at Monterey would be a truly bitter pill to swallow. The car had the pace. The drivers were comfortable behind the wheel. But, electrical and mechanical problems again ruined the race and left the team wondering, 'What could've been?' About the only consolation the team would leave with would be the points for finishing 3rd in the LMP category. Leaving Laguna Seca, Dyson Racing would have 18 more points toward the championship. Drayson Racing's failure during the race enabled Dyson to move up to 3rd in the championship standings.
There would be a break of almost two months after Monterey due to Le Mans in June. The team's next race would be just across the border in Utah.
Almost a month after Le Mans, the American Le Mans Series kicked back into gear. The series was again out west for what was the fourth round of the series. The fourth round was the Utah Grand prix, which took place at the Miller Motorsports Park on the 11th of July.
Built at an estimated cost of $100 million, the Miller Motorsports Park developed from a personal playground for Larry Miller, the owner of the Utah Jazz and a number of automobile dealerships, into a multi-use facility that hosts all kinds of racing. The facility features a 24 acre paddock, an on-site medical facility, club house, vintage car museum and a helicopter pad.
The 4.48 mile full course is surrounded by wide-open spaces that provide plenty of run-off protection, which is a good thing considering such corners as 'Scream', 'Demon', 'Devil', 'Diablo' and 'Gotcha'. At over 4,000 feet in altitude, it also plays to the strengths offered by turbochargers. Therefore, the track would play to the strengths of Dyson Racing's Mazda-powered Lola.
Celebrating their partnership with Castrol, the car had a new livery for the race. Still painted in an overall white, the Lola was trimmed in the red and green colors of Castrol. While the car may have looked good, what it needed was more speed.
Throughout the practice sessions, the heavier LMP1 machines, like Autocon and Intersport, with their turbocharged AER engines were amongst the fastest, if not the fastest. It was believed this would end up being the case during qualifying as well. Dyson Racing; however, continued to show its speed as it would be at the top of the time sheets throughout the practice sessions.
Both Autocon and Intersport teams put together some impressive laps. However, they would be beaten by Klaus Graf in the Muscle Milk Team Cytosport Porsche in the 3.4-liter Porsche V8. Chris Dyson, using his AER-developed 2.0-liter Mazda engine would turn in a lap of one minute and thirty four seconds and nine tenths. This time would end up beating Graf by only three hundredths of a second. Jonny Cocker would end up clipping Dyson in the LMP1 version of the Lola coupe. Utilizing the Judd V10 engine, Cocker was able to turn a lap a little over a hundredth of a second faster than Dyson. Surprising to most everybody, the pole time would be lowered even more, but not by a turbocharged car. Simon Pagenaud would put together an incredible lap. He would end up lapping the circuit a half of a second faster than Cocker. Therefore, Highcroft Racing would start on the pole. Alongside would be Drayson Racing in their Lola-Judd. And, Dyson Racing would start 3rd.
At the start of the race, the Intersport Racing Lola flew up to take the lead going into turn one. The Dyson Racing Lola also had the power down and was able to get by the pole-sitting HPD ARX of Highcroft Racing, but it could not hold back some of the more powerful cars. At the end of the 1st lap of the race, Dyson Racing ran 4th overall. By the end of the 2nd lap, the car was up to 3rd and holding position against the Highcroft Racing entry. Though running solidly in 3rd position, the lack of speed, compared to what the team had been able to turn during practice, was rather mystifying.
Throughout the first hour, of the two hour and forty-five minute race, Dyson Racing remained in 3rd chasing the Intersport Racing and Drayson Racing entries. The team would end up dropping down a spot during pitstops under yellow flag conditions.
By this point in time, Highcroft Racing had managed to use its faster pit work to gain the lead of the race. Intersport ran 2nd followed by Drayson Racing and Dyson Racing in 3rd and 4th.
A battle developed amongst the top three teams throughout the next hour. Dyson Racing would hold steady in 4th; hoping the other teams would push to hard and suffer some kind of mechanical trouble, or, even an accident that would perhaps take a couple of the front-runners out at the same time.
As two hours of running came to a close, Intersport Racing began to fade. Muscle Milk Team Cytosport; however, was coming on strong. On the 58th lap of the race, or one hour and fifty minutes in, Dyson's Lola-Mazda would end up getting passed by both Muscle Milk Team Cytosport and Intersport. This was after Dyson had managed to get by Intersport just one lap earlier.
While 3rd through 5th was embroiled in a battle, the battle for the lead between Highcroft Racing and Drayson Racing was fully developed and heating up. Each team would lead between twenty to thirty minutes and then would lose the lead to the other team.
Dyson Racing, despite its lacking speed, was looking to be in a good position to earn some decent points toward the championship. Then, with only eighteen laps remaining in the race, disaster struck the team. With Guy Smith behind the wheel, the car suddenly lost all power and came to a rest along the side of the track. A surprised and confused Smith would exclaim, 'There was no prior warning.'
Drayson Racing, with Emanuele Pirro behind the wheel, just could not keep up with the Highcroft Racing ARX. Highcroft cruised to the victory by more than nineteen seconds over Drayson Racing. Muscle Milk Team Cytosport continued to add insult to injury as it would take the Porsche Spyder to a 3rd place finish.
The disastrous last-minute trouble cost Dyson Racing. The team would end the race in 30th position overall and 6th in LMP. This would end up really hurting the team as it meant Dyson Racing would only garner 6 points toward the championship. After Monterey, Dyson Racing had managed to move up to 3rd in the championship standings over Drayson Racing. Dyson Racing would leave Utah still in 3rd place in the championship, but the 2nd place scored by Drayson Racing would make things even more tight.
Two weeks after the frustrating and bitter last minute failure at the Utah Grand Prix, Dyson Racing, and the American Le Mans Series, found themselves all the way over to the east coast for the Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park. This was a welcome venue for Dyson Racing being that the team is based only a few hours away in upstate New York.
The Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park was the fifth round of the ALMS and took place on Saturday, July 23rd on the 1.53 mile road course located near Lakeville, Connecticut. Dyson Racing arrived barely holding onto 3rd in the championship standings behind Muscle Milk Team Cytosport and Highcroft Racing.
Reminiscent of being in some kind of nature park, everything about Lime Rock is 'natural'. Founded in 1957, the circuit follows the ebbs and flows of the surrounding countryside. It climbs and falls with the terrain and boasts of no grandstands or bleachers. But it does offer free parking. This natural flow to the circuit makes it fast and friendly to the competitors and spectators. And at only a mile and a half in length, the lap times usually run under a minute; if the conditions are dry. At that kind of pace, the racing around Lime Rock Park is certainly furious. In fact, Lime Rock remains the site of the closest finish in ALMS history. Back in 2006, the margin of victory between the Aston Martin and Corvette in GT1 was only three hundredths of a second!
The rain was falling during practice. This served to do more than just level the field. In fact, many of the LMPC and GT cars were able to run faster lap times with their heavier machines. The LMP prototypes, with their excessive horsepower, would just have their back-ends step out in the wet conditions, even with traction control. Finally, the LMP cars began to find their footing and lowered the lap times, but not by much. As an indicator of how the conditions were, the difference in times between the LMP and GTC lap times was only around five seconds!
Throughout the practice sessions, Dyson Racing struggled to be amongst the top of the LMP competitors. The rain had stopped falling prior to the final practice session. This was helping the track to dry out for qualifying. The drying track posed an opportunity for the team to find some speed and have a good starting position for the race.
Rain had started to fall just prior to qualifying, and then, picked up when the prototype classes headed out to turn their fastest laps. This made for a wet track, at least initially. A couple of minutes into the session the rain totally stopped. The track needed time to dry out before the pace could really come down. But the qualifying session was only twenty minutes in duration. This meant the lap times would be furious in the last couple of minutes of the session.
Sure enough, with only a couple of minutes left, the lap times were easily coming in under fifty-nine seconds. Guy Smith was doing everything he could just to get the Lola-Mazda to turn a lap under one minute. As the checkered flag flew at the end of qualifying, David Brabham had the pole after turning in a lap of fifty-eight seconds and one-tenth. Klaus Graf would start 2nd after setting a time six-tenths slower. Smith was able to break the one minute barrier, but only just. Smith's time was fifty-nine seconds and nine-tenths. In spite of being almost two second slower than Brabham, Dyson Racing would start the race 3rd.
The skies were a mixture of sun and clouds, the temperatures were incredibly hot, but at least there was no rain, at least not right away. Thirty cars rolled away from the grid to prepare for the start of the race. When the green flag waved to start the race, Chris Dyson used the power of the turbocharged Mazda engine to power right up between Highcroft and Drayson Racing to take the lead going into the first turn.
Throughout the first few laps, Dyson would have to defend the lead from Jonny Cocker in the Drayson Racing Lola-Judd. Dyson would hold on for only three laps. Coming down the front-straight, Cocker would pull alongside of Dyson and would get by into the lead of the race. As Cocker was pulling by, flames began shooting out of the exhaust on the Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda. This would force Dyson to come into the pits to have the trouble checked.
As Dyson brought the car into have it checked he would report to the team the car just seemed to lose power down the straight. It was as though the boost dropped. The crew continued to look over the car to try and find out the problem, but their pace wasn't all that quick, suggesting it was a problem that would cost them the race.
The race went on. Drayson Racing would end up suffering from electrical problems that would drop them out of the picture for the win, but they would continue to lap the track. The Highcroft Racing ARX-01c and the Muscle Milk Team Cytosport Porsche RS Spyder became locked in a battle for the lead.
Less than ten minutes remained in the race. David Brabham was right behind Klaus Graf coming onto the front straight. Brabham made his move and was forced off the track by Graf. Because of all the rain that had fallen over the course of the weekend the grass was more like a marsh than anything else. And, when Brabham was forced off the track the ARX looked more like an airboat skirting over the top of the water. Spray flew everywhere.
For forcing Brabham off the track, Graf was given a stop and go penalty. Brabham still got the short end of the stick. The off-roading through the marshlands would end up cutting down the right rear tire. The slower pace around the track, and the subsequent time it took to replace the tire in the pits, would end up costing the team dearly.
When the white flag flew at the start of the final lap of the race, Graf had a lead of over thirty seconds over Brabham in the Highcroft ARX chassis. The number 99 LMPC prototype of Green Earth Team Gunnar would end up finishing the race 3rd overall, down nine laps to Graf and Brabham.
Although considered by Dyson Racing to be its home track, Lime Rock would not be so kind to the team. Dyson Racing would leave Lime Rock without a single point toward the championship. Thankfully for the team, Drayson Racing would also leave Lime Rock without having scored a single point. Therefore, Dyson Racing remained 3rd in the points for the championship.
Drayson Racing's failure to score any points was a bit like a reprieve for Dyson as the series headed back west for the next round of the American Le Mans Series Championship. The next stop was the ever-popular Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on the 7th of August.
In the early part of August, the American Le Mans Series arrived at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course near Lexington, Ohio for the sixth round of the series championship. This was the ninth time the ALMS had ever raced at Mid-Ohio and the 2.25 mile circuit.
Throughout its history hosting the ALMS, Mid-Ohio had turned into a place of close finishes. Over the course of the last four races held at the venue, the margin of victory has never been more than nine seconds. The closest one had been in 2006 with less than a half a second separating 1st and 2nd at the line.
Located in the rolling farmland of central Ohio, Mid-Ohio has become a very popular venue with drivers and teams every since its opening in 1962. The track features some elevations changes and blind corners, as well as, a long back-straight that allows cars to routinely exceed 180 mph. The circuit and the grounds have gone through a number of refurbishments over the last couple of decades and has the ability to host over 75,000 spectators.
Mid-Ohio has always been a good race for Dyson Racing over the course of ALMS coming to the circuit. The team had scored a number of top-five results and had even scored a victory over the course of the previous years. The worst result the team ever experienced at the circuit happened the year before (2009) when the team failed to finish. With this kind of record at the track, Dyson Racing could approach the weekend with confidence.
The Muscle Milk Team Cytosport Porsche suffered a terrible accident during practice. The former Dyson Racing chassis had suffered damage to its tub, which meant the team would not take part in the race.
Throughout practice the Dyson Racing entry was amongst the fastest in the LMP category. This kind of performance boded well heading into qualifying later on in the day.
In the twenty minute qualifying session Chris Dyson was fast straight out of the box. He and Jonny Cocker, of Drayson Racing, would begin trading fastest lap times. Cocker would finally turn in the fastest lap and would only further lower the bar through the end of qualifying. In the end, Cocker would take the pole having turned a lap of the 2.25 mile circuit in one minute, ten seconds and zero-tenths. Chris Dyson would make it two Lola coupes on the front row with a lap of one minute, ten seconds and nine-tenths. Simon Pagenaud would put the Highcroft Racing HPD ARX on the grid in 3rd with a lap almost a half of a second slower than that of Dyson's best.
The efforts of Cocker and Dyson during qualifying made it the first time since 1993 that two coupes would start a race at Mid-Ohio from the front row.
The weather throughout the weekend had been absolutely incredible. As the field rolled away to prepare for the start of the race the temperature was comfortable and the skies were sunny.
The start of the race was aborted for the second-straight year. The clocked had started but the field was still under the control of the yellow flag. One lap later, the green flag was shown to get the actual racing underway. And at the start, the Intersport entry, driven by Clint Field, would take the lead. Guy Smith would hold the Dyson Racing Lola in the 2nd position. Lord Paul Drayson, in his Lola-Judd, would slip from the pole down to 4th behind David Brabham in the Highcroft ARX. This was a great beginning for Intersport as Mid-Ohio was the team's home race as the team is based in nearby Columbus, Ohio.
At the start of the 3rd lap, Lord Paul Drayson would spin off the circuit at turn two. He would continue in 4th place. Smith remained in 2nd behind the Intersport Lola. Brabham, who was in 3rd, was closely following after Smith.
The head of the field remained unchanged throughout the first forty-five minutes of the race. Yellow flags flew after forty-seven minutes of running. This provided the perfect time for some pit-stops. During Dyson Racing's pit-stop Smith would relinquish control behind the wheel to Chris Dyson. The stop would drop the team down to 3rd overall behind Intersport and Highcroft Racing.
Just before the yellow came out, Drayson had contact with a GT car and spun. The car took a while to re-fire and get back to the pits. During the stop it was found the steering had broken. This caused the team to slip all the way down to 32nd overall. This eased some of the pressure on Dyson Racing as long as it could carry on to the finish.
Once the race went back to green, the battle between Chris Dyson and Simon Pagenaud in the Highcroft ARX for 2nd began in earnest. Dyson would follow until an hour and sixteen minutes into the race when he would end up getting by for 2nd overall. Dyson would remain in 2nd over the course of the next thirty minutes.
The team managed to come into the pits just before another yellow flag was shown. It was two hours into the race and the pit-stop couldn't have been better timed. Highcroft still needed to come in and pit. When they did, Dyson Racing took over the lead of the race having beaten Intersport out of the pits when the two cars pitted at the same time.
When forty-five minutes remained in the race, the green flag was shown to the field. Dyson was in the lead, hounded by Simon Pagenaud. In spite of all the pressure, Dyson continued to keep from putting a foot wrong. Within twenty minutes, Chris had managed to use the turbocharged Mazda engine to pull out a three second advantage over Pagenaud. But Pagenaud was known for later-stage charges.
A late yellow bunched the field up. When the green flag was shown with fifteen minutes remaining, Dyson needed to respond. He would do just that. He would turn the fastest lap of the race, but would still have less than a tenth of a second advantage over Pagenaud.
One lap remained in the race, and Dyson was still under great pressure from Simon. The gap between the two was only three tenths of a second. Simon was hoping to pressure Dyson into a mistake just as he had Fernandez at Long Beach. It wouldn't happen.
Chris Dyson remained cool under the pressure and would end up beating Pagenaud by half a second for the win! This was lovely retribution after all of the unfortunate events that had occurred throughout the season. Speaking of the pressure Dyson stated, 'I really just tried to keep my head down and concentrate on the corners ahead…The fans saw some of the best racing here. It was absolutely about survival.'
In what was the second-straight race, an LMPC prototype car would finish 3rd overall. Level 5 Motorsports would take 3rd overall and the victory in LMPC this time.
The victory couldn't have come at a better time for Dyson Racing. The troubles for Drayson Racing dropped them well out of contention for a better points-paying position. As a result of the win, Dyson Racing would take away maximum points for the championship. It would seem Mid-Ohio has to be considered the home track for Dyson Racing after having scored its second victory in nine races.
Dyson Racing earned 20 points toward the championship after the win. This put the team solidly in 3rd in the standings. The 20 points helped Dyson to extend their margin to 23 points over Drayson Racing.
Dyson Racing left Ohio, on its way to Wisconsin, with the sweet taste of victory fresh on its lips. The victory served as a great confidence booster for the team given the difficult season the team had experienced. However, the team didn't have too much time to relish the victory. The seventh round of the championship was only two weeks away and at the long and fast Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake Wisconsin.
Road America, as with Mid-Ohio, was getting set to host the American Le Mans Series for the ninth time. Road America is one of the favorite circuits for the drivers of the series because of its long straights and elevation changes. In another similarity to Mid-Ohio, the Road America circuit, despite its length and high-speed nature, has been the site of a number of close finishes. Over the course of the previous five races held at the circuit the largest winning margin has been no greater than three and a half seconds.
A street circuit in downtown Elkhart Lake served as the site of the original course. The tragic death of a child at Watkins Glen led to all such street circuits being banned. As a result, a new circuit was designed and built and opened in 1955. Ever since opening in 1955, Road America has served as host to a number of open-wheel and sports car races throughout the years. Located in Wisconsin's Kettle Moraine, the circuit features a number of elevation changes, none of which any more dramatic than the dramatic climb up the hill on the start/finish straight. Noted for its long front stretch that enables cars to reach speeds close to 200 mph, and, such corners as the carousel, the 'kink' and Canada corner, Road America is recognized the world-over as one of North America's premier road courses.
The cars all hit the 4.04 mile road course for practice under sunny skies and dry conditions. This enabled the teams to let loose in search for their top speeds. This was perfect for Guy Smith. He would let loose with an incredible lap that would only be eclipsed by Jonny Cocker in the Drayson Racing Lola. All through the practice sessions Dyson Racing was amongst the top-two in the LMP category. This offered great confidence going into qualifying.
In qualifying, nobody, absolutely nobody, could touch Jonny Cocker. Five minutes into the session the Brit would turn in the fastest lap around the 4.04 mile road course. From that point on he would only beat his own lap times and would further and further lower the bar. In the end, Cocker would be the only driver that would turn a lap under one minute and fifty seconds. Cocker's best time would be one minute, forty-nine seconds and five-tenths. Guy Smith would put forth a valiant effort but would end up turning in a lap of one minute, fifty seconds and eight-tenths; over a second slower! Klaus Graf would put Muscle Milk Team Cytosport on the grid in 3rd with a time just under two seconds slower than Cocker's best.
Only three races remained on the season. If Dyson Racing could pull out a good result at Road America, and Drayson Racing suffered from issues of some kind, the team would be in a good position to finish 3rd in the championship. But the team had to get through Road America first.
The race began in wonderful weather. In the long drag down the front stretch, Johnny Mowlem, in the number 12 Autocon Motorsports Lola-AER, was able to power to the front of the pack coming out of turn one. Drayson Racing slipped back to 4th overall while Chris Dyson would slot into 3rd having lost 2nd to Pagenaud in the Highcroft ARX.
The LMP field remained relatively steady through the first half-hour of the race. Then, forty minutes in, Chris would get past Pagenaud going into turn three. Dyson would pull off the pass and would take over 2nd.
Dyson would later get passed by Pagenaud, but would remain 2nd in the running order after Johnny Mowlem's Lola-AER got caught in 5th gear and had to come into the pits to see about repairing the trouble.
The yellow flag flew with about an hour and a half remaining in the race. Muscle Milk Team Cytosport and Highcroft Racing would take a gamble and would refuel and replace tires for the last time. This move allowed Dyson Racing to take over the lead of the race, which it would retain until it made its final stop about a half an hour later.
When Guy Smith returned to the circuit he was shown in 4th overall. Drayson Racing assumed the lead when the race went back to green flag racing. Jonny Cocker then did everything he could to disappear into the distance as the team still needed to make it final stop. The intention was to gap the field so that he could possibly get in and out still close enough to challenge for the lead.
The LMP field would run steady over the following half hour. Then, with twenty minutes remaining, Cocker would come in for his final pitstop. This would set the stage for one of the most dramatic finishes in ALMS history.
The running order with fifteen minutes remaining was Muscle Milk Team Cytosport in the lead followed by Highcroft Racing and Dyson Racing in 2nd and 3rd respectively. Jonny Cocker was flying having dropped to 4th after his pitstop. The order would remain relatively unchanged until there was only about five minutes remaining in the race.
Coming down the long Moraine Sweep back stretch, Guy Smith was barely holding off a charging Cocker. Cocker would move to the inside and would get by Smith going into turn five. This moved Smith down to 4th overall. Smith would try to come back on Cocker, but Cocker was too fast. One lap later, Cocker would end up getting David Brabham going into turn five, just as he had Smith the previous lap. Having gapped Brabham and Smith, Cocker set sail in search of Klaus Graf, who was conserving fuel after stopping with still an hour and a half of racing left.
Due to the fact Graf was having to conserve fuel just to make it to the end, Cocker was making up the gap between himself and Graf hand-over-fist. Graf would fly past the white flag with a lead of five seconds. But it wouldn't be enough. Coming around the Carousel and headed down through the Kink toward Canada Corner, Cocker had Graf in his sights. Graf began to suffer from fuel pick-up problems, which would allow Cocker to get by into the lead at Canada Corner. Cocker would round turn fourteen and climb the hill to take the checkered flag for Drayson Racing! This was the team's first-ever LMP victory in the ALMS.
The furious last couple of laps threw all of the top-four positions into doubt. David Brabham put forth a charge to try and catch Graf before the line. Smith, in turn, was chasing after Brabham knowing the Highcroft car also was running low on fuel. Unfortunately for Dyson Racing, the extra fuel in its tank couldn't help Smith get by before the line. Muscle Milk would hold on to finish 2nd. Highcroft Racing would finish 3rd. Dyson Racing would finish a disappointing 4th.
Dyson Racing would end up leaving Road America with 10 points toward the championship, but this would be bitter-sweet after the team had proven to be one of the fastest of the LMP competitors throughout the weekend. On top of it all, Drayson Racing's victory actually reduced the 23 point advantage, coming into the race, by almost half. Dyson would need to push over the course of the final two rounds if it wanted to remain 3rd in the championship standings. Its first opportunity to claw back its lost advantage would come just one week later across the border in Canada.
In 2010, Mosport International Raceway was celebrating its 50th anniversary. During its anniversary year, Canada's largest motorsports complex would host the eighth round of the American Le Mans Series.
Located in Bowmanville, Ontario, Mosport was the second purpose-built road course in Canada and played host to such famous racing series as Formula One, the World Sportscar Championship, IMSA GT, Can-Am and Indycar. The ten-turn, 2.54 mile road course has remained relatively unchanged since its opening in 1961. Known for its beautiful setting and undulating layout, Mosport also is remembered for its two most-famous portions: the double 'Moss Corner' and the 'Mario Andretti Straightaway'.
During practice, Dyson Racing struggled a bit. During one of the sessions, Chris Dyson was able to push the car and be amongst the top-three in times. However, during an afternoon session, the car suddenly slowed between turns five and six. The issues seemed to rectify themselves as the team was ready to take part in qualifying just a little later on.
In qualifying, the true pace possible out of the Lola B09/86/Mazda became very evident. Early on in the session, Chris Dyson would turn the fastest lap, only to have it eclipsed by Klaus Graf in the Muscle Milk Porsche. Dyson would continue to push, but all it would end up accomplishing was that it pushed Graf to go faster. Faster Graf would go. Graf would end up taking the pole for the race turning in a lap of one minute, six seconds and nine-tenths. Chris Dyson would put the Dyson Racing Lola on the grid in 2nd after turning in a lap only two-tenths slower than Graf. Simon Pagenaud, and Highcroft Racing would round-out the top-three on the starting grid. Pagenaud's best time was only eight hundredths slower than Dyson's time.
Even before the race started, Dyson Racing would have its work cut out for itself. The team had made the decision to change tires before the start of the race. Since teams are to start the race with the same tires on which they qualify, Dyson Racing was penalized. Instead of starting 2nd, Chris Dyson would start the race from the pitlane.
At 3:00pm, the green flag flew and the race was on its way. Romain Dumas would lead in the Porsche Spyder through the first lap followed by David Brabham and Tony Burgess in the Autocon Lola-AER. At the end of the 1st lap, Dyson had managed to come from the back of the field to run 17th. Six minutes into the race, Dyson had managed to make his way up to 5th overall and was eager to move further forward. Forty minutes into the race, Dyson had managed to come all the way from the back of the field to 3rd overall. The Intersport entry would then make a pitstop, which would bring Dyson all the way back up to 2nd.
Chris Dyson was running solidly in 2nd when a mistake would cost the team dearly. While trying to get around the number 4 GT Corvette of Jan Magnussen, Dyson made contact and would end up running slow out on the circuit. The contact and the slow trip back to the pits would cause the team to fall all the way back down to 8th overall. Guy Smith would take over behind the wheel and would be fast once again.
Smith's pace would be hindered as the team was slapped with a one minute penalty for working on the car while the pits were closed for the incident involving themselves and the Corvette. The penalty would end up dropping Dyson Racing back, once again, to 10th overall.
Forgetting about the penalty, Smith would put his head down in an effort to claw back what was lost through the series of unfortunate events. With only about fifty minutes remaining, Dyson Racing had made its way up to 6th overall. There was still enough time to move even further forward if everything went as scheduled throughout the time remaining. Unfortunately, the schedule would end up being thrown out of the window in just a couple of minutes.
Coming through the Andretti Straightaway Jonny Cocker would sideswipe Luke Hines sending the Hines' Porsche 911 hard into the Armco barrier. A huge piece of the Armco was torn out, and, after almost twenty minutes under the control of the safety car, the race was stopped. Unfortunately for Dyson Racing, they had decided to refuel during the lengthy yellow. This would drop the team down to 7th overall. Drayson Racing had waited to stop and managed to come out in front of Smith. Only a half of an hour remained in the race when it was brought to a stop. A lengthy delay ensued as the track workers tried to repair the barrier.
It was made clear the barrier would not be repaired in a reasonable amount of time. Instead of merely calling the race, the ALMS officials decided to send the field around the track on one more lap for the fans under the control of the safety car. After one lap behind the safety car, the race was over. Muscle Milk Team Cytosport would be declared the winner over Patron Highcroft and Autocon Motorsports. Dyson Racing would end the race down five laps and 7th overall.
Once again, early troubles cost Dyson Racing. The car was lapping comfortably amongst the very front before the contact and slow lap that ensued because of the contact. The penalty only further made sure Dyson would not have the kind of result they could have. Drayson Racing also had a bad day, but still managed to take another couple of points out of Dyson's 3rd place position. It was going to all come down to the last race of the season, which was the challenging Petit Le Mans.
It all came down to one last race. And the last race would be no easy task. The ninth, and final, round of the American Le Mans Series Championship was the 1,000 mile, or ten hour, Petit Le Mans race held at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia.
The marquee event on the American Le Mans Series calendar, the Petit Le Mans had one important distinction. Besides Le Mans itself, the winner in each class at the Petit Le Mans earns an automatic invitation to the next year's 24 hour Le Mans race.
In 2010, Petit Le Mans earned another distinction. The Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) had announced the formation of a new series for 2010 called the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC). This reflected a concerted effort of the ACO to take Le Mans endurance racing global. In its inaugural season, the ILMC would race at three events. The first event was the 1000km of Silverstone. The second would be the Petit Le Mans. And, the final round would be the 1000km of Zhuhai in Zhuhai, China.
The significance of the announcement was the fact the top LMP1 teams from around the world take part in the Petit Le Mans in 2010. Team Peugeot Total would bring two of their diesel-powered 908s. Audi Sport would also bring two diesel-powered R15 Plus chassis to the race.
The LMP category would again be split for this final race of the season. This meant Dyson Racing would be categorized in the LMP2 class. The LMP2 wasn't lacking any extra competition though either. OAK Racing, a regular in the Le Mans Series in Europe, would make the trip to Georgia to take part in the race along with the LMP1 Peugeots and Audis. In all, forty-three cars would be entered to take part in the race scheduled to take place on the 2nd of October.
Not seen since the six hour race at Monterey all the way back in May, Andy Meyrick was back with Chris Dyson and Guy Smith behind the wheel of the Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda. Appearing to not have missed a beat, Meyrick would go out during a couple of the practice sessions and would be amongst the top-three in LMP2.
Each practice session flirted with rain. While the track would dry out rather quickly, the grass surrounding the track's edge was absolutely soaked. This made the track rather slippery when a car got off the circuit and brought the red clay and water back up on the track.
In a large international event as Petit Le Mans was definitely shaping up to be, the Le Mans championship; Guy Smith, would be given the honor of putting the Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda in the field. Throughout the majority of the session, Klaus Graf was proving to be the class of the LMP2 field in the Porsche RS Spyder. But then, with ten minutes remaining, Smith would rip off an incredible lap around the 2.54 mile circuit. Smith's time was one minute, ten seconds and four-tenths. He would end up beating out Graf for the pole by just over a tenth of a second. David Brabham would qualify the Highcroft ARX 3rd with a time only a little over two-tenths of a second slower.
Under wonderfully sunny skies the 13th Petit Le Mans streaked away to begin its long 1,000 mile journey. While the LMP1 competitors jockeyed for position, Chris Dyson was doing everything possible to hold off Klaus Graf for the lead in the LMP2 category. Through the course of the next couple of laps, Dyson began to stretch out his advantage in the lead and got in a comfortable pace.
Simon Pagenaud had gotten past Klaus Graf who seemingly had troubles in the Porsche RS Spyder. Chris Dyson continued to run in the lead of LMP2 through the first twenty minutes of the race. An early yellow flag came out due to a GTC Porsche going off the course at the bottom of the hill at the end of the straight. During the safety car period Dyson would come in to the pits and would relinquish the lead to Pagenaud in the Highcroft ARX.
Through the course of pitstops, Dyson would get shuffled down to 8th overall, but was still looking very good. Unfortunately, things that were looking very good turned terribly bad fifty-four minutes into the race as the Dyson Lola-Mazda slowed around turn six. Dyson lost some time cycling the master power inside the car, but was able to get the power back. Because of the time it took to restore the power to the car, Dyson Racing dropped back down to 8th overall.
Overcoming the early hiccup, the Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda continued on strong inside the top-eight, and 2nd in LMP2, through the course of the first-half of the race. But then, four hours and forty minutes in the running, Chris Dyson would come back into the pits and would have the rear bodywork taken off. The crew would check over the car. Then, the car would be taken back to the paddock. A half of an hour later it would be announced that Dyson Racing officially retired from the race due to gearbox troubles.
This left Dyson Racing out with over half of a race still to go. This would be a long time for the team to watch and wait to see where they would end up in the American Le Mans Championship standings.
At 8:40pm in the evening, Stephane Sarrazin took off on the final two miles of the 1,000 mile race. Highcroft Racing remained at the head of the LMP2 field by quite a margin over the Muscle Milk Porsche. As the field rounded Road Atlanta just one more time, the hopes of Dyson Racing were dashed as the Drayson Racing Lola-Judd would go on to finish the race in LMP1.
In LMP2 Highcroft Racing would take the victory, and the championship, over Muscle Milk Team Cytosport. The number 35 Pescarolo-Judd of OAK Racing would finish 3rd, down almost thirty laps behind the Highcroft ARX-01c.
Most importantly to Dyson Racing, Drayson Racing would finish the race 8th overall and 6th in LMP1. This would give the team 26 points to no points for Dyson Racing. Therefore, in the very last race of the season, Drayson Racing leaped Dyson Racing for 3rd in the American Le Mans Series Championship standings.
The ill-timed and unfortunate troubles of the season would end up coming back; therefore, and haunt the team. The season would have looked totally different had the issues with car reliability not happened. There were many bitter moments over the course of the season for the team. But there were many bright spots as well. Obviously the team had the pace. If they manage to get the reliability, as well as, the speed Dyson Racing will be an absolute force to be reckon with in the American Le Mans Series.
Constantly on the technological edge, and the competitive edge, Dyson Racing announced a partnership with Green Earth Technologies, Inc. for 2011. As a result of the partnership, the team will run the eco-friendly G-OIL in the upcoming season. 'We applaud Green Earth Technologies' initiative in producing a motor oil, along with their complete line of bio-based products, that are relevant in today's world', noted Chris Dyson. Already running the isobutanol fuel, the G-OIL helps Dyson Racing achieve its aim of being 'the most ecologically-based team in the ALMS paddock'.
In addition to the announcement with the new partnership with G-OIL, Dyson Racing also welcomed a new driver for the 2011 season. Announced in early February, Jay Cochran would join the team as Andy Meyrick moved on. Commenting on the addition of Cochran to the team Dyson noted, 'Jay brings speed, experience, a good track record and a full commitment to the team. This was his first time in the car and he very quickly and methodically got up to speed. His personality is a natural fit with our team.'
Besides the announcement of a new third driver, additional partnerships with Modspace and Construct Corps were also announced. Having one more year with Mazda, Dyson Racing hopes all of the team's potential can be tapped, including reliability. Speaking about its early season testing, all that Dyson would say to describe the experience would be, 'two productive days'. Is this a statement of concern, or, of not showing one's hand? It will all become clear very soon. Dyson Racing