Dyson Racing claimed another podium finish in the latest round of the American Le Mans Series, held at the scenic Elkhart Lake circuit in Wisconsin last night.
Driving their Lola B06/10 LMP1 chassis, James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger were right on the tail of the Audi R10 cars as the chequered flag fell after 76 laps of racing. The sister car of Guy Smith and Chris Dyson recovered from a first lap puncture to claim 5th in class and set the fastest lap of the race, proving that the Dyson Lola’s are the only combination to offer a consistent challenge to the mighty resources of Audi.
The race began with the AER twin turbo powered Lola of Weaver climbing all over the pair of Audi’s during the opening laps, splitting them after Frank Biela had an off track excursion trying to repel the dynamic Englishman at turn one. The action culminated in contact between the two, as Weaver explained after his stint:
“Alan McNish was blocking quite a bit, which he is entitled to do,” said Weaver. “But while he was busy blocking, Frank Biela got hung out to dry on the outside and Frank had no where to go, so we all met in the middle and he unfortunately slid off the road.”
There began a race long battle between the top three cars. James Weaver even briefly took the lead just before the half hour mark, although McNish reclaimed it just a few corners later. After Weaver handed over to team mate Butch Leitzinger, the American too came close to the Audi pair, but was just unable to get by.
“On the restarts, I would get a good jump and I could get under Allan (McNish),” said Leitzinger. “But whenever you got up under their wing, you lost all downforce off the front end. The car was right on and the team did a great job getting the most out of the car and we gave it all we had today.”
After losing a lot of time with the first lap puncture, Chris Dyson drove splendidly to recover. However, more misfortune befell the American when, already critically low on fuel, the pitlane closed after a full course yellow was issued.
“I had no choice but to come in,” recounted Dyson. “It was either that or run out of fuel on the track. Our team manager made sure there was no work done to the car so we would not violate the regulations. But they still hit us with a one minute and fifty second penalty. That just took the race away from us.”
Guy Smith took over the steering wheel from Dyson and immediately set about re-gaining the lost time. The Yorkshireman set some stunning race laps in his quest and took some solace from setting the fastest lap overall with a blistering 1m51.586s.
Highcroft Racing continued the excellent form from the last event at Portland to claim 4th in LMP1 and 6th place overall yesterday. Duncan Dayton started the race and enjoyed a titanic battle with Sascha Maassen’s Porsche. Just before handing over to Wallace, the car developed a long brake pedal but the experienced Englishman brought the Lola-MG home for a fine finish, which delighted team boss Dayton.
"We had a longer and longer brake pedal as the race went on. Andy didn't have the car to be able to attack at the end because of that. The problem started about half-way through my stint. But early on the car was quick.”
Autocon Motorsport had a troubled weekend in Wisconsin with Michael Lewis and Chris McMurray suffering from clutch issues in qualifying, meaning that they were forced to start from the rear of the grid. The pair also had a problematic race and finished in 20th position.
Intersport Racing claimed 3rd place in LMP2, it was their 7th podium position from as many races. Clint Field and Liz Halliday were joined by Jon Field for this race and are now just two points behind the Porsche pairing of Sascha Maassen and Timo Bernhard in the LMP2 title race.
The American Le Mans series travels across the border for its next race in Mosport, Ontario Canada on September 3. Lola sportscars will also be in action this coming weekend when four B5/40’s and a B06/10 race on home ground at Donington Park in the penultimate round of the Le Mans Series.
1. (2) Frank Biela/Emanuele Pirro Audi R10 TDI Power
2. (1) Allan McNish/Rinaldo Capello Audi R10 TDI Power
3. (4) James Weaver/Butch Leitzinger Lola B06/10 AER
4. (6) Sascha Maassen/Timo Bernhard Porsche RS Spyder
5. (3) Lucas Luhr/Romain Dumas Porsche RS Spyder
6. (5) Duncan Dayton/Andy Wallace Lola B01/60 AER
7. (7) Chris Dyson/Guy Smith Lola B06/10 AER
8. (8) Clint Field/Jon Field/Liz Halliday Lola B05/40 AER
9. (10) Ron Fellows/Johnny O`Connell Corvette C6.R
10. (12) Oliver Gavin/Olivier Beretta Corvette C6.R.
11. (11) Darren Turner/Tomas Enge Aston Martin DB9
12. (13) Patrick Long/Jorg Bergmeister, Germany; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
13. (18) Bill Auberlen/Joey Hand BMW E46 M3
14. (14) Mike Rockenfeller/Marcel Tiemann Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
15. (20) Toni Vilander/Marc Gene Ferrari 430 GT Berlinetta
16. (9) Stephane Sarrazin/Pedro Lamy Aston Martin DB9
17. (16) Wolf Henzler/Johannes vanOverbeek Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
18. (21) Justin Marks/Bryan Sellers BMW E46 M3
19. (15) Stephane Ortelli/Mario Dominguez Ferrari 430 GT Berlinetta
20. (23) Michael Lewis/Chris McMurry Lola B01/60 AER
21. (19) David Brabham/Scott Maxwell Panoz Esperante GTLM .
22. (22) Tom Milner/Gunnar Jeannette Panoz Esperante GTLM
23. (17) Lonnie Pechnik/Craig Stanton/Seth Neiman Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
For more information, please visit www.dailysportscar.com