Dyson’s Lola-Mazda Gets First Win
Dyson Racing scored a maiden victory for its Lola-Mazda at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Round 6 of the American Le Mans Series, holding off the Highcroft Racing HPD ARX-01c by half a second. Chris Dyson drove the final two stints versus Highcroft’s Simon Pagenaud to score the victory with co-driver Guy Smith.
Pagenaud closed to the rear wing of the Lola-Mazda at the Keyhole with two laps remaining, but Dyson was able to pull away on the back straight. His Lola-Mazda took the lead on the final pit stop by taking fuel only, beating Highcroft and former race leader Intersport Racing out of the pits.
Despite taking four Michelins on his final stop, Pagenaud could not close the gap over the final hour. He re-started in second with just under ten minutes remaining after a third full-course caution period, but the Frenchman could not stay with the No. 16 Dyson entry outfitted for this race in Castrol colors.
“We double-stinted our Dunlops on that last stint,” said Dyson, “and the Mazda power was great on the straight.” The team is in its second season of racing the factory-backed Lola coupes under Mazda power developed by AER.
The HPD in Patron colors switched at mid-season to a more slippery aerodynamic configuration, which hampered starter David Brabham and Pagenaud on the twisty, technical Mid-Ohio circuit. “We are very happy with second place here,” said Pagenaud. “I think our car is better suited for the high-speed tracks like Road America and Mosport, so we are very well prepared.” Rules allow teams to make changes to aerodynamics via bodywork only once per season.
After the withdrawal of the Team Cytosport Porsche RS Spyder prototype following a crash by Greg Pickett in practice Thursday, the Highcroft duo extended their lead in the championship points.
Two other contenders fell by the wayside. Clint Field took the lead on the first lap for Intersport and then stayed in the team’s Lola-AER during the first round of pit stops. The younger Field maintained the lead until the final stop, but the driver exchange to father John Field left the team in third place once all the stops were complete. The car then suffered an engine problem and ended the two hour, 45-minute race 19 laps down.
The Lola-Judd of Drayson Racing immediately ran into trouble with team owner Lord Paul Drayson behind the wheel after pole winner Johnny Cocker was held back for the final half of the race. Drayson gave up the lead at the green and then went for a wild ride at Turn 1 two laps later. After losing a lap, Drayson put the Lola into the sand trap in Thunder Valley following contact with a GTC Porsche near the end of his stint.
In GT, the Risi Competizione Ferrari fought through traffic for much of the event after starting second before emerging with a victory by Gianmaria Bruni and Jaime Melo. The Risi team took just two left side tires on its final stop to vault past the No. 4 entry of Corvette Racing into third. On the re-start following the second full-course yellow, Melo got inside the No. 90 BMW M3 of Rahal Letterman Racing at the Keyhole, then edged past the No. 92 BMW of leader Bill Auberlen to take the lead.
Oliver Gavin advanced past both BMW’s, which took fuel only on the final pit stop, to move the No. 4 Covette up to second in class. Auberlen, who followed Tom Milner Jr. in the No. 92, gamely held on to third versus Jorg Bergmeister in the Flying Lizard Porsche GT3 RSR, which was followed home by Johannes van Overbeek/Scott Sharp in the Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari.
The result brought the Ferrari drivers back into the championship picture versus the defending champions Bergmeister and Patrick Long at Flying Lizard. After contact and a crash in the previous round at Lime Rock, Melo and Bruni failed to score points.
Christophe Bouchut and Level 5 Motorsports team owner Scott Tucker won the LMP Challenge category. Despite getting spun on the first lap of green, Black Swan Racing’s Tim Prappis and Jerome Bleekemolen won the GT Challenge for Porsche GT3 Cup machines.No Comment