Dyson Racing’s Restart
Dyson Racing’s Restart
The official schedule says that this is the third race of the 2013 American Le Mans Series. But for Dyson Racing, the 2011 ALMS P1 champions, the season essentially starts here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
After problems at Sebring and Long Beach, the Dyson Team and co-drivers Chris Dyson and Guy Smith look to start making up lost ground here at Mazda’s home track.
The Dyson Lola is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged Mazda MRZ-R engine prepared by Advanced Engine Research (AER).
One of the most successful and popular teams in American sports car history, the Poughkeepsie, New York-based Dyson Racing squad is built on a strong foundation of experience and continuity. Several key team members have been with the team more than 20 years. Team manager Michael White is in his 18th season with the blue and white.
That longevity is invaluable in quickly returning the team to championship form.
In 2012, Dyson struggled with a competitor’s massive “ultra wide” front tire package. Dyson changed shoes for 2013, returning to Michelin after a three-year stretch, for its popular Lola Mazda.
That is not a minor change. Changing tires means re-establishing the car’s set-up. “We use our experience to work out suspension geometry, aerodynamics, kinematics and driver inputs,” said Dyson car chief Vince Wood. “The tire talks to the car. As you build your understanding, you get a knock-on effect and can be more confident in making bigger and bigger changes.”
“You always drive to the minimum available level of grip and that is how you edge up on the limit,” said Chris Dyson. “I think you know pretty quickly what the tire likes and how it builds its grip and how it accepts loads.”
“The tires are symmetrical now and the fundamentals are all very good,” continued Dyson. “The tires are very stiff, very robust and durable. The grip is very progressive, it is not peaky and over the course of a fuel tank run, you are not really worried about degradation. That was our experience when we were running the Michelins the last time (2009) and it is nice to know that some things have not changed.”
Taking on this level of competition is a tall order. Dyson goes up against archrivals Muscle Milk Pickett Racing with 2012 champions Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf and the 2012 FIA World Endurance Champions from Rebellion Racing with F1 veterans Nick Heidfeld and Neel Jani.
Still, despite limited track time, the Dyson Lola was impressively quick in Long Beach qualifying as Guy Smith qualified second.
The hilly 2.238-mile circuit here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca has brought success for the Dyson team in recent years. Smith has captured the pole in each of the past two seasons and the team clinched the ALMS manufacturer, team and driver championships here in 2011.
Rob and Chris Dyson have built a winning racing team that has endured many challenges bigger than a few tough races. They became one of the most successful teams in American racing and have continued that success because, over the test of time, they have consistently done what winners do. They win.