James Weaver & Chris Dyson
On That Dyson Racing 675 Win At Infineon Raceway

Regis Lefebure has an eye for what really happens out on the track. He was determined to find out what was happening in the cockpit – of the #16 Dyson Racing MG-Lola, at Infineon Raceway on July 27. James Weaver obliged, in that distinctive Weaver style with words – while Chris Dyson gives his view from outside the #16 car (actually in the #20, of course).

What an amazing victory... your car had certain advantages at Infineon Raceway, tell us about the run from turn seven down to eleven.

Turn seven to eleven is the fastest part of the track. Our car was very, very good from 7 to 11. Once you got into sixth gear, there's a very, very fast right-left-right before you get to the hairpin at 11. Our car was a lot quicker than the Audi through there, but the R8 was very good from 11 back to 7. They were faster on one side of the track and we were faster on the on the far side. What it boils down to is whether you got through nine and ten without traffic. If we had a clear lap through there we'd pull away from the Audi. If we didn't, then they could catch us up.

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Tell us about the pass on Werner, the final pass.

Well, it was one of those classic textbook passes. We set it up at turn seven, gave him a bit of room - because we'd been racing against him we knew what he could do - and got a good run at him, and just by sheer luck as I came out of ten I timed it perfectly because if you get too close, you get too much understeer and have to lift. As I came through ten, in sixth gear, probably - I don't know how fast we're going through there, probably 150 miles per hour - I was catching him hand over fist and I just managed to time it so I didn't lose all my aero off the front, and drove straight past him. If you tried it another twenty times, I don't think it'd be all that jammy. It just worked perfectly.

You literally flew by him - it was incredible, the rate of speed at which you went by him in the braking area.

We were probably rolling through the corner previous to that at a good ten miles per hour faster (than the Audi). He got on the brakes probably two car lengths before me, maybe three car lengths, so at the point I got on the brakes I was probably going past him thirty miles per hour faster.

He squeezed you a little bit...

That's perfectly legitimate. He almost did it enough. But he left it a fraction late. If he had gotten another foot over, a fraction of a second sooner, I wouldn't have been able to get by. But when you get too far down the inside, then you can't make the corner yourself and you look a complete wally as you get onto the marbles and the other person just drives round the inside of you, so it's not as easy as it looks to defend yourself in that situation.

Did he realistically have a chance of passing you back?

I got held up coming past the pits one lap and was very slow up the hill to two and he got sort of half-alongside me but you know, unless he hit me he couldn't have got past. He tried really hard and when he knew he couldn't make it he got up on the kerb and got out of the way, so fair play, good effort on his part. I didn't get held up quite enough for him to be able to make it stick. Luckily!

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How would you rate Marco Werner’s performance?

We don't really know enough to get an idea of what he has done, but watching him at Sebring, Atlanta, and Sears Point, he is obviously extremely quick. He's at a disadvantage in that he doesn't know some of the circuits, but he seems to learn - when he does learn them he learns very quickly. Joest doesn't let lunatics drive his cars. I am sure he's got the drive because he is more than good enough

Has the electric power steering in the Lola helped in terms of steering feel or is it more a reliability issue?

It's mainly reliability and weight. It is lighter than the hydraulic system. If it fails, you can still turn the wheel, but with a hydraulic system, if it failed, you're trying to push the oil through the orifices, and you can't do it.

And that is what happened at Sebring?

Yea, once it fails you just cannot turn the wheel. You'd probably rip the steering wheel from the car before you could turn the wheels.

(to Chris Dyson) Did you get the shift paddle fixed? (It had snapped in practice at Trois-Rivieres the day before this interview)

Yes. We fabricated it back together. It was just fatigue, it will be part of our rotation from here on.

It wasn't too much muscle?

James said I had too much Shredded Wheat at breakfast... it broke on a downchange

How much of the car's potential have you realized, where was it when you started and where is it now?

dailysportscar.com(James) It was clearly a very fast car but the big problem we had was if you respect the aerodynamic criteria or the aero map on the car - when you set the car up in Europe you really can't go wrong. But when you come to America, some of the enormous differences - different levels of grip, the shape of the road, the concrete patches, it's very much more complicated, and the tracks are bumpier. And in some of the places we are going to, the winters are really bad and the tracks are constantly heaving, so, trying to get the car to run over the slow bumpy coners and work at high speed is much more difficult. It took us three or four months of careful work to get on top of, and now, going to Sears point and Trois-Rivieres, both circuits we haven't tested at, we've been quick straight out of the box.

That careful work, is that suspension work, shock setup?

Primarily we modified the aero a bit but the biggest thing we've done - Lola has helped us with the aero, and we've worked hard on the AER engine, we've mapped the engine to match the engine characteristics to the chassis - but the biggest thing we've done has been working with Goodyear: they've been absolutely fantastic, they've helped us out no end, they've built us tyres specifically to suit this car, and we can't thank them enough, because if it wasn't for all their input you'd never get the suspension sorted out unless it matches the tyres, and they've done a brilliant job understanding what the cars wants and building tyres to suit it. They really have.

dailysportscar.com(Chris) Last year my dad correctly said that Goodyear was going to make the difference as to whether this car would win races overall - and they've done it. We've put an enormous amount of effort in, ourselves personally, but Goodyear has risen to the occasion and you can see not only with us but with the Corvettes - we've both made huge gains. And it’s only better for the series - you've got a tyre war and you've got different marques competing - it's good for everyone.

(James) Goodyear has always been extremely open and helpful to us. I don't know how many races Dyson have won on Goodyears... forty or fifty, probably? Six or seven championships? You know, Goodyear are lovely people to work with. Historically in America, if you want a tyre that's extremely good to drive on, good over the bumps, and consistent, Goodyear has been consistently the class of the field. In the old GTP days everybody used to be on Goodyears. I think with the American Le Mans Series, all the big manufacturers from Europe have come over and they've been on European tyres. So it is nice to see the "home team" stamp their authority on it.

In terms of history - the win - do you have any reflection on what the win means to the series and to sportscar racing?

It’s interesting you ask that because we've just been chatting about it. To put it in perspective, Dyson Racing is essentially twelve guys from Poughkeepsie, upstate New York, and we've got a truck and we just fill it up with bits and we go racing. And General motors with Cadillac spent three years trying to beat Audi and couldn't do it and gave up. And what do you think General Motors have at their disposal, and they can't beat Audi? Yet Rob Dyson can put a team together and can do it. I think that really puts it in perspective. But having said that, I'll be the first to say we've got some fantastic suppliers, and that’s where we've always been very, very lucky. Whether it's Goodyear, Penske for dampers, AER with their motors doing a good job, or Lola doing an excellent job on the aero for us. So we are very, very fortunate we've got not only great suppliers but ones who can act very quickly, and that's been one of the problems Cadillac have in that it takes far too long to react, whereas a small team, you can chop or change, do as need must, much easier - I think!

In terms of history obviously it is a land mark event - a 675 beating the 900s... maybe in ten years we will have a better handle on what it all means...

dailysportscar.comI think it was a great day for sportscar racing, because it was a classic IMSA race, and a sprint from the last yellow to the flag, and it was a straight fight. All the pits stops, everything that happened before then, that was just, you know, like chess, it was just starting off. And then it was, like, "what have you got? what can you do?" and I like to think we beat them in a straight fight. It wasn't like we lucked into it, or they had problems. It was a great win, because even if they'd won, whoever won it was going to be great win, because it was such a tight fight.

(Chris) it was a good hard fight to the end. We've raced with Joest in the eighties with the Porsches and we've always been competitive with them. So we figured once we had a car we could take a swing at 'em with, we could go for it. And now we've done it, we've proved it. We need to do it again. The Audi R8 is still fantastic. It is the standard-bearer.

(James) I suppose it depends on what the consequences of that (the Lola win) are, how much Joest can ramp up their game. We have got a lot of stuff on-screen, so we…..potentially we are going to get stronger and stronger. It depends on what they've got waiting in the wings. We'll see if we can stay on top of them or whether they will swamp us. Whatever happens we will give a good account of ourselves.

Will we see Pat Smith again in the Dyson pit?

No - he was sixty on Wednesday after Sears Point and he said all along that he's been racing all that time and when he got to sixty he was going to retire. We are all sad to see him go. He's been a wonderful crew chief for Rob, he's been a fantastic friend to me. And I know I would not have enjoyed anything like the success I've had at Dyson if it hadn't have been for Pat. He's just a lovely bloke, fabulously good at what he does. He'll be sadly missed but we all wish him a very happy retirement. He deserves it. He's worked really hard over the years and racing burns you out, you cannot keep doing it.

Did you get any reaction from him regarding the win?

Yeah the normal Pat - "You were lucky." I said "yeah we were a bit lucky there with that second yellow," because we sort of dropped back a bit, but we got going again, we beat them fair and square, and he said yeah that is all that matters.

What happened after the second yellow?

We dropped back - we had a twenty second lead, which we lost under the yellow, and then I don't know what happened after that - on the restart for some reason I got stuck in traffic, so I was then twenty seconds behind, then there was another yellow, and I was third in the queue. So again, it was IMSA racing - you had a twenty second lead, then you lost it, they had a twenty second lead and lost it, then it was back to a straight fight again. But Pat was right- if it we hadn't had that second yellow they would have beaten us. Unless they ran out of fuel, and they must have been getting fairly tight, they must have been running on fumes. Without that last yellow, I don't know if they would have made it.

A Weaver pole at Mosport, maybe?

I'd love to be on pole at Mosport. Hopefully I will get a chance to qualify at Mosport. When we tested there the car was staggering. We could go through turn one flat, which was pretty spectacular. It is going to open a lot of eyes... we've got more aero on the car, we have got a better setup on the car, we've got new tyres, so the car should be devastating around Mosport.

How is turn four?

It's - it's easy flat.

What, about 150 mph? Dindo Capello said last year they were doing about 150 through there in the Audi R8.

A bit more than that I think, about 155, but the problem is you have to stop at the bottom of the hill (laughter all around) It's a shame there is not a long straight after that because you go wailing around it and " that was fun" and you want to sit there and enjoy it but as soon as you come out you have to put your foot on the brake!

Thank you, James and Chris for a job well done at Infineon Raceway. Good luck at Mosport.
Regis Lefebure

 

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