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Dyson Racing Three Day Test At Mosport
was at Mosport for testing this Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
(May 6-8). Both MG-Lola EXG257s were present, pounding around
on a full slate of tests. I arrived around 9:30 on Wednesday,
to meet Chris Dyson, James Weaver and Andy Wallace: I didn’t
see Butch Leitzinger until a little later in the morning. As
I arrived, Andy was just hopping out of the car and the mechanics
went to work adjusting and downloading data.
as soon as I arrived, the #16 car had what was termed a “small
water line problem,” and was hauled into the garage for
a little more extensive work. I was immediately dubbed the bad
luck charm by the team. Meanwhile, #20 was being fettled in its
really pleased with the data that we collected yesterday (Tuesday),” Chris
Dyson said. “We were able to get a lot of laps in, and
really test our Goodyear tires.” Wednesday’s program
involved more tire testing, engine testing, and endurance testing
for the newly installed / repaired power steering system.
asked him about the data collection process, and particularly
about whether Dyson Racing still had data from previous cars. “We
never had a data collection program per se; we would make modifications
on the car, and if the laps were faster, we assumed the adjustments
worked.” At the time, no wind tunnel work was carried out – it
was all strictly road work. While no tunnel work is currently
on the books, it hasn’t been ruled out for these cars;
data collection is currently pretty thorough, but extra control
is always welcomed when investigating specific aspects of aerodynamic
design. (I also implored him to keep the data for posterity;
he assured me they would. “We have our own digital cameras,
if you know what I mean.”)
While I looked
around the garage, the only thing I noticed that was potentially
new on #20 was the rear deck lid, which did not have the “Thetford” logo
on it at the side, as can be seen in Sebring photos. The driver
names were also missing, and the roll hoop was painted yellow.
My untrained eye could not spot any changes to the configuration,
though. As well, one of the nose pieces was missing its number,
which suggests aero tweaks at the front.
had a chance to speak to Andy, I asked him about his experience
with the Dome. He seemed genuinely happy with the Le Mans Test
Day, and to be reunited with Jan Lammers. He was also happy
with the Dome Judd. The chassis was pretty well-balanced, but
he didn’t find that out on his first flying lap – coming
through the Porsche curves on his out-lap, the car’s
front wheels would bounce a little. “Ah,” he thought, “this
car is a little bouncy.” But coming through the first
corners ‘on the fly’, the right front lifted, and
he realized that he’d had a puncture in the rear. He
then had to limp home a full lap.
thing he did have to say was that he was unhappy about the
power reduction due to the new restrictors (what driver isn’t?).
On the fan’s favourite subject of the chicanes on les
Hunadières, he opined that while he preferred the full
straight from a pure driving perspective, the potential for
punctures not revealing themselves until you’re at full
speed was greatly reduced by their introduction, and suggested
that, particularly with cars dragging what I gather is essentially
crushed rock from the gravel traps, the chicanes were necessary.
subject of aerodynamics, he said that the Dome, which hadn’t
been developed in the previous years, this year had an aero
program to evaluate and develop, and they found reductions
in drag and increases in downforce that amounted to a 15% increase
In the afternoon,
as I headed out to Moss corner, I watched Butch put some slow
laps in, and then start hammering out the hot ones. He was getting
smoother and smoother as the run went on, and really pushing
the tires to their limits. After about a half hour, you could
see a little wiggle as he hit the exit of the turn, which to
me said he was fully committed. You could hear the tires chirp
as he hit little bumps while turning in other corners, and the
bark of the turbo on every upshift was like a gunshot.
By the time
I made it back to the pits, the car had been out running for
about an hour, and it became apparent that this was a race simulation.
pit crew were getting nervous, and James was pacing, with his
helmet and gloves on. When Butch finally came in, it was a flurry
of activity, as the team went through a full pitstop. Butch’s
Nomex suit was fully saturated down his back, which showed how
hard he was working, given the air temperatures weren’t
much higher than about 15C.
proceeded to put down some hot laps, only to have to cut the
were getting wet; it appears that the newly replaced steering
system is just being bedded in, and the hydraulics still need
tweaking. It’s a steep curve for this system, but, as Andy
noted, “the standard electric system that everyone else
uses is currently too big for the car.”
In driver discussions,
I overheard Butch saying that he was sliding around a bit, particularly
in Moss corner. “Yes,” said James, “we know
all about you and turn 5.”
in his classic, head-down style...
I talked to
AER's Steve Dumelow about the engine developments, and he seemed
pretty happy with the data he was seeing during the test. Boost
numbers were comfortably below his threshold, and the behaviour
of the engine seemed to please the drivers. Steve felt that the
restrictors had robbed them of 50 horsepower, but I got the sense
that that situation was temporary.
I asked him
about how ‘his’ AER firm had ended up supplying the
Nissan engine to Multimatic for their LMP675 win at Le Mans in
2000, and he said it was through Lola, as AER has worked with
Lola for some time. He also expressed sadness that so many of
their SR2 engines were out there, ready to race, but with nowhere
At this point
in the afternoon, the #20 car was wheeled out, and Chris Dyson
got ready to turn some laps. He had earlier discussed this track
and its plethora of blind curves, and compared it to Ste Jovite
(the other original home of top-level racing in Canada). I was
surprised to learn that this track had more, and more drastic,
changes in elevation than the circuit built in the mountains.
He found this circuit plenty challenging, but with such experience
to learn from in his teammates, he was making a real go of it.
It would seem
that these tests were showing that their developments were helping
to overcome the loss of power due to the new restrictor. Last
year, the top race lap was 1:08.4; qualifying was 1:07.2 (both
by Audi R8s). 2003 Sebring qualifying suggests that Audi has
lost some overall speed (dropping from 1:48.0 to 1:48.8). Can
Audi afford any such loss this summer?
It was time
to test that new rear deck. The laptops were unplugged from the
car and plugged into the radio gantry, the car fired up, and
Chris headed out. All this technology to test such a petite machine;
it really boggles the mind, for a casual fan whose previous exposure
had never extended beyond the race weekend. James put it in perspective,
though: “All this expensive equipment, you could test without.
So long as you have a stopwatch, that’s all you need. It
tells you if your adjustments have worked. Have you found any