Driver-manager Chris Dyson has described the reunion between Dyson Racing and Lola in the American Le Mans Series as being like a homecoming, after getting behind the wheel of one of the two Mazda-powered Lola B09/86 coupés that will be run in the LMP2 class during the 2009 season.
The announcement that Dyson and Lola are to renew a relationship that previously ended in 2006 marks the first time Dyson Racing will have fielded a closed-top prototype in the championship, although some of the squad's greatest moments came back in the 1980s with Porsche's 962 GTP.
Dyson took to the track in one of the Lola-Mazda coupés at Sebring International Raceway earlier this week, with the team planning for more track time during ALMS' annual Winter Test on 26-28 January.
“Truthfully there's almost no adjustment,” remarked Dyson, driver as well team VP and sporting director. “When I first took the car out, the 'out' lap was a little unusual, [but] once you go out of the pits and start a serious run there is little difference. Lola has done a really good job with the car, and aerodynamically it's probably the best I've driven.
“I feel really confident with how we've progressed in the off-season programme. We started a little late, but the main components of the programme have been running for a couple of years. Everyone is very favourable [about] the car and the crew feels comfortable. So far the running we have done is very constructive.”
From 2002 to 2006, Dyson Racing campaigned Lola prototypes in both prototype classes in the American Le Mans Series. It triumphed nine times in class with Lola's AER-powered EX257, including five overall victories.
“[The new P2 coupe] applied the lessons learned from previous cars,” added Dyson, who won the 2003 LMP675 title in a Lola. “We have a huge book on the technical details of the Lola family of cars over the last several years. The [Lola-Mazda] package has shown some really promising moments.
“Mazda had made the commitment to the Lola coupé platform because it was providing a boost forward. It was a decision based on the performance and marketing appeal. You can't over-estimate how evocative coupés are to the enthusiasts and laymen alike. When you see a closed-top car it takes your breath away. It looks like it is going 200mph standing still.
“Coupés really occupy a special place in a fan's heart; they have a special place in my heart for certain. Our fans I think have a greater appreciation of our history than a lot of other groups. This really does make for a terrific show.”
Dyson Racing's prototype is one of 14 cars entered for the Winter Test. The 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is the opening event on the 2009 ALMS calendar, and will take place from 18-21 March.