28 July 2003
Dyson takes historic first win for LMP675.
The Dyson Racing team scored its first-ever win in the American Le Mans Series - and the first for an LMP675 prototype - with an exciting, come-from-behind victory in the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sears Point.
James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger not only gave team owner Rob Dyson his first ALMS win, but made history as the first drivers to score an overall win with an LMP 675 car, as they took their blue-and-white Lola EX257-MG from pole to victory lane.
Frank Biela and Marco Werner finished second overall and first in the LMP 900 class in the Infineon Team Joest Audi R8, while round two winner Johnny Herbert made an exciting last-lap pass to take third place for himself and Champion Racing team-mate JJ Lehto, beating the Doran Lista Dallara-MG of Bill Auberlen and Didier Theys. Olivier Beretta and Gunnar Jeannette finished fifth in the JML Team Panoz.
Though the Dyson team has been one of North America's most successful sports car racing teams of the past 15 years, the team had not won a race in the ALMS since the series was formed in 1999. Team owner Rob Dyson invested in the new Lola-MG machine last year with the goal of scoring overall wins, as well as class wins.
''I'm sure it was exciting,'' said Leitzinger, ''and I think this win is a very good thing for sportscar racing. This class was formed to give the privateer teams like Dyson a way to take on the big factory teams - and we've just proven the vision for the sport. For a team like Dyson to be able to put up a fight is good for the sport overall.''
Scott Atherton, president and CEO of the American Le Mans series, agreed.
''This is a very significant and historical occasion for the American Le Mans Series,'' he said, ''Our most sincere congratulations go out to Rob Dyson and all of the members of his team for what they have accomplished. They worked very hard with testing and development of the car and this is their reward.
''When the ACO introduced this class of car a few years ago, they had the vision that with the right set of circumstances - the right team, right drivers, right track - that the LMP675 could compete head-to-head with the LMP900. We saw today that the ACO had the correct vision, because this was one of the most exciting and competitive races in sportscar racing history - not just for the overall win, but also for the class wins. This bodes well not only for the rest of the 2003 season, but also for the future of the American Le Mans Series.''
Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell won the GTS class in the factory Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, barely edging the second factory Corvette of Oliver Gavin and Kelly Collins. The win was the third consecutive in ALMS competition at Infineon Raceway for O'Connell and Fellows.
''It was a great fight,'' Fellows said, ''The cars were evenly matched - there were places where they were better and places where we were better. It was a great, great race - this is a great race track to have this kind of fight. It's tricky and then you throw in the traffic and it's like high-speed chess.''
David Brabham and Jan Magnussen, making their debut in the Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello, finished third in the GTS class.
Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr won the GT class in the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS, with Luhr snatching the lead from fellow Alex Job Racing driver Timo Bernhard on the next-to-last lap. The Porsche of Bernhard and Jorg Bergmeister finished second, .524 second behind, with third place going to the Risi Competizione Ferrari 360 Modena of Ralf Kelleners and Anthony Lazzaro.
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