Spirits were high in the Dyson Racing camp heading into the weekend at Mid-Ohio. Both Dyson Bentleys were very fast during the previous event at the Road America and they believed that could do it again for Rounds 14 and 15 of the Pirelli World Challenge.
Dyson Racing had made some adjustments to their cars heading into the weekend that they thought would have them well suited for the track. Unfortunately their competitors were just as fast and the Bentleys qualified 8th and 12th for Round 14 on Saturday. “We’re a bit disappointed with the results of qualifying,” said Rob Dyson, team founder and CEO. “I expected our cars would be in the top five.”
Once again the World Challenge had to enact their full course yellow procedure for when a car fails to launch cleanly during the standing start. This time, like at Road America, it was due to Butch Leitzinger’s #20 Bentley. The Bentley didn’t stall, but it did hesitate enough to bring out the flag. Because he caused the full course yellow, he would be penalized two spots on the start of Sunday’s race.
As the race went back to green, Leitzinger and Dyson had switched places and the #16 Bentley was in 11th, with the #20 car in 20th. Both drivers were fast, but found it difficult to get through traffic.
With 39 minutes to go, Leitzinger spun and found himself stuck near the pit entrance. It took some time to get the car turned around and back on pace, but he did so without causing further damage. Thankfully a full course yellow was avoided but the #20 car would go down a lap.
20 minutes later, with 21 minutes to go, Chris Dyson got into the back of Andy Pilgrim’s Cadillac ATS-V, spinning the Caddy into a sand trap. Both cars were damaged and a full course yellow would come out while Pilgrim’s car was retrieved.
Although Dyson picked up a place when Pilgrim dropped back, he also lost a lot of down force on the front left of the Bentley and he was then passed by two other cars and finished eleventh. The damage to the #16 Bentley would keep the crew busy late into the night to get it ready for Sunday.
Leitzinger ended up putting down the 2nd fastest lap time of the race on Saturday keeping hopes high for Round 15. He would start fourth on the grid after a penalty was assessed. Dyson started in eleventh.
Sunday’s race began with another failed start. This time Dyson’s Bentley stuttered along with an Audi R8 that didn’t move on the green light. Chris drops to 23rd after stalled start. 5 minutes (10% of the race!) were lost while the R8 was towed off the track.
As Dyson was working through traffic at the back, Leitzinger was running with the lead group in sixth position.
For the second race in a row, things went south for him quickly. A full course yellow was caused by a Porsche that had spun into the sand trap. On the restart, the Porsche of Michael Lewis got into the back of Butch and put him into the wall.
“It was just a racing incident,” Leitzinger later said. “Michael came over after the race and apologized, and I know it wasn’t his fault.”
Finished P6 today but got a 40sec penalty for contact. Was really trying to avoid it & I sincerely apologize. Didn’t want to pass like that.
— Michael James Lewis (@MJLRacing_) August 2, 2015
Round 15 ended with a 14th place for Chris Dyson and a 24th place for Butch Leitzinger. Chris Dyson maintains sixth place in drivers points, Bentley remains in 5th place in the manufacturer’s championship.
After Sunday, the team’s CEO discussed the weekend’s results. “We got caught out twice this weekend by our starting-line launch control system,” Rob Dyson said. “We’ve done a lot of testing with it between races, but we’re going to have to work harder with our partners at Bentley to get to where the competition is.”
Bentley Team Dyson will be in action again at Miller Motorsports Park on August 21-23. Miller was the scene of Bentley Team Dyson Racing’s first Pirelli World Challenge victory last season.