SEBRING, FL March 21, 2009 – The BP Mazda Dyson Racing team put in 103 hours in six days of preparation for the 57th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring. Talking to the team before the season opening race of the American Le Mans Series, team owner Rob Dyson said he had never seen such a focused effort in all of his years of racing. He and Mazda were very proud of the team’s efforts to prepare the two new LMP2 Mazda Lola Coupes for America’s premier endurance race.
Unfortunately, racing can just as easily disown hard work as reward it. The #16 car of Chris Dyson, Guy Smith, and Andy Lally retired after five hours of running and the #20 entry with Butch Leitzinger, Marino Franchitti, and Ben Devlin went out fifteen minutes later with unrelated mechanical issues. The #20 BP sponsored entry was running second in LMP2 and the sister car was third in class when the problems occurred. The race marked the Dyson Racing debut of Ben Devlin in the Mazda Lola Coupe.
The Dyson cars qualified second and third in class for the Florida classic on Thursday. The drivers reiterated their pre-season enthusiasm for the new 2009 package during the race. Leitzinger, fourteen years as a Dyson driver, said “I am running at a very easy pace and everything feels good on the car,” and Franchitti affirmed that view and said on the radio that “the chassis is fantastic.”
Chris Dyson was philosophical about the result. Admitting that he was frustrated at not being able to challenge for the win at the end, he was quick to note that “this week has been a very productive time for us. The hours here have been well spent as there is no tougher environment to sort out a new car than the runways of Sebring. We took a conservative approach to the week. We know the car has more speed in it and we will go to St. Petersburg in two weeks time well positioned in our knowledge base for the rest of the season.”
Mazda is the brand choice of road racers across North America. On any given weekend, there are more Mazdas on the road-race-tracks of America than any other brand. You will see MX-5 Miata, RX-8, MAZDA3, MAZDA6, RX-7 and other vintage Mazda models because every Mazda has the Soul of a Sports Car.