Team Chat – Chris Dyson
A More Personal Look Inside the Team.
With the American Le Mans Series taking a six-week break before its next race at Salt Lake City, this is a good time for teams to look back and assess their performance to date. This is the first of periodic interviews with Dyson Racing principals and drivers to give a more personal look inside the team.
How does a team deal with the range of emotions like Dyson Racing experienced at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this past weekend?
“The hardest thing about racing is keeping things on an even keel. It’s such an emotionally-driven sport, but ultimately it comes down to the very unemotional realms of physics and engineering. Like any team sport, you must always concentrate on the positives coming out of any race weekend. Good or bad, there is always something to learn and take away. Realistically, you look at where Dyson Racing was two years ago and where we were with the Mazda program even a year ago, we’ve made huge strides. If you had asked anyone how competitive they thought we would be this early in the season, I think none of us would have imagined that we would be fighting as hard against Highcroft as we did all day last Saturday. All of us to a man were thrilled to have a car that was a weapon all weekend. We fought a hard race and everyone executed extremely well. This is a sport where you dwell on what is coming – and what is coming for us is the Salt Lake City race. And that is our primary focus right now. You can be sure that everyone is walking around with more spring in their step knowing that we have a car that can take it right to the opposition.”
Where you expecting to win the pole for only the second race of the combined prototype classes?
“I think that Mazda Raceway is a unique track where the drag and horsepower relationship is not as critical as at other tracks. If you look at the results of the past several years at Mazda Raceway, the lighter, higher downforce cars have always done well versus the bigger P1 cars. That is mainly because there are no real straights where drag or horsepower is a limiting factor. We were confident that if the tires worked well (and they did work very well), that we were going to be in the game all weekend. Sure enough, right off the truck, the car was fantastic. It will be interesting to see how things play out between the lighter and heavier cars in Salt Lake City. I think a lighter and smaller car may have an advantage at tighter tracks like Mid-Ohio and Lime Rock, but at tracks like Mosport, Road America and the Petit Le Mans, the P1 cars will have an advantage because of the long straights and their horsepower advantage.”
How does Dyson Racing’s thirty years of experience help to keep things in perspective?
“All of our experience has taught us there are no fairy tales in racing and the world owes you nothing. You have to work hard for everything and rise to the occasion. Yes, we did not get the result we felt we had earned last weekend, and that was disappointing.
But on bright side, as a team, we have not had a weekend like Mazda Raceway since2005, where we often had the quickest car off the truck and were fastest in every session and in race trim. That is something we have really worked hard on the last couple of years, to try to put ourselves back in that position. The way I look at it, it is ona matter of time before we start winning races again and that is real raison d’entre for Dyson Racing.
Our partners – Mazda, BP, AER, Dunlop and Lola, have all rolled up their sleeves year. We all sense the victories are right around the corner. When you have a situation where you know you are capable of winning, it hurts when you don’t convert it to a result. But you have just that much more confidence for the rest of the year. It is a great feeling to be back at the razor’s edge of the grid.”
How does it feel to be competitive at the top of the field compared to in class?
“I think everyone gets more satisfaction out of overall race wins, which is why I am happy that the American Le Mans Series went back to more of an equivalency formula between the bigger and smaller cars. I think it is more interesting when you have that kind of variety competing for the same prize because you have different threads, different stories to tell. IMSA has done a good job bringing the cars back to racing on even terms. They are going to have to massage it during the course of the year, but it is great to come out knowing that when you have won pole or won a race, you have beaten everybody, and that is what we are shooting for this year.”
What kind of fan feedback did you get after takingthe pole at Mazda Raceway?
“What is so great about the Mazda platform is that the brand has so many dedicated followers. Mazda owners are a very passionate lot and they give us so much support aevery event. You also have the fans who love our racecar and the way the Lola looks and the people who like to cheer for the fastest car on the grid. It is great to have the backing of all these groups when you are standing at the top. The view is good and it is energizing to feel the appreciation of the race fans. It is also very humbling because you know how much work it takes to get to that point and how fleeting it can be. I never take it for granted.”