Mid-Ohio: Thursday Notebook
Dyson Racing was out for the beginning of Thursday’s test session for the Acura Sports Car Challenge, only a day after receiving a brand new tub for its No. 16 Porsche RS Spyder. The car of Guy Smith and Chris Dyson was a write-off following a crash at last weekend’s American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park with one of Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Porsches.
|Dyson Porsche Spyder|
With only four days to get to Mid-Ohio, the Dyson crew do the usual pre-race setup work in the paddock and make repairs to the other Porsche of Butch Leitzinger and Marino Franchitti which had suspension damage after a late-race incident with a Penske Racing Porsche.
“The tub was delivered Wednesday to the track,” said a proud Dyson. “Our guys did a fantastic job of getting the car put together and ready. Porsche did an excellent job too of having the car and technicians here. We’re very glad to be back out and running again.”
BRINGING BACK MEMORIES: With all his accomplishments in an illustrious career, Gil de Ferran still is looking for his first Mid-Ohio win. The former Indianapolis 500 and CART champion hopes that becomes a reality this weekend in just the third race for de Ferran Motorsports.
De Ferran placed second and won pole positions in 2000 and 2001 at Mid-Ohio for Team Penske, now his chief rival in the Series’ LMP2 class. De Ferran and Simon Pagenaud will drive one of four Acura ARX-01b entries at Mid-Ohio. Also the team owner, de Ferran would like nothing more than to score Acura’s second straight overall Series victory at one of his favorite tracks, a week after Patr¢n Highcroft Racing won at Lime Rock.
“I’ve been saying since I started that these cars behave very similarly to open-wheel cars,” de Ferran said. “You learn to attack the track in nearly the same way. You take a lot of speed into the turns and braking what seems impossibly late in these cars.
“Acura has done a great job of improving the car this year,” he said. “The chassis is really well-balanced and really is a confidence-inspiring car. They also have done a good job on the engine, the traction control and some of the other little bits. Highcroft has done a fantastic job this year and we hope to be next. We’ve shown we have the speed. We haven’t had quite the luck yet.”
NO PLACE LIKE MID-OHIO: A vacation home in central Ohio just might sound appealing to Johannes van Overbeek. The Flying Lizard Motorsports pilot has won three GT2 races at Mid-Ohio since the team’s rookie season in 2004. Van Overbeek, last year’s Porsche Cup winner as the sport’s top independent Porsche driver, won here in 2004 with Darren Law, in 2006 with Wolf Henzler and last year with Jörg Bergmeister.
He’ll try to win with fourth different teammate - Patrick Pilet - in Saturday’s race. The duo sits third in the class championship but placed seventh at Lime Rock. But thanks to a class victory for teammates Bergmeister and Henzler, the Lizards lead the team championship.
“For some reason, luck has always been with us here,” van Overbeek said. “After what happened to us last week, I’m hoping we get some of that Mid-Ohio luck. Everyone is comfortable here. Every time you do well at a certain place, you show up the next time and feel really good about things.”
RISI’S FORTUNES: A third-place class finish at Lime Rock, the first race since a GT2 victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, may signal the start of an upward trend for Risi Competizione. Certainly it would be a welcomed development for the crew as well as drivers Mika Salo and Jaime Melo.
“We could have finished better at Lime Rock than third,” said Melo, who was third-fastest in Thursday’s GT2 test session at Mid-Ohio. “We just had a little bit more bad luck which was an improvement over other races. But that is the race. I can’t say that it has been a bad year, because we did win Le Mans. Hopefully we will continue to improve.”