Following a winter’s worth of testing and development, Bentley Team Dyson Racing is prepared for a full season of racing with the goal of bringing Bentley its first North American sporting title. In the course of a half-season in the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge, the team demonstrated the competitive potential of the Bentley Continental GT3 with front-row starts, a race win and two other podium finishes.
“Our goal last season was to assess the car, the series and the competition,” said Rob Dyson, the team’s founder and CEO. “It was clear from our first race weekend at Elkhart Lake, where Butch Leitzinger set the second-fastest lap in each race, that the car was good, the competition was keen, the races were hard-fought, and the series was very well run.” Dyson noted that a race win in the season’s final weekend at Miller Motorsports Park confirmed the car’s capabilities. “But we knew our competitors wouldn’t be standing still over the winter and we would need to focus our efforts on realizing more of the Continental GT3’s full potential.”
Dyson also announced that Butch Leitzinger will return for his 21st season with Dyson Racing, piloting the #20 car, while Chris Dyson, two-time American Le Mans series driver champion will return to full-time competition at the wheel of the #16 car. Together, Rob Dyson noted, the pair represents a formidable driver line-up. Chris Dyson won IMSA American Le Mans Series driver titles in 2003 and 2011, while finishing second in the series in 2005 and 2012. In his two-decade career with Dyson Racing, Leitzinger has won three championships, been runner-up four times and third twice. Among Leitzinger’s 34 victories for the team are two in the 24 Hours of Daytona. Leitzinger also finished second overall in the Bentley EXP-8 in the 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Chris Dyson found the Continental GT3 “impressive” during his first sessions in the car earlier this winter during test sessions in Sebring, FL. “I was very pleased with how much downforce the Bentley makes, particularly in high-speed corners,” said Dyson, comparing the production-based GT3 to the sports-prototypes in which he won his two ALMS titles. “GT3 cars are quite physical to drive, so I’ve been doing the same training I would do if I were driving an LMP (Le Mans Prototype) car,” he said.
Rob Dyson also noted that over the winter, the team had worked closely with Bentley Motorsport and technical partner M-Sport, who together develop and construct the Continental GT3 race cars, to better develop the car for the standing starts that are a unique feature of the Pirelli World Challenge.
“This is the only series that the Continental GT3 competes in where the race starts with all the cars standing still on the grid. So in 2014, it’s not surprising our competitors’ had more thoroughly developed launch-control software,” Dyson said, adding that because of the PWC’s sprint format, getting a good start is essential. “We were strong in qualifying, but we were getting out-raced to the first corner and with a race that lasts just 40 to 50 minutes and often on tracks where it’s tough to pass, that’s a not insignificant handicap.”
Chris Dyson added that he was confident he and Leitzinger would now be better able to match their competitors on the race starts. That’s an assessment that Leitzinger agrees with, expressing his eagerness for the new season to begin.
“Right from our first race last year it was so much fun,” Leitzinger said, in large part because “the Bentley was so good from the beginning. And it’s a really fun series to be in with lots of action. The driving level is good and people are tough and fair so you are able to really joust with people and enjoy the racing.”
The 2015 Pirelli World Challenge season begins at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX, March 6-8.