Infineon: Dyson pair make history

James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger confirmed that yesterday's pole position was the real deal by taking a hard-fought victory with Rob Dyson's Lola EX257/MG in the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma over the 2.53-mile Sears Point circuit at Infineon Raceway

Infineon: Dyson pair make history

On a brilliantly sunny afternoon, a crowd of between 25-30,000 fans witnessed a day filled with close racing in all classes. They also saw history being made as an American Le Mans Series race was won overall by a two-litre P675 class car for the first time.

Exploiting the advantage of their more nimble machine over the twisty and challenging Northern California circuit, Weaver and Leitzinger lost the lead only during pit stops, and ended with a 3.708s margin over the Joest/Infineon Audi R8 of Frank Biela and Marco Werner, winners of the P900 class.

Johnny Herbert and JJ Lehto finished third overall, second in P900, as Herbert - in the final moments of a remarkable drive back from a lap down - made a spectacular last-turn, last-lap pass of Bill Auberlen driving Kevin Doran's Lista Dallara/MG (Judd) alongside Didier Theys, to claim the position.

"At the beginning of the year, when we looked at all the tracks, this one was the one we knew we had to get out act together for," explained Leitzinger, "because the car really seems to shine on medium to high-speed corners like we have here. It was one of those weekends when everything goes right."

Team-mate Weaver, who passed Werner for the win with 15 laps to go, noted that they had nevertheless been fortunate. "Yes, we were quick, but I think we were very lucky with a couple of the yellows."

When the third of the race's four full-course yellows came out on lap 75, Weaver nipped into the pits for a splash of fuel and a new right-front Goodyear as the field closed up behind the pace car. Although he retained his second place, he did lose some track position to lapped cars. When the green flew again he set about reeling in Werner, finally passing for the win with a breathtaking out-braking manoeuvre into the Turn 11 hairpin.

"Joest is the best team ever in sports car racing," acknowledged Weaver, "and it is great for us to be able to go head to head with them - and beat them."

Werner and Biela had to content themselves with second overall, even though they did win the P900 class. "Their car was as fast as we suspected, and that last (sic) yellow was good for them. They put on new rubber and it was impossible to hold him off."

Co-driver Werner concurred. "We probably had one too many yellows today."
Although the GTS results looked fairly familiar with Corvettes finishing one-two and Ferraris three-four, with qualifying scrambling the grid order, winners Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell had to climb through the field after starting 27th. Both Prodrive Ferraris were delayed by contact incidents and a couple of spins, so the race came down to a duel between Fellows and polesitter Oliver Gavin that culminated in a traffic-aided pass on the last restart.

A similar story unfolded in the GT class, as Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen (Job/McKenna Porsche 911 GT3RS) claimed (another) victory despite having to start at the back after the confused qualifying session. With two laps to go Luhr was chasing down his team car, driven by Timo Bernhard.

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