Bentley Team Dyson Racing was in Ontario, Canada this weekend for the Pirelli World Challenge at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, which is commonly referred to by its previous name: Mosport. Dyson is back up to two Bentley Continental GT3’s after being down a car after the #20 was severely damaged at Long Beach. For this weekend, the #16 car was driven by Chris Dyson and the #20 car was driven by Butch Leitzinger.
Coming in to the weekend, Leitzinger talked about having to sit out the last Pirelli World Challenge event. “It was tough being at Barber and not driving. But I wanted to be there with the team. I’m really pleased that my car is ready to race again and grateful to everyone on the crew who put in an extra effort to get it back together. I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel and justify all their hard work.”
The #20 Continental GT3 needed more than just some small repairs. After being rear ended and shoved into the wall at Long Beach, the car needed an extreme amount of work. The it took to do the repairs prevented it from participating at the subsequent race at Barber. According to the team’s manager Mike White, the parts of the chassis where the suspension attaches were moved several inches and twisted out of shape as well.
White said that the team looked into getting a new tub from England, but didn’t have enough time to receive it and bold everything back on in time for Mosport. Instead, they opted to repair the damaged car. It was taken to a high-quality collision repair facility with a frame machine where the tub of the car could be pulled back into its original shape. A 3D computer measuring machine called a FARO Arm, was brought in to measure the car precisely to ensure it was repaired correctly. With the help of a set of coordinates from the Continental GT3’s developer and the FARO Arm, it took five days to repair the chassis.
The repaired car arrived back at Dyson Racing last Friday. The #20 car needed to be reassembled and ready to leave by Tuesday to make it Toronto in time, which didn’t give the team much time. “At one point over the weekend there were nine technicians working directly on the car at the same time,” White said. “But seeing the transporters leave for Canada early Tuesday morning with two great potentially race-winning race cars on board, I think made all the hard work worthwhile.”
It was worthwhile as both cars qualified well. Saturday’s race began under a moving start, which is unique in the Pirelli World Challenge. Once underway, the #20 car battled in the lead pack the entire race, but couldn’t quite get past the McLaren of Kevin Estre. Dyson was also near the leaders in fifth place when the race entered its second lengthy full course yellow after a Porsche spun out of control and damaged the tire wall.
The tire wall was repaired with only one lap remaining in the timed event. Both Bentleys had good starts when the green flag dropped, but Leitzinger in the #16 wouldn’t get an opportunity to advance from third place. Dyson in the #20 car was squeezed towards the pit wall by the Ferrari 458 Italia of Olivier Beretta. The Ferrari would bounce off the Bentley losing fourth place and finishing in seventh. Meanwhile Dyson was awarded the “Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race” trophy for his move and would finish in fourth.
Sunday’s race went back to the standing start format we’re used to from the Pirelli World Challenge. Based on Saturday’s fastest lap times, the two Bentleys started fourth and fifth in the field. After a clean start, the Bentley’s settled in fifth and sixth places with Dyson following Leitzinger. The top six cars were keeping fairly close to each other for the first fifteen minutes until the race had its first full course yellow for a stalled car. Spectators were glad to see this particular caution because a lap earlier the tow truck was trying to cross the track to fetch the stalled car just as the leaders came around the corner. Race leader Johnny O’Connell was maybe a second away from having his progress affected by the truck.
Upon the restart, the lead three cars, the Ferrari 458, the McLaren, and the Cadillac ATS driven by O’Connell started to pull away from the pack until the Ferrari bumped into the McLaren and the Nissan GTR. All three cars involved would drop back. The result was the Cadillac was out in front by himself with a three second lead over the two Bentleys.
Leitzinger chose this time to lay down the fastest time of the race as he closed the gap between his Continental GT3 and the Cadillac. With 24 minutes remaining in the 50 minutes race, Leitzinger was really putting the pressure on O’Connell. Spectators were glad to see the race avoid any more yellow flags and the cars were able to race each other to the finish. And it was spectacular racing. Leitzinger made several moves to get by the Cadillac, but wasn’t able to do it.
Sunday’s race and it’s thrilling finish were fun to watch. Especially for Leitzinger and O’Connell, whose car had burned to the ground at the last race. It was great to see these two teams come back with race leading cars and compete so hard. In the end, O’Connell would win both of this weekends events and Leitzinger would get a second and a third place. In addition to his clean pass trophy, Chris Dyson would get to the podium with a third place in Sunday’s race.
The Pirelli World Challenge next heads to Detroit, MI for the Belle Isle Grand Prix on May 29th.
Additional News Source: Dyson Racing