And so, job done, it's time to look ahead to what will be a banner year for sports car racing globally – the Rolex 24 at Daytona celebrates its 50th anniversary and the new FIA World Endurance Championship has as its centerpiece the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in its 80th running. So could Dyson Racing embark on an ambitious worldwide sports car campaign in 2012?
Daytona is the first major off-season decision. The team has run there only sporadically since the Grand-Am Daytona Prototype era began in 2003. If it were solely a decision of the heart, however, Rob Dyson would return in a beat.
“We've been discussing it, but the problem is, the rules are changing so much, and with brand-new cars coming out, I think the issue will be having the right car and right combinations,” he hints. “We'd have to test and get the cars perfected. But, of course, I'd love to do it; I've done 18 and would love to say I did 20.”
Rob's enthusiasm is tempered by the reality of cost versus return on investment, as Chris Dyson explains.
“We worked very hard to get a car at the Rolex 24 this year, and we got close but not close enough,” Chris admits. “We don't want to spread too thin in other forms of motorsport. Time is very often shorter than you think.”
In contrast, winning the ALMS title has earned Dyson its first-ever invitation to Le Mans. On the surface, it makes sense to act on it, but it's a bigger challenge than just saying, “Yes, please.”
“We've consistently focused on the domestic championship, primarily because it's a lot of effort just to do that,” Rob admits. “Doing Le Mans is a big bite. It's an incredible logistical effort and a fairly substantial financial investment. That's what has prevented us; it's hard
to move everything as a small team. I'm not saying we'll never do it. We continually examine it.”
And it's not just an issue of finance, either, but also potential reward. How competitive can a gasoline-powered car be there? An ACO bulletin issued after Petit Le Mans should force a power reduction of around seven percent for diesels in 2012. However, previous performance balancing adjustments have proven largely futile and oil-burners have maintained a pure pace advantage at Le Mans since 2006.
So performance, not just finance, plays a large part in the Dysons' decisions regarding the world famous enduro.
“It depends on how we can make our car fit under the ACO rules,” says Chris. “Le Mans remains a long-stated goal, but only under the right circumstances. We would have to have a chance per the rules to compete for overall victory.”
And so defending a hard-won ALMS title is the team's primary objective for 2012. Dyson looks to maintain its current two-car status and could potentially add a third, provided the right funding and opportunity present themselves – much as they did for Al Masaood and Kane in 2011. The rookies' perfomances impressed most observers and leaves Rob with an ALMS-based dream.
“In an ideal situation, next year's final race would see our two cars running against each other for the championship!”
And, after this last season, who would bet against that?
• For the full version of this feature article, plus much more, check out the December 2011 issue of RACER magazine, which is NOT available on newsstands. CLICK HERE to subscribe.