FIA WEC: Toyota wins again in Shanghai

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Toyota Racing has gone 1-2 yet again in the latest round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, at the Six Hours of Shanghai.

As they did in Fuji, the No. 8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid of Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi led home the sister No. 7 entry of Kazuki Nakajima, Alexander Wurz and Stephane Sarrazin. More than a minute covered the pair of top LMP1-H entries.

“Today the whole team did a great job with the right strategy and solid pit stops; everyone kept calm and focused on getting the result. We showed we had the fastest car in Fuji and we’ve done that again here in Shanghai,” Davidson said. “We didn’t want to take too many risks, particularly in traffic so it was a relatively quiet race for me; Seb did all the spectacular work at the start. To get such a result at this stage of the season is huge for us and now we aim to continue like this in the final two races.”

Porsche made it to the podium with the No. 14 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Marc Lieb, Romain Dumas and Neel Jani in third.

Rebellion Racing (LMP1-L) and G-Drive Racing (LMP2) took the other Prototype class victories in Shanghai. Rebellion’s No. 12 Rebellion R-One Toyota (Mathias Beche, Nick Heidfeld, Nico Prost) was best of three subclass P1 cars while G-Drive’s No. 26 Ligier JS P2 Nissan of Olivier Pla, Julien Canal and Roman Rusinov captured its fourth win of the year.

Extreme Speed Motorsports made it onto the podium in LMP2 in second place, courtesy of a storming drive from Ryan Dalziel alongside Scott Sharp and Ricardo Gonzalez in the No. 30 HPD ARX-03b. It’s the last race for the team’s open-top cars before they switch to the new HPD ARX-04b coupes next season.

While Porsche took the GTE-Pro win with the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR (Fred Makowiecki, Patrick Pilet driving), Aston Martin Racing were still the bigger winners.

The No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Christoffer Nygaard took the GTE-Am class win. As the sister No. 95 “Dane Train” car finished in second place (David Heinemeier Hansson, Kristian Poulsen, Richie Stanaway), it has also ensured that one of its two GTE-Am entries will take the 2014 GTE-Am Teams Trophy and one or more of its drivers will take the GTE-Am Drivers Trophy.

The WEC is back in action next at Bahrain, November 16, in two weeks’ time. The season concludes at Brazil on November 30.

Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”