After an extremely strong start to its debut in the LMPC category in the American Le Mans Series at the Circuit of The Americas this week, it was ultimately a disappointing result for Starworks Motorsport who had to retire from the race due to a terminal engine issue this afternoon.
Following the two further practice sessions later in the morning, it then came to qualifying on Friday afternoon. The task was given to Ryan, who laid down a sensational lap time on a drying track that was only a whisker away from P1 in class. However, celebrations were short lived as Starworks, along with four other teams, were slapped with a heavy grid penalty because they failed to participate in the dangerously wet first practice session.
The ALMS rules state that each driver has to set a lap within 115% of class pole in each official event session to "qualify" to start the race. The #5 Starworks was therefore sent to the back of the provisional grid with Ryan having to start the team’s inaugural PC race from P6 in class, but P30 overall.
‘Flying Dalziel’ made an incredible start to the first ALMS race to take place at COTA. On an incredibly hot and dry Saturday afternoon, he carved through the PC, GT and GTC field to run P26 after the first lap and then up to P6 in class (P12 overall) within the first five minutes of the two hours and 45 minutes long race. From P8 overall strategy came in to play and a trip to pit road for an early driver change and fuel stop seemed to be panning out for the team. However Ryan had reported that the car’s power was dropping and a delay in getting John started also cost the team valuable seconds.
The start to John’s race was therefore not going to be easy. He began with a wounded engine and in heavy PC and GT traffic. Despite this he managed to improve his lap times and was swapping positions for most of his mandatory hour in the car. He was running P3 in class at the one hour and 33 minutes mark before handing back the driving duties to Ryan at just over the halfway stage.
This is when the team’s luck finally ran out. Ryan had to return to the pits almost immediately when the car's new engine decided that it was the end of the road. Despite trying to fix the problem it proved to be terminal, forcing the team to retire on lap 45.
Peter Baron, Starworks Motorsport Team Owner: "It was nice that we came here and were instantly fast. We have the engineering and crew ready to run confidently in LMPC, we just had a few teething issues here I think. Hopefully, it’s just a motor issue we had today that’ll be simple to fix. I’d like to thank John for being part of our debut and I am really grateful to him.
He did a great job and it’s a real shame that the engine was going south and he wasn’t able to show times indicative of what he can do. Ryan also did a great job in qualifying, so we know we have a good car and hope for better luck in Virginia.”
Ryan Dalziel, #5 Starworks: “It was a difficult weekend with some negatives and not the result we wanted, but we proved that we can come in to any class and be straight on the pace. The car was extremely good, so I am obviously very disappointed that we couldn’t get the result we wanted for the team’s debut in LMPC and also for John, who did a great job as usual."
John Pew, #5 Starworks: “The first few days of testing were good. I’m impressed with the team; they are great to work with and we were hopeful for a good result. Ryan was quick and I was getting quicker! His qualifying went really well, but unfortunately we had a problem with the rules that set us back on the grid. Ryan had a good, short first stint and then he gave me the car and gradually it got slower and slower.
At first I thought it may be the tyres, but when I was getting passed by GT’s and other PC cars I realised that there was a bigger problem. I brought the car back and Ryan went out, but had to come back in again. We still don’t know exactly what the problem is; it’s one of those things, but we are all obviously really disappointed with the result after such a promising week.”