Ryan up to speed at Sebring
Scottish motor racing's fastest export, Ryan Dalziel, set the fastest lap times of his life this week as he tested the might of a 750bhp turbo-charged Champ Car at the famous Sebring International Raceway in Florida on Wednesday and Thursday, 10-11 December.
Dalziel's test came courtesy of leading Champ Car team Walker Racing, run by fellow Scot Derrick Walker, in recognition of the 21-year-old's stunning form in the US-based 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship with Sierra Sierra Racing. Ryan, in only his second season racing in America, stormed to two victories, nine podiums, two pole positions and three lap records to claim the runner-up spot in the series, the feeder category to Champ Cars.
While Wednesday's test run was hampered by inclement weather, with Dalziel squeezing in a handful of laps at the end of the day on a drying-track, Thursday's running allowed the flying Scot to unleash the raw power of the Walker Racing Cosworth-powered Champ Car. Dalziel's test programme included short qualifying runs, practice pit-stops and full tank, flat-out laps at the 3.6-mile Sebring International Raceway.
Having sampled a Champ Car for the first time, Dalziel enthused:
"What a great experience, the power in the car is simply phenomenal! I've had a great time working with Walker Racing understanding more about the car and working through various programmes to extract the maximum from my seat time. I'm grateful to Derrick Walker for the opportunity and it's really fuelled my desire to step up to the category in 2004. I hope to be able to work with the team to put something together that's mutually beneficial!"
Walker Racing personnel were suitably impressed with Ryan's Champ Car debut. Team owner Derrick Walker commented:
"Considering that he (Ryan) has never experienced a race car with this much horsepower, I am very impressed with how he adapted to the car!"
Team Manager Rob Edwards was equally pleased and backed the Lanarkshire-born racer to succeed in the series should he secure a seat for 2004:
"Given the right opportunity and support, Ryan would be very competitive in a Champ Car."
Dalziel's options are currently open for 2004, the Scot's ambitions ultimately set on a move to Champ Cars while the alternative of a return to fight for the Toyota Atlantic title with Sierra Sierra Racing remains.
With the US-based Champ Car series set to run under new ownership in 2004, the support enjoyed by the series this season showed no signs of letting up with 2,397,455 fans attending 18 races in six countries. The series boasted no fewer than eight different winners and seven drivers collecting pole positions, with Canadian Paul Tracy crowned 2003 Champion.