On-form endurance star Ryan Dalziel mixed a stunning pit strategy with awesome speed to fire Starworks Motorsport right back into the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series title mix.
The proud Scot – who lives in Windermere, Florida – had the Saltire flying high after a mega two-hour stint brought the #2 Ford/Riley home in a sensational second place in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Visual Studio Ultimate Grand Prix of Atlanta.
After heavy storms cancelled qualifying, race order was determined via championship points, lining the #2 fourth on the grid.
Starworks team-mate Alex Popow, from Venezuela, put in an accomplished opening shift maintaining fourth place before handing over to Ryan. The 2012 Speed.com Sports Car Driver of the Year was down to ninth at one point as the team played the strategy card to get him some clean air and room to race.
And Ryan – originally from Airdrie in Lanarkshire, Scotland – responded by working his way through the field to get into the podium positions.
He showed the form that helped Starworks Motorsport to the FIA WEC LMP2 title and second place in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series last year as he powered his way into second and closed the gap on winners Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas before finally coming home 17.781 seconds back.
The result keeps the Starworks Motorsport team fourth in the standings. They are 17 behind Ganassi duo Pruett and Rojas, but closed the gap to 10 points from second place.
RYAN SAYS: “It really was a great day for the Starworks #2 car. We were a little anxious as we went into the race because we had such limited dry running time, but the Starworks crew outdid themselves. They did an awesome job.
“It was a great effort from our engineers on the set-up, brilliant strategy from Peter Baron, as always, and our pit stops were electric.
“But, while we can and should enjoy this result, we have to build on it. We need to keep collecting podiums because I don’t want to be a runner-up. We are here to win and I feel like we are knocking on the door.
“It’s always a great feeling to be on the podium. Now we want to be back on the top step.
“Alex Popow was immensely impressive all through the weekend and he improves every time he gets in the car.
“After a tough time at Barber we needed to be strong and close the points gap up – that’s what we did on the #99 and #10 cars.
“We need to find a little more speed for Detroit to fight with the #01 - they were the class act in the field, but we are up for the challenge. I am really proud to be part of such a great group.”
NOTES: Ryan will next be in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series action on June 1 at the Chevrolet Grand-Am Detroit 200 at Belle Isle.
Ryan managed a career-best second place in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series in 2012, with a win at Watkins Glen, second place in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and third at Sahlen’s Six Hours Of The Glen and Laguna Seca. He also won the Rolex 24 in 2010.
He had four Rolex Grand-Am podiums in 2011 – a win at Mid-Ohio and third at Barber, Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. He also had three fourth-place finishes. Ryan also gave Starworks Motorsport its first DP victory, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, in 2008.
Ryan and Starworks Motorsport won the FIA World Endurance LMP2 Championship, thanks to class wins at Sebring in Florida, the Le Mans 24 Hours and Brazil. They were also on the podium at Silverstone in the UK, Japan, China and Bahrain.
He also grabbed an American Le Mans Series LMPC class wins at Petit Le Mans, Baltimore and Long Beach in California as well as a third place in class at Mosport in Canada.