Dalziel, Zogaib score Laguna Seca victory

Dalziel, Zogaib score Laguna Seca victory

There was plenty of exciting racing action at Saturday's US Sports Car Invitational which saw Scotsman Ryan Dalziel take his first Rolex Sports Car Series victory along with his Lebanese teammate Henri Zogaib. There were six different overall...

There was plenty of exciting racing action at Saturday's US Sports Car Invitational which saw Scotsman Ryan Dalziel take his first Rolex Sports Car Series victory along with his Lebanese teammate Henri Zogaib. There were six different overall race leaders during the nearly three hour event, including Cristiano da Matta in his first race since his 2006 testing accident at Road America, Michael Valiente, Joey Hand, Scott Pruett, and pole sitter David Donohue.

#2 SAMAX BMW Riley: Ryan Daziel, Henri Zogaib.
Photo by Bob Heathcote.

It was the first victory also for team owner Peter Baron and his SAMAX Motorsport team and it came on his birthday! "It feels fantastic to break through the barrier for SAMAX and get this victory," said Dalziel. "I lost the Atlantic championship here in 2004, and since then I've had an up and down battle here.

"I told Peter Baron that I would get him a win, and he stuck with me and I'm happy to be able to get this win with Henri for Peter," added Dalziel. "The Dinan BMW was fantastic and team had phenomenal pit stops and strategy as usual, and even though I wasn't happy with my last restart, there was no way I was going to let this win get away! I was going to end up in the tires or end up in victory lane. This is very emotional for us, a huge day!"

Zogaib was as excited as Dalziel to not only earn the win for the team but to take his first victory at the home of the famous "Corkscrew" in his first time racing at the venue. "It is hard for me to describe what this win means to me. This comes after years of hard work for me from when I first started in this sport racing in Skip Barber and beginning to dream of a day just like this.

"I never set foot on this track until yesterday," continued Zogaib, "We missed the whole first session due to a fuel cell replacement. So I was under a lot of pressure to learn this track and find some speed. Ryan was pure magic. I'm very proud of him. There's a lot more to come from SAMAX. I'm a happy man."

The most exciting moment in the race came right after the two-hour mark when three Daytona Prototypes went three wide in a race for the lead -- points leader Pruett in his Telemex Lexus Riley was racing Belgian Marc Goossens driving his Riley Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley -- but both were overtaken by Dalziel in a classic move powering past the other two competitors.

#01 Ganassi Telmex Lexus Riley: Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas.
Photo by Bob Heathcote.

While Pruett and Goossens were on the podium with Dalziel, race leaders Valiente and da Matta did not fare nearly so well. The extreme heat of the weekend caused Canadian Valiente to be removed from his Suntrust Pontiac Dallara with heat exhaustion after the temperature in the interior of his car reached 147 degrees F. Fortunately, Valiente responded well to treatment at the track and required no further medical help. After leading the race, the #98 Pontiac Riley driven by da Matta and his co driver Jimmy Vasser had to retire on lap 80 due to mechanical problems.

In the GT class, in spite of an afternoon of close racing fairly well dominated by the Castrol Syntec Mazda of Canadian Sylvain Tremblay and Englishman Nick Ham, the #70 car went off course in the corkscrew, which allowed eventual class winner and local favorite Paul Edwards of Santa Maria, driving the #07 Banner Racing Pontiac to drive past him, along with 2nd place Spencer Pumpelly, who drove the TRG Porsche GT3 Cup on his way to his podium finish.

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Series GRANDAM