Daytona 24: Ryan Dalziel race reflections

Dalziel's Daytona Reflections Orlando, Florida (February 13, 2006) - It's been just over two weeks since Scotland's Ryan Dalziel contested the famed Rolex 24 at Daytona, the twice round the clock American endurance classic featuring as...

Dalziel's Daytona Reflections

Orlando, Florida (February 13, 2006) - It's been just over two weeks since Scotland's Ryan Dalziel contested the famed Rolex 24 at Daytona, the twice round the clock American endurance classic featuring as the opening round of the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series.

It was an early start to the 2006 season for Dalziel and it follows a productive 2005 for the 23-year-old Scot, currently based in Orlando. With starts in the American Le Mans Series, Rolex Sports Car Series and the Champ Car World Series in 2005, Ryan continues to forge a reputation as a young open-wheel and sports car stand-out.

2006 looks to hold more of the same and behind the wheel of Pacific Coast Motorsports' #89 Playboy/Vonage/Palms Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype, Dalziel wasted little time in slicing through a grid full of leading sports car and open-wheel campaigners to sit second overall in his first stint in last month's Rolex 24 at Daytona, hosted at the 3.56km Daytona International Speedway.

Fate was ultimately to thwart what was a front-running effort by Dalziel and his PCM team-mates Alex Figge (USA), David Empringham (Canada) and Jon Fogarty (USA). A series of trips back to the garage ended in the team's retirement in the early of hours of the Sunday morning at Daytona due to engine-related issues.

Reflecting on what was a fantastic learning experience Ryan shares his thoughts on the lessons learned from the Daytona classic.

* On the difference between pre-season testing at Daytona and the Thursday practice sessions and qualifying:

RD: I think the biggest difference is that we had two more drivers to get through in what becomes a much more limited time span than the normal sessions. Also it's impossible to have the car perfect for everyone so finding a balance that suited all four of us was important and a priority!

* On sharing a car with three other team-mates and spending so much time together on one weekend:

RD: Well all four of us are good friends away from the track so being together at Daytona for so long wasn't even an issue. I have huge respect for Alex, Dave and Jon and I think we had a good balance with the two older guys, Dave and Jon, keeping Alex and I out of trouble throughout the weekend with all the off-

track activities Daytona's schedule brings! Joking aside though we all brought something important to the team and we ran well together.

* On the crew that work for Pacific Coast Motorsports:

RD: I've always said that PCM have an amazing crew and I think everyone at Daytona realized that when no matter what went wrong for us, we brought the car back to the garage and fixed it. After the second problem we were determined to finish the race regardless of our position. I think our biggest disappointment was not being able to fix our final problem with the engine. Believe me, when I say if we could've changed engine and continued we would have! I was proud of the whole crew!

* On racing the Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype for only the second time (his first start coming with a sixth-place finish in Mexico City, Mexico last November):

RD: We again proved that we have a car capable of running at the front and I look forward to our next race in Mexico in March as we raced well there last year in our series debut. We haven't shown our full potential by any means in qualifying but that will come to us and we'll build on our efforts so far.

* On the single biggest challenge of contesting the Rolex 24 at Daytona:

RD: I learnt that 99% of staying in the race is luck. So many teams that were expected to do well dropped out due to no fault of their own. Staying focused and conserving energy was tough but with four drivers we had it easier than the three car teams for example. The key to racing in traffic was avoiding slower and less aware drivers. Losing a position, on say the tenth lap, means nothing over the course of a 24 hour race, there's plenty of time to get back up there.

* On the fans who go the distance to watch the Rolex 24 at Daytona:

RD: I was really impressed with the turn-out for the whole weekend. Daytona is a huge place and only NASCAR can fill those stands for now but the infield section was full for the three days we were there. The fans in the middle of the night were having a blast and the beer never stopped them!!! They certainly enjoyed being around the PCM #89 Playboy/Vonage/Palms team!

* On the competition he'll face during the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series:

RD: It's hard to evaluate the competition at Daytona because there are so many drivers competing in 'one-off' outings. I will say I noticed which teams will be strong. I think it's going to be a tough season overall between the likes of Suntrust, Ganassi, Gainsco, AJR, Crawford Racing and of course Pacific Coast Motorsports.

* On competing in the Rolex 24 at Daytona compared to his prior longest sports car experience at the 2005 12 Hours of Sebring:

RD: I remember saying at the end of Sebring last year, where we scored a top-ten finish in PCM's sports car debut, that another 12 hours of racing would have been hell. I was right! It was a cool event but in comparison to the Rolex 24 it was just a sprint race. You have to have a totally different mindset to prepare for these races but I look forward to my next endurance marathon!!!

Ryan Dalziel returns to Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series competition next month, 2nd-4th March, with Round 2 hosted at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, Mexico.

-www.ryandalziel.com

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Jon Fogarty , David Empringham , Alex Figge