World Endurance LMP2 champion and former Rolex 24 winner Ryan Dalziel has made it a magical Christmas for young Scottish kart star Ciaran Haggerty – by giving him an all-expenses trip to Daytona.
The flying Scotsman announced the trip at the West of Scotland Kart Club annual awards in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, on Friday – and Ciaran was picked for the £5,000 prize.
Ryan – who lives in Windermere, Florida, but is originally from Lanarkshire - He has arranged for flights, rental car, hotel and race tickets for the Grand-Am Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.
Every kid, including myself, wants to be in F1 when they grow up...
Sixteen-year-old Ciaran and his dad Joe, from Johnstone in Renfrewshire, will also stay in the same hotel as the Starworks Motorsport team and get exclusive access to the crew and pitlane during the race weekend.
The prize marks the end of a stunning season for Ryan and Ciaran. While Ryan and Starworks Motorsport won the FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2, tasted victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours and achieved a career-best second place in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, Ciaran has been on the trophy trail in Britain.
He won the Formula Blue Club Championship, the Summerlee Open and came out on top in the Overall Senior Club Championship after winning the junior championship in 2011 and is planning an assault on the Super1 series next year.
RYAN SAYS: “It is especially for kids aged 16 and under and I hope it will give them a different view of racing away from the Formula One angle. Every kid, including myself, wants to be in F1 when they grow up, but this will hopefully show that there is more to motor racing.
“I offered two tickets all expenses paid to come to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January. They will have full access. We will give them Starworks shirts and we want them to feel part of the team for the whole weekend.
I feel it is important that we do it right and make them feel welcome – and that is what we will do.
“I am coming off a very successful year and I felt good enough to stand up and offer this. I have wanted to do it for years, and hopefully I will be able to continue to offer it in the years to come.
“It is difficult to follow what goes on in Scotland when you are in America, but I asked a lot of people and the name everyone came up with was Ciaran’s.
“I had met Ciaran last year and he is really good kid with a great dad. There are a lot of kids with similar racing credentials, but his relationship with his dad reminded me a lot of how it was with my dad when we were coming through the ranks. That was a huge part of it.
“Ciaran’s results speak for themselves. He had an incredible year, so he was the perfect choice. I will do my best to introduce him to some teams an give him the opportunity to speak to a lot of people.”
JOE SAYS: “It still hasn’t really sunk in. To get something like this is just stunning. We have only seen it on TV so to be down there and smelling the petrol and soaking up the atmosphere will be unreal. I think it will take a while before we come back down to earth.
CIARAN SAYS: “I was lost for words when I found out. It is an amazing opportunity and I can’t thank Ryan enough. I have only ever been to a Formula One race before and we didn’t get anywhere near the cars – so it will be fantastic to be into the garage, speak to the team and watch Ryan and the other drivers close up.
“We have never been to America before, let alone Daytona, so it is going to be a dream trip. I have seen Le Mans on TV and those guys do a full F1 season in one weekend – that is the ultimate in car racing.”
THE FACTS: Ryan will be back in action next month when the Starworks Motorsport team takes part in the Roar Before The Rolex on January 4-6. He will team up with fellow Scot Allan McNish, Venezuelan Alex Popow and French ace Sebastien Bourdais ahead of the 24-hour race at the end of January.
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.
Ryan also managed a career-best second place in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, with a win at Watkins Glen, second place in the Daytona 24 and third at Sahlen’s Six Hours Of The Glen and Laguna Seca.
He also grabbed an LMPC class win and third place overall in the CORE autosport car at Long Beach in California as well as a third place in class at Mosport in Canada.
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.