Dalziel Champ Car Q&A - July 2005 Earlier this month Ryan Dalziel made his Champ Car World Series debut at the Molson Indy Toronto, 8th-10th July. While the opportunity to compete with Dale Coyne Racing ultimately turned out to be a...
Dalziel Champ Car Q&A - July 2005
Earlier this month Ryan Dalziel made his Champ Car World Series debut at the Molson Indy Toronto, 8th-10th July. While the opportunity to compete with Dale Coyne Racing ultimately turned out to be a one-off, Dalziel's ninth place finish was impressive not-least due to the lack of seat time heading into the event but also because of his ability to perform on the unforgiving streets of Toronto.
Returning to sports car competition in the ALMS alongside Alex Figge in the Pacific Coast Motorsports #5 Menards-Yokohama Corvette C5-R, the 23-year- old Scottish racer took time out to reflect on his maiden Champ Car start and his ambition to return to the series full-time in 2006.
Q: Can you explain how the opportunity to compete for Dale Coyne Racing at the Molson Indy Toronto came about?
RD: I was pursuing the seat since Servia moved on to Newman/Haas. Dale and I have spoken a number of times over the years so I know what their plans were for Milwaukee, Portland etc before they happened. I thought Tarso did a great job and expected him to be there for the season so it came as quite a shock when I got the call the Sunday before the race.
Q: You've been racing primarily in 2005 in the ALMS with Pacific Coast Motorsports - were the team happy to let you race a Champ Car?
RD: PCM have been nothing short of amazing to me in every aspect! I was racing at Lime Rock with them and I sat down with Tyler Tadevic (team manager) and Alex Figge (team-mate) straight after the call. They were very excited for me and knew it was a life long dream that I couldn't pass up. They agreed to let me go and pursue my Champ Car dream but would still allow me to compete in the ALMS races that I could. This was very important to me because I didn't want to burn the strong relationship I'd built with the team.
Q: Was it tough to make your first career Champ Car start on a street course like Toronto?
RD: Of all the tracks Champ Car visits I think Toronto is my most challenging. It's tough to make your debut on a temporary street circuit such as Toronto. I don't know why but I've never enjoyed good luck there in my three years of Toyota Atlantic racing. That said I knew I could do a good job and wasn't going to make any excuses about the venue.
Q: How did it feel to finally race a Champ Car having tested one on a couple of previous occasions?
RD: It was definitely everything I expected and way more! Competing in ALMS this year prepared me well for the long stints and pit stops so there were no real surprises when it came to them. Testing is one thing, racing is another so charging out the pits behind heroes like Vasser, Da Matta and Bourdais etc was pretty challenging but, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
Q: What were your goals in Toronto and how would you evaluate your performance?
RD: My first and utmost goal was to make no mistakes. Secondly was to keep improving every session. I knew if I achieved both those goals and kept out of trouble I could bring the car home in the top ten. I achieved all my personal goals and thought I did a really good job.
Q: What feedback were you given by the team during the weekend and after the race?
RD: They seemed genuinely happy with my performance. I got along very well with my engineer, Brain Ma, and we were both looking forward to Edmonton. I knew Ronnie Bremer was available and that Dale Coyne was very interested in him. I knew this before the weekend started so I had a lot of pressure on me to perform. I think my deal was done before Ronnie came available. I believe that he probably would have drove instead of me in Toronto if they hadn't committed to me by that point.
Q: Were you surprised that the opportunity with Dale Coyne Racing turned out to last just one race?
RD: I was surprised and am still a little upset about it. I went there believing if I kept out of trouble I was there for the year. Otherwise I would never have driven in Toronto. One-offs can hurt you more than help you. I always knew that there were a couple of drivers in line for the seat; none of which were Ronnie and I felt I had the upper hand over them. Hence I jumped at the opportunity.
Given all the circumstances, having a flat rear tire on the first lap of the race, running lap times on par with the guys that finished in the top- six, and ultimately posting a top-ten finish, I know I did a good job in my Champ Car debut and would only have improved in future starts.
Q: If another opportunity to race a Champ Car presented itself before the end of the season would you take it?
RD: I would certainly take a look at it. It's my dream and always will be, so to say no would be hard. I have a very strong link with PKV Racing and my goal is still to race for them in 2006. They've been very supportive of me and it's where I want to race in 2006. On the other hand I'm racing in ALMS with Pacific Coast Motorsports and I don't want to unsettle anything with them. They look after me and I really love the team.
Q: Do you think your performance in Toronto will have made some other Champ Car team owners sit up and take notice of your ability?
RD: I'll be honest in that I didn't set the world on fire, but I think I was mature in my approach to the weekend and during the race, and they hopefully noticed that. The owners saw that I did some very good things: (i) kept the car off the wall; (ii) improved each and every session; (iii) worked well with my team; and (iv) continued to understand the driver's important responsibilities to sponsors.
As I said my Champ Car goals are with PKV Racing but I'm open to offers.
Q: You've stated previously that a full-time ride in the Champ Car World Series is your main career objective, is this still the case?
RD: Absolutely! But as I'm driving in different series (i.e. Grand Am and ALMS) I'm seeing that there are other avenues. It's still my dream and I'll do whatever it takes to get there but I'm very realistic and I know how hard it is to make dreams a reality.