RYAN DALZIEL PLANS A SPA-KLING SHOW IN BELGIUM
THE PLOT: High-flying Ryan Dalziel swaps America for Europe when he leads Starworks Motorsport into FIA World Endurance Championship action in Belgium this weekend.
Ryan, French ace Stephane Sarrazin and Venezuela Enzo Potolicchio aim to build on their superb LMP2 class win and third place overall in the HPD Honda in the opening round at Sebring, Florida, last month.
The trio will line up for Fort Lauderdale-based Starworks Motorsport as they tackle one of Europe’s most iconic tracks — the legendary Spa Francorchamps in the Ardennes.
Ryan — who lives in Windermere, Florida, but is originally from Lanarkshire in Scotland — has been in top form this year with class wins and podiums in three championships...the FIA World Endurance Championship, the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and the American Le Mans Series.
But this will be the first time Starworks have ventured outside of the States, meaning Ryan will need to get up to speed quickly on the famous old track.
He and Enzo even installed a simulator at the team HQ to give them an insight into the twists and turns of famous corners such as La Source, Stavelot, the Bus Stop and the world-famous Eau Rouge.
The duo are hoping to put in a winning performance to banish the blues of a disappointing run in the Grand-Am at the Grand Prix of Miami last weekend.
Torrential rain saw the race stopped 52 minutes early, with Ryan set to launch an assault if the weather had improved.
The call-off meant Starworks finished sixth in the Daytona Prototype class, but they are just two points off the championship lead.
THE QUOTES: Spa is one of those iconic tracks that every driver in the world want to experience at least once in their career.
We are going there with the points lead in LMP2 and we have done a lot of work on the car since our class win at Sebring. We knew Sebring would be good for us, and the team is much stronger now. But we also know that is different when you are not on your home patch.
“This is our first away fixture, so it will be tough going up against the local teams. There is a big field but if we can get a podium and leave with our points lead intact then we will be very happy.
“At Sebring we had local knowledge so we could focus on getting the car to be reliable. At Spa, it will different. We know the car is well-prepared and much more reliable, so Enzo and I can learn the track and not the car.
“We spent a couple of days in the simulator with Wirth before Sebring. Then we got a simulator at Starworks headquarters and were driving Spa last week so we have the layout in our heads. There is only so much you can do, now we need to get out there.
“I am trying not to listen to too many scare stories about how difficult it is. People always focus on Eau Rouge, but I think there are more to it than that. There are a lot more difficult areas. I am trying to go into it with an open mind.
“Our goal has to be to leave with a points lead. This is our first away match. As a team, Starworks have never ventured overseas and we have never done an away round.
“If we can go there and at least get a podium ahead of Le Mans and familiarise ourselves, that will be good. The rules will be a little different and the tracks are different to what we are used to in the US. Any result that is at the front end of the grid will be a positive but a podium will be great.
“We go there after Miami which was a disappointing result for the series. We made the wrong calls as a series. We shouldn’t have run the race under those conditions when we could have postponed it for a couple of hours and put on a great race for the fans and the TV viewers.
“But both Enzo and I were quick all weekend. The car was unbelievably good in the rain. We expect rain at Spa so we can use that experience at Homestead as a positive.”
THE FACTS: The World Endurance Series continues at Spa in Belgium before heading to Le Mans for the 24-hour race in June.
Ryan is also leading Starworks Motorsport’s 2012 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series campaign. They were runners-up in the Daytona 24 and sit just two points off the top of the championship after the rain-soaked showdown in Miami.
Ryan also grabbed an LMPC class win and third place overall in the CORE autosport car at Long Beach in California earlier this month.
Ryan 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.