Scotland's Ryan Dalziel, set to pilot the Pacific Coast Motorsport ...
Scotland's Ryan Dalziel, set to pilot the Pacific Coast Motorsport #5 Menards-Yokohama Corvette C5-R in the third round of the 2005 American Le Mans Series this weekend, has taken time out to review life as an ALMS rookie while reflecting on his association with PKV Racing in the 2005 Champ Car World Series.
Ryan Dalziel - May 2005 Q&A
By: Stuart Morrison
Q: Two races into your rookie ALMS season, how do you feel you're adapting to the challenges of sports car racing?
RD: Very well so far! I'm a firm believer in a good driver adapting to any situation put in front of him so I wasn't worried about the switch at all. The main difference is sharing the car with your team-mate during race, practice etc.
Q: Having successfully completed the 12 Hours of Sebring, what were your initial impressions of endurance racing and has it given you a taste to go on and try the likes of the Le Mans 24 Hour race?
RD: Sebring was great and I think Pacific Coast Motorsport did an amazing job being so organized and disciplined with such a huge task placed in front of us for our opening race. Le Mans is obviously any sports car driver and team's goal so I'm very excited about racing there in the near future.
Q: With PCM running a privateer Corvette C5-R up against the might of the factory-backed C6-R's in the GT1 class, what are realistic goals for the season - points or podiums?
RD: I think for us we are building on our own program for the future and if we can turn a few heads in that time then we'll be happy. The C6's are the cars to beat but the C5 is still a great car and we're hoping to mix it with the big boys mid-season and challenge for some podiums. We have, at times, showed lots of pace and with the right conditions we can be top of the time sheets.
Q: Have both you and the team been welcomed to the ALMS paddock since your respective transfers from the Toyota Atlantic Championship?
RD: Yeah absolutely! I think it was important for us to be fighting from the first race as we came in with a lot of pressure being a championship winning open-wheel team and I think there's always rivalry between different series. I think we impressed a lot of people by getting results in a package which they know we're getting the maximum out of.
Q: Your team-mate at PCM is your former Toyota Atlantic rival Alex Figge, what's it like sharing driving duties with Alex as well as David Empringham at the longer ALMS races?
RD: It's a lot of fun! Alex and I have been great friends over the past few Atlantic seasons and racing with him is an added bonus. Dave is an amazing
guy also and is probably the person I'm closest with inside and outside racing these days. We have become friends, colleagues and family over the past few seasons so it's been great!
Q: Has anything about the American Le Mans Series surprised you?
RD: I think the support we receive from the fans. I never expected such huge crowds outside of Champ Car and NASCAR but I'm sure we're best of the rest as far as numbers. The level of competition I expected to be high so that was no shock.
Q: Prior to joining the ALMS you were being touted as a potential candidate for the vacant PKV Racing seat before Cristiano da Matta was confirmed by the team. Was it disappointing to lose out on the seat having tested well with the team at Barber Motorsports Park back in November?
RD: I was and still am gutted about losing out. Champ Car is why I came to America to race and I felt very confident I had a good shot but I guess it wasn't my time. I must admit though, racing in the ALMS with Pacific Coast Motorsport is amazing and it's opening a lot of different avenues for my career. I'm very happy with where my career is at right now!
Q: PKV Racing were obviously impressed with you as you've been hired as a team consultant for the 2005 Champ Car World Series season. Can you explain your role within the team and what you were doing at the Long Beach Grand Prix, the opening round of the new Champ Car season?
RD: I make great coffee! Not really! Jim McGee and I formed a good relationship over winter as I did with the whole PKV team in general. I knew about the da Matta deal right from the start and we decided to keep me involved in some capacity so I wasn't left in the shadows.
Champ Car is still regaining its feet and momentum is growing again so I'm hopeful about possibly still coming back for a race seat. My role consists of being at the races, tests etc. While at the track I'm another set of eyes and ears for the team and I'm involved in all debriefs, strategy meetings and my input is hopefully of some use. Also on the marketing side we're hoping to put me to work.
Q: What were your impressions of the Champ Car race at Long Beach and the strength of the 2005 driver line-up?
RD: I'm going to be a little negative with the line up. Mainly due to the fact I've raced and beaten half the field. You just have to look at the results of many of
the new drivers from their previous seasons. In saying that I still think the talent at the front is huge. I have a lot of respect for the Newman/Hass, Forsythe, RuSport drivers and I think Timo Glock has been very impressive. I'm looking forward though to getting in there soon and mixing it with all of them.
Q: Is it your ambition to get back to open-wheel racing in 2006 or to continue to build a reputation in sports cars?
RD: At this point I'm open to all series. I'm having lots of offers in the sports car world and I wouldn't hesitate in staying here and building on my reputation. But I'm also an open wheel driver at heart and won't rule out Champ Car or IRL yet. You have to go where you're wanted though and right now that's where I'm at!
Ryan returns to action with Pacific Coast Motorsport this weekend, 20th- 22nd May, piloting the GT1 entered #5 Menards-Yokohama Corvette C5-R in Round 3 of the 2005 American Le Mans Series at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.