Dalziel enjoys Sonoma stint Sonoma, California (July 17, 2005) -- Scotland's Ryan Dalziel enjoyed a competitive return to sports car competition today at the 'Infineon Technologies Grand Prix of Sonoma', the fifth round of the American Le Mans...
Dalziel enjoys Sonoma stint
Sonoma, California (July 17, 2005) -- Scotland's Ryan Dalziel enjoyed a competitive return to sports car competition today at the 'Infineon Technologies Grand Prix of Sonoma', the fifth round of the American Le Mans Series, before the GT1 #5 Menards-Yokohama Corvette C5-R he races on behalf of Pacific Coast Motorsports was barged out of the race and into retirement.
Dalziel's team-mate, America's Alex Figge, was behind the wheel of the ageing C5-R when, with just under 40 minutes of the 2-hour 45-minute race remaining, the #1 Champion Audi R8 LM1 prototype charged out of the pits and into the front of the GT1 challenger. The ensuing contact saw a helpless Figge spin off and into the barrier, the rookie sports car racer forced to retire on the spot.
Today's endurance sprint had started well for the PCM crew, competing in their native-California for the first time this season, with Dalziel taking command of the first driving stint. The Scottish charger took the fight to the team's closest GT1 rival, the #35 Maserati MC12. With 25 laps chalked off the 2.53-mile Infineon Raceway, Dalziel was a mere 0.8s off the back of the MC12 and pressuring Andrea Bertolini for track position.
The Italian held his ground to keep Dalziel in check but he failed to shake off the 23-year-old Scot, the gap between the pair never more than a second until the Maserati pitted with just over an hour on the clock. Sitting fourth in class and ninth overall Dalziel subsequently pitted with 43-laps passing. Alex Figge jumped into the PCM hot seat and the American racer roared back on track with four new Yokohama's and a full tank of gas.
He held fifth in class for most of his stint and briefly found himself up in fourth as the Maserati pitted for a second time but that was as good as it got for Pacific Coast Motorsports as their race efforts were cut short by the accident that forced their first retirement of the season following four consecutive top ten overall finishes.
The GT1 battle was won by the #3 Corvette C6-R, driven by Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell, while overall race honors went to the #2 Champion Audi R8 pairing of Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro.
Dalziel remained upbeat despite the final outcome:
"It was great to be able to keep pace with the Maserati and I was looking forward to seeing what would happen until our race ended in the barriers. I had a good time racing, it was encouraging to fight for position and we really stretched out our fuel mileage. We had a good pit stop, the guys really work hard on getting them right and today was another great example. Alex took a big hit but thankfully he's ok although the car's going to need a bit of work. We'll bounce back from this disappointment and look for another strong GT1 run at the end of the month!"
The ALMS remains on the west coast but heads north to Oregon for Round 6, the 'Portland Grand Prix', 29th-31st July, at the Portland International Raceway.