Dalziel takes title fight to the wire A strong second-place finish today from Ryan Dalziel in Round 11 of the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal ensured the season-long title fight between the Scot and...
Dalziel takes title fight to the wire
A strong second-place finish today from Ryan Dalziel in Round 11 of the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal ensured the season-long title fight between the Scot and Jon Fogarty, today's race winner, would go all the way to the wire as they exit Canada just five points apart at the top of the points standings.
Having shared the lead of the championship after Friday qualifying, where Dalziel's point for provisional pole position brought him level with Fogarty on 261, the American's tally now stands at 294 after his victory and bonus point for leading the most laps, with Ryan just five points behind - the Lanarkshire racer helping his cause by securing the extra point awarded for fastest lap, claimed on the last tour of the 2.709-mile permanent road course.
Dalziel started the day setting the pace in morning practice and hoped to carry his advantage into the first turn at the start of the 25-lap race. Fogarty ultimately controlled the start to his advantage and Ryan duly gave chase. The pair quickly pulled away from the ensuing pack keeping their race and title battle firmly to themselves.
Ryan, racing the #28 ProWorks entry, continued to shadow Fogarty as the laps reeled off and it wasn't too long before the pair had to contend with backmarkers. Both drivers picked their way through the slower cars in the field but not before they were respectively held up and in a couple of cases almost forced off the track by the rookie racers.
Fogarty kept his cool despite the constant attentions of Dalziel and claimed the win just half a second ahead of the Scottish charger and an impressive 12 seconds ahead of third place finisher Alex Figge. Today's result sets up an epic showdown at Laguna Seca in two weeks time between Fogarty, 2002 Toyota Atlantic Championship, and Dalziel, runner-up in last year's championship fight.
After the race Ryan remarked:
"I knew it would be tough at the start on the outside line and after that my only real chance of taking the lead would have been for Jon to have made a mistake. He didn't so second place was the offer on the cards. I definitely had the pace in the car but with so little between Jon and I it could have been too risky to make a move.
"Unfortunately the backmarkers failed to use their mirrors today which created a few moments. It wouldn't have been right to have potentially had the outcome of the championship decided as a result of those guys. As things stand Laguna Seca's going to be an amazing weekend. On current form I think the win will likely be fought between Jon and myself with the bonus championship points playing a crucial role in the outcome of the title race!"
Ryan's second place finish at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve marks the third consecutive podium result for the 22-year-old in Montreal and his seventh of the 2004 season. Heading into the final race of the year Ryan has scored a total of four wins, five pole positions, four fastest race laps and three second place finishes.
The title deciding race, Round 12 of the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship, will be hosted at Laguna Seca, California on Sunday 12th September.