Ryan Dalziel -- 'Variety is the spice of life' Orlando, Florida (November 02, 2005) - If the old saying 'variety is the spice of life' is true then Scotland's Ryan Dalziel is in rude health heading into this weekend's Grand American...
Ryan Dalziel -- 'Variety is the spice of life'
Orlando, Florida (November 02, 2005) - If the old saying 'variety is the spice of life' is true then Scotland's Ryan Dalziel is in rude health heading into this weekend's Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series finale at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, 4th-5th November.
Racing alongside Alex Figge in Pacific Coast Motorsports' #89 Ironclad Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype, Dalziel's participation in Saturday's 250- mile race marks the fourth different category he's contested this season across three major championships.
Having started the year campaigning an ageing Corvette C5-R in the GT1 class of the American Le Mans Series, Dalziel then made a fleeting but impressive debut in the Champ Car World Series back in July at the Molson Indy Toronto. With just one day of testing in the Dale Coyne run Lola- Cosworth to his credit, Ryan duly delivered a ninth place finish in his maiden race.
His performance further served to underline his skill as an open-wheel racer but unfortunately for the former Toyota Atlantic standout, his Champ Car outing turned out to be a one-off appearance. Returning to sports car competition, Ryan complimented his experiences in the American Le Mans Series with additional sorties in the GT-class of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, racing a Porsche GT3 Cup car for SAMAX Racing.
With Pacific Coast Motorsports eventually withdrawing from ALMS competition and subsequently announcing their plans to run a Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype, starting with this weekend's season finale in Mexico City, Ryan once again finds himself ready for a new challenge and racing his fourth car of the season.
Prior to heading south to Mexico, Ryan took time out to discuss his Daytona Prototype debut while taking the opportunity to reflect on a busy 2005 season.
Q: With starts in the American Le Mans Series, Champ Car World Series and the Rolex Sports Car Series, has this season surprised you?
RD: Yes and no! I think the only real surprise was getting the opportunity to race a Champ Car in Toronto. Although it's my ultimate goal to race in that series I'm comfortable competing in sports cars in 2005. When I signed for Pacific Coast Motorsports at the start of the year I wanted to compete in as many sports cars as I could to gain experience and exposure in a new field of racing.
Q: Did you envisage at the start of the year you'd be so busy this season?
RD: No way! This year's been crazy and after Mexico City it doesn't stop! We pretty much finish one season and start the next. I like to keep busy and this year had really taught me how to deal with a non-stop schedule and how to hop in and out of different race cars. During the summer there was a twelve day spell where I raced three different cars in three different races! I ran at Daytona in the Rolex Sports Car Series, Lime Rock in the ALMS, then Toronto in the Champ Car. It was mega!
Q: Having competed in a handful of races in the GT class of the Rolex Sports Car Series, what excites you about stepping up to the Daytona Prototype category?
RD: I loved competing with SAMAX Racing in their GT Porsche but I could see just how competitive the Daytona Prototype cars were and I was envious when they would pass me in a train of six cars all challenging for the win! Since Pacific Coast Motorsports announced they were going to compete in Daytona Prototype's I've been pretty excited about getting into the car and racing it.
Q: How does the car differ from anything else you've driven this season?
RD: The car's fun to drive and to be honest I don't think it's been given the credit it deserves. It's physical and although it's a sports car by definition it feels a lot like an open-wheel car to drive.
Q: You managed to fit in a couple of tests before heading to Mexico, how did that go?
RD: There's only so much we could do before the car had to go to Mexico City but I think we're in fairly good shape. People might expect a lot from us but as a team we have our own realistic goals for the race and we'll just get to work concentrating on them.
We have an unbelievable crew! Our engineers Burke Harrison and Tim Lewis are legends and they're doing an amazing job getting to grips with the car. Dave Empringham has also been a tremendous help with his unrivalled knowledge. I really have to thank Tom Figge and Tyler Tadevic for putting Alex and I together again and for keeping a great team together.
Q: So what are your expectations for the race?
RD: I think we're looking at a strong showing but we're not expecting to go out there and win. Our goals are to learn more about the car and the series so that come Daytona in January we're in a better position to compete for the win.
Q: Is it frustrating for you, having made a successful debut in the Champ Car World Series back in July, to be racing on the same bill in Mexico but in a different category?
RD: Not at all. For sure I was disappointed not to remain in the ride given my performance but I've had an amazing year so far, I haven't got time for regrets. I will say that it's given me extra motivation to be competing on the same weekend in Mexico. Grand-Am has so many 'big name' drivers it can only make me look better competing against them no matter who's watching!
Q: What's been the highlight of your season so-far?
RD: Probably our ALMS race at Portland where we scored our first podium. We had a great race but not without incident. We actually lost second gear about thirty minutes into the race so we were using third everywhere which was a nightmare. Then, during the first pit-stop, we lost the clutch so had to stop and start the car without it.
Luckily the car limped out of the pits after each stop and kept going. With an hour to go our brake peddle was on the floor but we scraped through to take the third and final spot on the podium. It was a great feeling to see the guys faces after a tough season and a variety of set-backs.
Similarly, I can't forget taking the green flag in Toronto for my first ever Champ Car start and seeing the checkered flag when I brought the car home ninth. For me that was pretty emotional as it's something I'm very proud of.
Q: Having spent two seasons competing against Pacific Coast Motorsports in the Toyota Atlantic Championship (03-04), what's it like competing with them this season?
RD: It's been amazing, I really can't say enough about this team. They're so strong in every department and they deserve to be competing and winning races at the highest level. I have no doubt they'll achieve this in Grand- Am competition. There's a real camaraderie within the team, everyone's best buddies and on the driving side, me, Alex and Dave are all like brothers!
Q: So what are your plans post-Mexico?
RD: Well, as usual I have a lot going on. I'll be helping out my former team, Sierra Sierra, with their new Formula Atlantic program. I'll probably drive the car for them at some point. I will of course continue to work with Pacific Coast Motorsports as they prepare for the Daytona 24 in January and I'll keep an eye on Champ Car as well.
Saturday's race, Round 14 of the 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, will be broadcast live on SPEED Channel starting at 4pm ET.
Qualifying and race results will be posted online at: www.grandamerican.com