WEC - Dalziel Post Season Interview
Daytona, Nov. 21, 2012: World endurance champion Ryan Dalziel can be forgiven for pinching himself to see whether the 2012 season actually happened, but after announcing their Daytona 24 line-up he is already targeting even greater success next year.
The flying Scotsman- who now lives in Windermere, Florida – will join up with Alex Popow, Allan McNish and Sebastien Bourdais for the prestigious 24-hour race and will team up with Popow in the #2 Starworks Ford-Riley for the rest of 2013. He is also planning to defend his FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 crown.Ryan – who originally comes from Lanarkshire, Scotland - has been in the form of his life in 2012 as he has stormed to victories and podiums across the globe and he is determined to have more of the same next year.
He has racked up an incredible run of results that saw him help Fort Lauderdale-based Starworks Motorsport clinch the inaugural FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 class title.
That success included class victories at the Sebring 12Hours in Florida, Sao Paulo in Brazil and, of course, the Le Mans 24 Hours in France. Ryan, along with his 2012 team-mates, also combined to put Starworks on the podium at Silverstone in Britain, Bahrain, Japan and China in the Honda Performance Development car.
He also achieved a career-best second place in the Rolex Grand-Am Sports Car series, with a win at Watkins Glen and pole position and second place in the Daytona 24 in their Ford-Riley. The team also clinched the first ever North American Endurance Championship.
Ryan took time out to look back at a season of highlights and look forward to 2013…
How would you rate the season?
It’s been 10 out of 10 for sure. I went into this season knowing we were going to be strong but I had no idea I would look back and be speechless about just how amazing it was.
Is it possible to pick out one highlight?
Winning Le Mans is a clear favorite of mine. To stand on the podium in France in front of 250,000 crazy fans was just an unbelievable feeling. Since going there in 2010, all I’ve dreamed about is going back and winning. But it was particularly special to share the moment with my good friend and boss Peter Baron. Nobody is more passionate about Le Mans and he made me appreciate what winning there really means.
How tough was it to run a Grand-Am program alongside the FIA WEC?
For me, it was tough. The cars are very different but I know the Grand-Am car so well that I had that one covered. The WEC P2 car was a little challenging at first, just because of our lack of testing at the start of the season. But, by Le Mans, I had found my feet and started to feel good in the car. But it was undoubtedly tough for the team running two programs. I watched Peter and the crew have many sleepless nights as they made sure each car and team was ready to go and win races.
So how pleased were you to finish a career-best second in the Rolex Sports Car Series?
I am really happy but there is still a part of me saying “what if” after the on-track incident with Juan Pablo Montoya at Indianapolis. I truly believe that, if it hadn’t been for that, we would have won the championship. I am proud of what we accomplished and, after Indy, we came back really strongly and took points out of Ganassi in three of the last four races. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough so we will just have to go back and win it in 2013.
But you have now won all the major endurance race titles. That must make you very proud?
Yeah, after winning the WEC title in Japan I remember being on the 14-hour flight back to Atlanta for Petit Le Mans and I knew that if I won there then I’d won all the big ones. I have been asked the question ‘What next to win?’ a number of times this year. All I can say is I can’t wait to win them twice.
Life never stands still in racing, what are you doing next?
Well, I’ve had some pretty uncomfortable back pain the past few months. I knew it was pretty serious so I was counting down the days to some time off so that I could get it taken care of. It turns out I have a herniated disc in my lower back. I have been getting treatment since we returned home from China. I’m 90% to where I need to be and am getting better each day.
Racing-wise, Alex Popow and I are racing a six-hour race in Bogota, Colombia, on December 8th with Starworks in one of their older DP cars. Then, on December 15th, we are together again with AF Corsa in the 12 Hours of Abu Dhabi in a Ferrari 458GT3 along with German Pierre Kaffer.
Daytona has always been a major highlight on your schedule. You announced your line-up earlier this week - you must be excited about your chances?
After working with Allan and Seb last season they were our priority picks and we are thrilled to get two guys like that in our line-up. We are still considering whether to add a fifth driver but I think it’s likely that we’ll stick with the four. Last year we proved we had the speed and reliability to win, we just came up a couple seconds short. This year, we will be better prepared than ever. We have replaced some key crew members to strengthen our team from last season so I think putting everything together will be our strongest showing as a team to date.
When will you get the guys together in the car? Will you be at the Roar?
Yeah, we chose to skip the November Daytona test mainly because we wanted to prepare the car better for the Roar. There are a lot of things we wanted to do on the car that we learned from last year so now we have the time to concentrate on Daytona builds.
Will you also be back out in the WEC?
That is our plan for sure. We are very close to getting things together for WEC with driver line-up, and what chassis/engine we will go with. With the WEC schedule not starting until April we have the luxury to take our time and not rush into decisions, and make sure all our priority within Starworks is on Daytona right now. That’s something we did in 2012 - we combined our WEC/Rolex crews to build the Daytona programs and it turned out pretty well for us. Hopefully, all going well, we can announce our WEC program before the end of the year.
You obviously live in America, but how has your success been received back in your native Scotland? Are you going back soon – for the Scottish Motor Racing Club (SMRC) awards?
Yes, I will be in Scotland on November 30th for the West of Scotland Kart Club awards (WSKC, the go-kart club I grew up at) and then December 1st for the SMRC awards. I am very proud of my Scottish heritage and I will never forget where I come from. I wish I could get back more often but my racing schedule this year was just too swamped. My wife, Jessica, and I are spending New Year in Scotland with my family also so we are looking forward to some cold weather and a good old Scottish breakfast!