Ryan Dalziel said he had a “good feeling” heading into the Rolex 24 at Daytona with Era Motorsport, which claimed a breakthrough maiden victory in the LMP2 class.
The U.S.-based Scot shared the team’s No. 18 Oreca 07 Gibson with Kyle Tilley, Dwight Merriman and Paul-Loup Chatin, which took a narrow win over the No. 8 Starworks-run Tower Motorsport entry.
“I joined Era at the end of the last year and watched what they had done in their first season last year and was really impressed with what Kyle had put together with Dwight,” said Dalziel.
“I had a really good feeling about this week. My wife said she hadn’t seen me this confident in one of these for a number of years.
“We definitely executed everything on our end. We had a couple of unlucky breaks. I think we were four laps down at one point.
“We only got one yellow that actually got us on the lead lap. To be honest it was executing as a team and the drivers. The car was extremely fast.
“We just fought our way all the way back to the last ten minutes. We knew they had to do a splash.”
Dalziel insisted there was “nothing lucky” about the team’s win other than the bad luck it encountered early in the race, which he described as a “catalog of things” that went wrong.
“At one point we had the car kept going into a limp mode,” he said. “It was in the middle of the night between Kyle, me and Paul were cycling through pretty aggressive triple stints.
“Every time we did a driver change the car would go in limp mode and we’d have to do a reset on track.
“We had no clutch for 12 hours. We were starting the car without a clutch.
“Every time the thing fired up and rolled off, we kind of thanked our lucky stars it had the strength to get us out of pit lane. It was one of those races.
“Even the year we won it with Action Express, for the last half of the race we were having a throttle sticking issue. Every stop they’d just spray some lube in the back of the engine cover.
“Sometimes when it’s your year, it’s your year and I felt this year was our year to come back and win it.
“We drove extremely fast at all times. I think we only got help in one or two yellows. Other than that we had a good, clean race and got back to the front.”
While it marked Dalziel’s second Rolex 24 win after his overall victory with Action Express Racing in 2010, Tilley, Merriman and Chatin all became first-time class winners.
“The program was initially started a year ago for this event,” said team owner/driver Tilley. “So to come here twice, initially with a podium and to win the thing, is pretty staggering.
“I can’t speak highly enough of everybody that has been involved with our program. They make my life very easy so on these race weekends I can just show up and drive.”