Ryan Dalziel drove a hard fought ‘Chevrolet GRAND-AM 200’ at Belle Isle, Detroit today to ensure a further podium (P3) for #2 Starworks Motorsport car whilst Brendon Hartley charged through the field to bring the #8 Ford Riley home in its best seasonal position to date (P8).
The weather was fine for the start of round five of the GRAND-AM Rolex Series on Friday. In the morning, Alex Popow put the #2 Daytona Prototype in P4 with a 1:27.973 on the 2.350 miles long track, whilst Scott Mayer and Brendon Hartley in the Fort Lauderdale squad’s #8 car completed the session in P12.
But it was Ryan who dominated the DP times during the rest of the practice sessions on the narrow street circuit. He shot to the top of the time sheets with 1:27.910 and 1:28.351 laps respectively. However, it was a different story for the team’s #8 sister car which developed an oil pressure issue on lap four of the second session and was forced to miss out on next practice completely whilst the team worked to ensure its participation in qualifying.
On a dry but cloudy race day, Alex Popow was lightening quick from the start grid and took P2 on the first lap before the first full course caution of the day. The #2 car dropped to P3 at the first necessarily lengthy Ford fuel pitstop and driver change, after which Ryan defended the podium position right up to the sprint finish to the chequered flag.
Scott Mayer was quick off the mark from P14 in #8. After the driver change Brendon Hartley made an impressive charge through the field to drive the Menards liveried Ford Riley over the finish line for its best result of the season and a handful of points in P8.
Peter Baron, Team Owner: “Overall the day was a positive, but it still hurts a bunch. People were quick to complain about the Ford getting extra 200 RPM as one of the downsides was the fuel mileage and today that’s exactly what cost us the race. But I am really proud of what the team did; we have moved up in the Championship and heading to tracks that are really strong for us, so we are moving in the right direction for the title.”
Alex Popow, car #2: “We had the best car out there today and we did all we could do. We went from P3 to P1 before the yellow and we were knocking on the door for the win. It will come soon – the team did a great job and so we have a lot of positives to take away from this race.”
Ryan Dalziel, car #2: “We are obviously disappointed. There are weekends you feel that when you’re this strong you’d surely come away with a victory. We had a great car, great pitstops by the team, but we suffered on pit mileage and had to take on four or five more seconds of fuel to finish the race after the yellows. But we’ve moved up to third and the next string of tracks really suit our car, so we’ve got to concentrate on that.”
Brendon Hartley, car #8: “We had a tough start to the weekend with no test laps in the car, but #2 was running well so we tried to replicate it for our race. We were very competitive; I came up the field to P6 before two safety cars and my move on Pizzonia put us back a bit. I gave it my all and it would have been nice to be on the podium but overall the team did a fantastic job and I am really pleased for the #2 guys.”