Starworks Motorsport team principal Peter Baron is bullish on his team’s chances in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, having re-assembled several key members from its past championship-winning efforts.
The Florida-based team has returned to action following a two-year hiatus, with Ryan Dalziel set for a season-long effort in an Audi R8 LMS Evo.
Dalziel will be joined by Parker Chase and Ezequiel Perez Companc for the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races and Audi factory driver Christopher Haase in the season-opening round.
While initially tabbed to be part of a larger GT Daytona class operation in conjunction with Montaplast by Land Motorsport, which Baron and Starworks assisted last year, a “change of direction” with the German squad’s primary sponsor resulted in Baron going back to the basics.
“Originally it was going to be a two-car Montaplast program,” Baron told Sportscar365.
“That didn’t materialize. We still get along well with the Land folks, but unfortunately we’ve had to completely seperate.
“So we needed a proper team to go out and beat the Land guys. What a better way to do it than to get our world championship team back together?
“Starting in the middle of December, I made some phone calls, getting everybody back together.”
In addition to longtime driver Dalziel, who last drove for the team full-time in 2013, Baron has brought back veteran engineer Steve Challis, who was part of Starworks’ FIA World Endurance Championship-winning LMP2 program, as well as team manager Simon Morley.
Several mechanics from its Prototype Challenge class title-winning season in 2016 have also returned, making for a reunion of sorts from the team’s two most successful seasons in sports car racing.
While maintaining a friendly relationship with Land, which has continued to rely on Starworks’ logistical support for the Endurance Cup races, Baron feels the knowledge gained from running Audis, both in IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge with Dalziel and Chase, will play into the revived team’s hands.
“The nice thing is that I kind of know the benchmark for where we need to be for an Audi,” he said. “I know all of [Land’s] strengths and weaknesses.
“They have their thing set and I think we’re pretty good and know our fundamental pieces are pretty awesome. I like our chances.”
Dalziel Delighted with Starworks Return After “Rough” Past Few Years
After a few challenging seasons with Tequila Patron ESM, Dalziel admitted he questioned his future of racing in top-level IMSA competition, prior to his reunion with Baron for 2019.
“Last year was an extremely challenging and emotional rollercoaster for me,” Dalziel told Sportscar365.
“It was a rough couple of years. As much as I loved Patron ESM, the results weren’t there for me.
“Last year there were so many things out of our control that really put me in a big funk of whether I wanted to continue racing.
“I had pretty much decided in the off-season that I was either going to stop and do something else, and maybe just do a World Challenge program, or drive for Peter Baron.”
Dalziel had credited Baron for his tenacity during the off-season in juggling multiple potential programs before finalizing the Audi GTD effort with Chase.
“We put it together; it wasn’t easy but it’s been nice,” he said. “It’s all about the support system around you and keeping your confidence up and having people around you that believe in your ability.
“We’ve done a good job and there’s no better team rallier than Peter.
“We’ve not had the best of tests so far but everyone’s spirits are high and everyone’s having a good time.
“The key to our success has always been doing a lot with a little and we’re continuing to do that.”