Throughout the year, Continental Tire will focus on celebrating the fans, media, drivers, and teams and their contributions to sports car racing, including a weekly trip down memory lane in Sportscar365’s Continental Tire IMSA Reflections series.
This week, Ryan Dalziel reflects on his breakthrough win with Tequila Patron ESM last year at Petit Le Mans and what it takes to win one of sports car racing’s most prestigious events.
How did it feel to get your long-awaited first win with Tequila Patron ESM at Petit Le Mans?
“It was mega. For, being with the team since 2014 and many races I felt got away from us and after seeing the success that the other had had at Daytona and Sebring the year before, it was a special one for us.
“It’s special to win the last race of the year and it’s nice to win one of the big ones at the same time. It was a very cool day and it was nice to get to enjoy it for a couple of months.”
What does it do for your offseason when you finish the season like that?
“It’s nice! I think for the guys, especially on the No. 2 car, it was a big motivational boost and some bragging rights in the shop.
“We didn’t get that much time because we were home for a couple of weeks and then we started preparing for 2018. We enjoyed it, but it was quickly back to work.”
Did you know all weekend that you had a car capable of winning?
“I think between us and Penske for sure we seemed like we were the three strongest cars. I think that the 2 car had the legs on the 22 for most of the race, and then we had an alternator issue that every time we stopped we had to reboot the car.
“Every time we came into the pits we lost a couple of positions and then we made them back up again. We kind of thought it had gotten away from us on the last pit stop. We knew we were going to lose a couple of positions in the pits.
“Luckily we had some good luck on our side and it came back to us.”
What does it take to win a race like that? What are the keys to success?
“I think for us staying out of trouble was the top goal. Petit is really difficult, especially when the sun starts to set, both between the visibility of the sun going down and the visibility once it goes away.
“There are a lot of different aspects. You have to look after the car, look after the Continental Tires which for us were great. We were one of the few teams that were able to double stint or at least do a stint and a half.
“Staying clean, looking after your equipment, and staying up front was a big part of it which is why for us it was going to be difficult at the end without having a little bit of luck on our side.
“I think whoever stayed at the front was, more or less, going to stay there.”