When Extreme Speed Motorsports takes to the track for this weekend’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship pre-season testing at Sebring, it will be with some familiar surroundings for Ryan Dalziel, who makes his debut with the Florida-based squad.
That’s because the 31-year-old Scot has been reunited with veteran engineer Steve Challis, who played an integral part in Starworks Motorsport’s FIA WEC LMP2 championship-winning effort in 2012.
“When I started talking to ESM and they started to put the deal together, almost in the first couple of conversations, we started talking about engineering and strengthening the team,” Dalziel told Sportscar365.
“They really wanted to take things to the next level… My first choice was my old buddy, Steve Challis.”
Challis, who worked with ESM from 2010-11, takes the role as engineer of the No. 1 Tequila Patron-sponsored HPD ARX-03b, with Leigh Pettipas moving into a technical director position.
The former open-wheel ace, who engineered for the late Greg Moore at Forsythe, among other CART and IndyCar teams, sat out much of 2013 after plans for Starworks revived WEC program failed to materialize.
“Obviously our objectives are a little bit different but I’m really excited,” Challis said. “I’m just pleased with this team. It’s the same car. It’s a different tire but I’m sure a lot of it will be the same. I’m happy and eager to try and put my spin on it.”
What’s more, the solo entry from ESM this weekend at Sebring and next week at Daytona is the exact chassis that Dalziel drove and Challis engineered to the WEC title, which included class wins in the Twelve Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Car owner Enzo Potolicchio sold the HPD ARX-03b to the Scott Sharp-owned squad at the beginning of the year, which ran as ESM’s No. 02 entry for Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek in the ALMS this season.
“It’s definitely fitting that the first test we do at Sebring and Daytona is in our old championship-winning Starworks car,” Dalziel said. “It’s not the car I’ll run for the season, but it’s definitely nice to get in there and drive it, first time here with the team.”
Dalziel, who will team with Sharp in the No. 1 car for the TUDOR Championship season, is excited about the team’s prospects in the Prototype category.
The car, weighing in at IMSA’s provisional 960kg minimum, is running in high downforce configuration at Sebring but will switch to the Le Mans aero kit for Daytona next week.
“We’re ready to get started,” Dalziel said. “I think we’re all looking for a nice, quiet steady couple of days testing here. Then we’ll get our heads down over the winter and turn up strong for Daytona.”