Ryan Dalziel said he and Era Motorsport co-driver Dwight Merriman are looking to earn “consistent points” in the LMP2 title race as the duo head into this weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round at Mid-Ohio in the points lead.
The Florida-based Scot and Bronze-rated Merriman hold a 33-point lead over Tower Motorsport’s Louis Deletraz and John Farano following podium finishes in the two season-long points-paying LMP2 races so far.
Dalziel and Merriman teamed up with team owner Kyle Tilley for a third place class finish at Sebring followed by a runner-up result last time out at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, which put the No. 18 Oreca 07 Gibson into the points lead.
Aside from a challenging Rolex 24 at Daytona — which does not count toward full-season LMP2 or LMP3 points — Dalziel said he’s been pleased with the season so far, despite not yet reaching victory lane.
“Daytona was a pretty rough one for us,” he said. “We had the early setback with Dwight then probably one of the best comeback races that we’ve ever had.
“Then with 23 minutes to go and we were in fourth when we lost the gearbox. It’s one of those things that if you beat up the car too much and you drive it too hard, eventually things come apart.
“We had a good rebound at Sebring. We got a puncture towards the end. Otherwise I think we would have been in contention to win as well. It put us down a lap and we never got the lap back.
“We knew going into Laguna we had a pretty strong car from last year. We had a pretty rough start to the race, as did a lot of the LMP2s, just the way the nature of the cold track and it’s quite tough in a P2 car to get the tires up [to temperature].
“We had a goal, which was to take points out and leave there with the points lead. We came in second or third [in the points] and knew there was an opportunity with Ben Keating skipping [the sprint races] to take the lead.
“We had a strong race. I think we finished 18 of 19 seconds behind the Tower [Motorsport] car. They were definitely stronger than us during the race.”
Mid-Ohio, site of the third point-paying LMP2 round of the season, has been a happy hunting ground for Dalziel, who has won in both Grand-Am and Pirelli World Challenge competition.
The team is also coming off the heels of a successful test at the 2.238-mile circuit, despite largely being in wet conditions.
“For Mid-Ohio, we tested there already this year and had a pretty good test,” Dalziel said. “It’s a track that I’ve always personally done pretty well at.
“It’s low grip and always tough conditions but looking forward to getting there.
“I think Mid-Ohio is just a continuation of trying to do as much work with Dwight between races. I think consistency is the most important thing in a Bronze championship.
“There’s guys like Ben Keating out there that are just exceptions to the rule a little bit.
“For most Bronzes, I think it’s the balance of how hard you push them without making mistakes. These guys can always find a little bit more time but it’s very easy to try and push for that extra two-tenths and lost 20 in the gravel driving through it.
“Everybody likes to win races. We all love to win. But to win championships is consistency and we just need to have consistent points through the rest of the year.”
Dalziel Hopeful of Larger LMP2 Schedule in Future
With only seven rounds on the overall 12-event WeatherTech Championship schedule, Dalziel said he wishes the LMP2 class would be competing at more races, despite IMSA’s effort to reduce costs for teams.
“We used to race 14 Grand-Am races a year and ten ALMS races,” he said. “It’s not as much fun and harder for drivers to make a good living doing this when we’re doing seven races in a season and you’ve got a wife that’s trying to kick you out of the house because you’re home too much.
“I wish we could do more. Obviously the reason behind it is mostly costs. But when you actually think about it, everybody on our team is full-time employees so adding races, we don’t have to add staff.
“It would be nice if we looked at that again in the future. IndyCar seems to be adding races as well as Formula 1. It would be nice if sports cars could get back to those double digits.”
While having a shorter season, the class has seen off-season growth, with six full-season entries as well as additional cars for the Michelin Endurance Cup races.
“It’s nice to see the formula start to take off in IMSA,” Dalziel said. “It’s a shame that it’s probably coming a little too late with the new rules coming out.
“Having a consistent six to eight cars for us, and a pretty big field at Sebring and Daytona.”