Ryan Dalziel thought their race was over after an electrical glitch in the closing hours nearly denied Tequila Patron ESM victory in Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans.
The No. 2 Nissan Onroak DPi took top honors in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale, in a wild final 30 minutes that saw the top two running cars forced to serve penalties for on-track incidents.
However, 90 minutes prior to that, the No. 2 car had drama of its own, with a deteriorating alternator causing serious concerns within the Florida-based camp.
Dalziel pitted from the lead while under the race’s 12th full-course caution with two hours to go, but was forced to do a complete systems reset, in hopes of solving the issue, which saw him relinquish the lead in the pits.
“When I was finishing my stint, we had a long pit stop for an electrical issue,” Dalziel told Sportscar365.
“We had an alternator or ECU that was failing and we had to do a full car reset, which we couldn’t do until the refueling was done because the car was working the pumps in the fuel tank.
“We thought it was over at that point. We came in [from] the lead, felt like we had a pretty dominant package up front. We thought it slipped away again, at no fault of ours.
“To come back from that was pretty cool.”
A storming closing stint by Brendon Hartley and pair of penalties to both the No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Filipe Albuquerque and the sister No. 22 ESM entry of Pipo Derani helped put the No. 2 car in victory lane.
Dalziel Relishing First Win with ESM
Remarkably, Saturday’s race was Dalziel’s long-awaited first win with ESM, in his fourth year with the Florida-based squad.
The Scot missed out on the team’s sweep of the ‘Florida 36 Hours’ last year as he was in Visit Florida Racing’s full-season DP entry, with Pipo Derani and Johannes van Overbeek picking up ESM’s first win in the new Prototype era at Road America in August.
“It’s been a long time coming for me personally,” Dalziel said. “You start having these little doubts in the back of your head that maybe it’s not going to happen for you.
“We feel like we’ve had so many that slipped away. 2014 we had a dominant package that we couldn’t quite close it.
“I’m super happy for the opportunity from Scott [Sharp] and Ed [Brown]. I’m really stoked for the team. I’m disappointed it wasn’t a 1-2 for the team, in either order.
“But I think the two cars have had a lot of attrition in the last three or four races. Our guys truly deserve this one. We had the dominant car all race.”
Dalziel predicts a tough fight ahead next year with the arrival of both Joest and Penske, although said Penske’s strong run this past weekend with an Oreca 07 Gibson may not necessarily translate to instant success with its new Acura ARX-05 DPi.
“It will be interesting to see how their package works,” he said. “Obviously we have a good experience with the Honda. It’s going to be pretty much the same motor we developed for them.
“I’m looking forward to next season getting going and having a ton of DPis on the grid.
“I think it’s going to be the best grid we’ve had in North America for prototypes in a decade.”