In one of the most significant driver moves likely to come this off-season, Ryan Dalziel has joined Extreme Speed Motorsports for the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season.
The 31-year-old Scot, who spent the better part of the last decade with the Peter Baron-owned Starworks outfit, will make the switch to ESM next year, sharing the wheel of the No. 01 Tequila Patron-sponsored HPD ARX-03b with team owner Scott Sharp.
It marks a return to P2 machinery for Dalziel, who took class wins at the Twelve Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans, plus being part of the FIA World Endurance Championship-winning Starworks team in 2012 with the same Wirth Research-designed prototype.
Dalziel is also a former overall winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, which will kick off the TUDOR Championship in January.
“The decision for me, it was pretty irregardless of which chassis or combination ESM were going to run,” Dalziel told Sportscar365 in an exclusive interview. “My decision to go there would have been whether they’d be running a DP or a P2. I felt that it was the right time to move from Starworks.
“I’ve had a great relationship with Peter and we’ve had great success over the years. I want everyone to know how much I appreciate what he’s done for my career and I owe this opportunity largely to him.
“But I feel like this is a chance to branch out and the right place to be. I didn’t even waste any time shopping around. As soon as we started talking and had the offer on the table, I pretty much accepted it.
“ESM is one of the best organizations in sports cars and they have great things in place. Even for next year, I think people are going to see a big step up for them. Hopefully I can help bring them some more success.”
The ESM squad is coming off its debut season in the prototype ranks, following a late move to HPD machinery less than six weeks before Sebring.
With a win at Long Beach and maximum points also at Lime Rock, Sharp finished runner-up in the P2 drivers’ championship. He finished the season with co-driver Anthony Lazzaro, after Guy Cosmo left for Level 5 Motorsports mid-year.
The team also confirmed Tuesday that Johannes van Overbeek and Ed Brown will return to the No. 02 entry next year. Endurance drivers for both entries will be announced at a later date.
“I am extremely excited to welcome Ryan to ESM,” Sharp said. “I truly feel he is the perfect fit – super fast in everything he drives, technically committed, a team player, and a really great guy. I think he will fit into exactly what we’ve and the rest of the team have been building for the last four years.”
Dalziel will get his first experience with the Florida-based squad next month in pre-season Balance of Performance testing at Sebring and Daytona, which will mark the first time both DP and P2 cars will be on track together in the new Prototype class.
“I’m definitely relieved that on our side of it that we can get our heads down, just get to work and get to the November test and see how things stack up,” Dalziel said. “It will be interesting.
“I know what kind of speed the DP runs at Daytona and I know what kind of speed the P2 runs at Le Mans. I’m curious how they’re going to make this add up.
“There’s some rumors of other P2 cars floating around with new teams coming in. I hope more P2 cars do come because I wouldn’t want to be the only two P2 cars out there.”
ESM was the first team to commit to fielding P2 cars for next year, but it’s understood they’ll be joined by no fewer than four other ACO-spec prototypes for the season.