While not having been part of Tequila Patron ESM’s Florida 36-hour sweep, Ryan Dalziel feels the team’s recent string of success has brought a much-needed boost ahead of their second season of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Dalziel returns to the Scott Sharp and Ed Brown-led squad at this weekend’s Prologue pre-season test, after oddly being in a competing car in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring, both races which ESM claimed overall honors in.
“I think it was needed, more than anything,” Dalziel said on ESM’s success. “It also it justifies Scott and Ed’s decision to make the employee changes, the team changes that we did. Also, I think it justified why they went with the Ligier.
“Obviously there’s a couple of quick cars out there, but that thing hung together pretty well for the 36 hours of Florida.
“I think it was that final piece of the puzzle that we needed to get, as a team, which was success, and hopefully we can continue that success.”
While the team utilized Honda engines in its Ligier JS P2 cars last year, as well as at Daytona and Sebring, ESM moves to Nissan power for the WEC season, which has been just one of the many changes to the overall operation for 2016.
According to Dalziel, the engine swap has been an adjustment they’re still coming to grips with this weekend, in the team’s second test with the Ligier-Nissan package.
“As far as the drivability goes, it’s quite different from the Honda,” he said. “I think that’s been the hardest thing for the ESM guys, in getting back up to speed with it.
“I think the car warrants a little bit of a different driving style. It also reacts pretty different to what we had with the HPD.
“For us, it’s getting used to the reduced weight in the rear and the car setup is pretty different as far as spring rates go.”
The engine change has coincided with ESM’s operations being largely taken over by Onroak Automotive, which ran the G-Drive Racing squad last year, under the direction of Philippe Dumas.
“We just felt it was the best package to go to, especially as it’s the championship-winning team and car,” Dalziel said.
“We didn’t have the pace of the G-Drive/OAK cars last year, so it made sense for us to take over what they had and continue to work with it.”
Dalziel, who is competing in all but one race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in Visit Florida Racing’s Corvette DP, said he had mixed emotions in the opening two rounds.
But being back with the team and alongside new co-drivers in Chris Cumming and Pipo Derani, the Florida-based Scot has high hopes for the season ahead in WEC.
“I’m on one hand happy Sebring is over. It’s kind of like I flipped a page for 2016 and I can now support both teams again,” Dalziel said.
“I’m super happy to be back with the team. Patron are family to me. I’m glad that it all worked out the way it did in that I’m not going to miss any WEC races or Le Mans.
“Silverstone is obviously a home race for me in the WEC calendar. It’s one of my favorite tracks so I’m looking forward to getting back there.
“We had a great result there this past year. So we’re looking forward to getting back on the podium.
“It seems like it’s been a long time since I’ve been on the podium with these guys. I’m looking forward to getting things back together.”