After a season away, Ryan Dalziel is looking forward to again making a run for the Pirelli World Challenge GT championship, as part of CRP Racing’s brand-new Mercedes-AMG GT3 effort.
The amiable Scott joins the team which campaigned an Audi R8 LMS ultra for Kyle Marcelli to a 10th place result in the GT championship and will be switching to the Mercedes platform.
Dalziel, who finished third in the 2015 driver standings in an EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, said the decision to join the Nick Short-led operation was a product of his time racing against the team in the past.
“I’ve kind of floated around the World Challenge paddock from 2013, did one race, then ’14 did the last third of the year, then ’15 did the whole championship,” Dalziel told Sportscar365.
“I remember in ’14, for me one of the toughest teams was CRP with the Audi with Mike Skeen.
“My engineer at the time at EFFORT was good friends with Nick Short, the owner at CRP, and we kind of found ourselves often in ’15 comparing notes a little bit. Both were single privateer teams, and we just all kind of became friends.
“I got to know Nick pretty well through 2015 and we actually tried to put something together in 2016 and it was just too late. I had already committed to the TruSpeed coaching deal with Sloan Urry and there were going to be too many conflicts.
“We kept in touch during the year. I had a presence in the paddock with my coaching role and we kept talking about it.”
Dalziel’s deal with CRP comes in addition to a role in Tequila Patron ESM’s return to IMSA competition in the all-new Ligier Nissan DPi, after two seasons in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
He said his previous experience splitting time between the two series and being forced to miss three rounds of the PWC championship due to scheduling conflicts between the two series was the only holdup on getting this deal done for 2017.
“The intent was there to do it,” Dalziel said. “The delay was confirming that the schedules weren’t going to conflict because it wasn’t fair to EFFORT [Racing] and Porsche that I had to miss those couple of races [in 2015] and ultimately the drivers championship.
“I don’t want to do that again. I was assured that there were going to be no conflicts so we had to wait while everything was finalized and we started to put the deal together.”
Dalziel praised the IMSA and PWC leadership for cooperating in creating schedules that make it possible for drivers to compete in both series full time.
“It’s the first time I can remember that [World Challenge and IMSA] are working together instead of against each other,” he said.
“I really applaud the leaders on both sides for that. It was something that the drivers and crew and PR guys and journalists, everyone wanted this to happen this way.
“To me there’s no competition between what IMSA do and what World Challenge do. There’s room for both to exist. I’m glad. I get to do two full seasons, and I look forward to both.
“The schedule’s great, great venues, there’s no conflicts, so I’m looking forward to two championships if possible.”
Interestingly, Dalziel said he had committed to CRP in PWC in principal even before the team’s manufacturer decision had been finalized.
“My commitment was to the team even before they had committed to Mercedes,” he said. “It was narrowed down to three manufacturers.
“Obviously they had the relationship with Audi, Mercedes, and there was one other manufacturer that was kind of a long shot. It was really between continuing with Audi in their new car or going to Mercedes in their new car.
“Like I said, I had committed to Nick no matter what route he had gone with the car.”
Dalziel said the team expects to take delivery on the new car in January and begin testing shortly thereafter in preparations for the season opener in St. Petersburg in March.
Although the Mercedes-AMG is new to both driver and team, he said there was no doubt that this pairing has the potential to challenge for the championship.
“There were a couple of other deals on the table, and I believe this is [my] best opportunity to win a championship,” Dalziel said.
“We’ll see if other Mercedes turn up. I believe there will be a couple more, but I think we have a great team that I’ve admired from afar.
“I like the fact that it’s family run and everyone there is committed to making it a successful program.
“I think Nick’s a great guy and I’m a big fan of someone being the underdog and I think that passion is more important than anything else. I just like the passion of the team, so hopefully it’s a good fit.”