It’s been 11 years since Ryan Dalziel won in a prototype at Mid-Ohio, but his extensive experience at the track has left him with some thoughts about the place:
a) It’s difficult.
b) He’s prepared for difficulty.
Dalziel will return to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend for the Lexus Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio after a three-year absence. He’s had some success there – an IMSA prototype win in 2011 and four Grand Touring (GT) wins in other series – so he feels like experience is an added bonus.
“It’s a track I’ve always personally done pretty well at,” Dalziel said. “Low grip, always tough conditions, but looking forward to it.”
He’ll arrive in good shape. Dalziel and teammate Dwight Merriman took the lead in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) driver standings of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship after a runner-up finish earlier this month at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
“We knew going into Laguna that we had a pretty strong car from last year,” Dalziel said. “We had a pretty rough start to the race, as did a lot of the LMP2s, just the nature of the cold track. It’s quite tough in the P2 car getting the tires up (to proper operating pressures and temperatures).”
In 2011, Dalziel teamed with Enzo Potolicchio to win the Daytona Prototype (DP) class at Mid-Ohio in the Starworks Motorsports Ford/Riley. Dalziel followed that with four consecutive GT wins. He knows the characteristics of the 13-turn, 2.258-mile circuit.
“I’m one of those people who believes that a good driver should be able to figure out – no matter what he’s driving – how to make a car go fast, and how to make it go fast around certain tracks,” Dalziel said. “For my driving style, it’s always been a good track for me.”
In many ways, Mid-Ohio is similar to WeatherTech Raceway, where Dalziel and Merriman teamed in the No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA LMP2 07 to finish second in LMP2 in the race on May 1 behind the No. 8 Tower Motorsport ORECA co-driven by Louis Deletraz and John Farano. That followed a third-place finish in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts in March.
It moved the Era co-drivers into the lead in the LMP2 driver standings, 33 points ahead of Deletraz and Farano. With all its twists and turns, Mid-Ohio could hold a crucial outcome in the championship battle since at the conclusion on Sunday, the LMP2 class will be halfway through its six points-paying races.
“It doesn’t really matter what car it is; I feel like the same qualities go into making lap times at a place like that,” Dalziel said. “Hopefully that helps me. I definitely feel fairly confident going into it. It’s one of the tracks that I probably feel a bit more confident.”
Whatever may come, Era Motorsport is ready for it.
“We were strong at Laguna pretty much from when we unloaded,” Dalziel said. “Mid-Ohio is just a continuation of that. … Consistency is the most important thing.”