Visit Florida Racing/Tequila Patron ESM driver Ryan Dalziel knows a bit about shifting gears. But he’ll be making a huge shift after Sunday’s 12 Hours of Sebring, as he goes from trying to beat Tequila Patron ESM to trying to help them win the World Endurance Championship (WEC) in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class.
In the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener at Daytona, both teams made the podium, with Tequila Patron ESM taking the checkered flag and Visit Florida Racing placing third.
“If I wasn’t going to win, it’s the same old story where you like to see your friends do well,” Dalziel said. “Obviously, I would have liked to been on the top step, but it was pretty special to see good friends of mine win. For me it was a good indication of what our championship run in WEC is going to like. We made some pretty aggressive changes in the offseason for Patron. They came out pretty strong at Daytona, so it’s encouraging and I’m looking forward to getting started.”
Dalziel won’t have to wait long to get started, as Prologue, the WEC mandatory two-test test, takes place March at Circuit Paul Ricard at Le Castellet in the south of France on March 25 and 26. There are 10 cars entered from the LMP2 class, including the two Nissan-powered Ligiers of Tequila Patron ESM. Dalziel is scheduled to drive with Pipo Derani, who received rave reviews for his driving at Daytona, and Chris Cumming.
Dalziel was not one bit surprised to see Derani do so well after having seen him in the 2015 WEC season.
“Pipo was somebody who was on our radar all of last year,” Dalziel said. “There’s a million good young drivers these days, but it’s trying to find the one who’s going to fit in on the team and they’re going to represent the brand the best and we liked the way he handled himself last year. We got to see him up close and personal and started talking to him.”
The middle of September will be an interesting one for Dalziel, as both the WeatherTech series and the WEC will be at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
“It’s tough on double weekends like that,” he said.
Dalziel said practices could be a bit more challenging, but with three drivers in the WEC the two teams should be able to find a schedule that works for both Visit Florida Racing and Tequila Patron ESM.
“We should be able to schedule where I’m not finishing one and starting the other,” Dalziel said. “If we keep both teams on the same page, hopefully they’ll work together on scheduling that weekend and it should work out OK.”