LEXINGTON, Ohio – Ryan Dalziel, Michael Mills and Lawson Aschenbach have taken GT, GT-A and GTS victories in a rain-shortened Round 11 of the Pirelli World Challenge season, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge Presented by StopTech.
In what was the reverse of Friday’s Touring Car race, the weather conditions shifted from dry to wet, and intensifying rain forced the early conclusion to what had been a scheduled 50-minute timed race. Once the rain hit, course conditions shifted from yellow to red and checkered, and the race declared final by Race Control after a race time of 35 minutes and 55.908 seconds. The last completed lap was Lap 19.
Dalziel, of Winter Park, Fla., started fourth in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche GT3 R but advanced into third right off the line behind polesitter Mike Skeen, of Charlotte, N.C., in the No. 2 Hawk Performance Audi R8 Ultra and Johnny O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, Ga., in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R, who’d made a dynamic start from seventh up to second. O’Connell’s start, fittingly, was named the Cadillac CTS-V Move of the Race.
Before the race had too much chance to get going, a multicar accident involving Marcelo Hahn, Craig Capaldi and Mitch Landry, among others, forced the race to go under caution on the first lap. The near-50 car field had made it away cleanly through Turn 1 following the standing start.
On Lap 6 the race resumed with Skeen in the lead and Dalziel able to make the move on O’Connell for second, exiting Turn 1.
The top three were able to continue their battle from there, Skeen ahead of Dalziel with O’Connell close, before rain hit the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with just over 15 minutes remaining.
The rain prompted a full-course caution on Lap 17, and also affected strategies. O’Connell and Skeen took the opportunity to pit for rain tires, while Dalziel, who was making his first start this season, gambled that the race would not resume.
As the rain progressed from a steady rain to a near downpour, Race Control determined the course was unsafe to continue racing. Dalziel was in the lead at the time the course conditions shifted, with Lap 19 confirmed as the last completed lap. The win is Dalziel’s first in Pirelli World Challenge.
“We figured we’d won but just needed confirmation, and I was wondering what would happen to Skeen,” Dalziel said. “We stayed out despite the conditions; it’s a shame to finish like that. Hopefully I didn’t make myself look too bad and I’m really thankful for EFFORT Racing providing the opportunity. It’s difficult to jump between an HPD and a Porsche GT3 R.”
He added of the start and his battle: “The McLarens (Alex Figge and Robert Thorne) got a bad getaway, and I got a great start. Johnny was right on my rear. I like racing with Johnny, as he’s always clean. We were starting to chip away at Mike. The strength of this car is the tires over a run; unfortunately the end occurred under yellow and we didn’t get a chance to hunt Skeen down for the win on track.”
O’Connell was classified second with Skeen third. O’Connell will add to his points lead after finishing ahead of his top title rival.