Starworks Wins Rolex Series Season Finale at Mid-Ohio
Team holds off DP competition for 1st victory; both cars earn season-best finishes.
- (1888PressRelease) September 22, 2011 - Starworks Motorsport earned season-best finishes with both of its cars - including a victory - in Saturday's GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season finale at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Combined, the team's two cars led 42 of 97 laps, and ran nose-to-tail for several laps in the race's final hour.
Ryan Dalziel (Orlando, Fla.) led twice for a race-high 35 laps in the No. 8 Duncan/O.N.A. Ford/Riley he shared with Enzo Potolicchio (Caracas, Venezuela), and beat eventual series co-champion Scott Pruett by 0.416 seconds to give the team its first victory. Potolicchio also co-drove the No. 2 Starworks Motorsport Porsche/Riley to a season-best sixth with Mark Wilkins (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), who led seven laps. "Enzo drove great, keeping the cars that finished second and third in the championship behind him throughout his entire stint," team owner Peter Baron said. "We were representing the Venezuelan colors running 1-2 late in the race. This was the biggest international win for a Venezuelan supported car in 2011. And Ryan's drive was incredible as usual. He passed all the cars to get to the lead."
Dalziel, who took the lead from Wilkins on Lap 74, held off several challenges by Pruett over the final half hour, including a restart with four minutes remaining. Pruett also passed Wilkins moments later, but couldn't pass Dalziel. It marked the second podium in the last three races for Starworks, which debuted in 2010. It was also the first victory for Dalziel since he won the 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona and the first for rookie Potolicchio, who had never competed in a DP car before the 2011 Rolex 24. Dalziel and Potolicchio averaged 79.241 mph.
"It's been a difficult year for us," Dalziel said. "We had one of the strongest motors in the second half of the season; Ford did a really great job. We thought after Watkins Glen we were going to be tough these last two races, and I was confident Friday night we'd be good in the race. Once we got to the front, we were strong. Where we needed to be the strongest, we were, and where we weren't, we drove the crap out of it. Peter and I have been through a lot, and we have always stayed together, no matter what. This team has so many great guys. To hold off the powerhouses is incredible."
Potolicchio, who is also aiming for a Ferrari Challenge championship, drove both cars. He started the No. 8 eighth and also drove the No. 2 for a short period. "I can't describe it; it's unbelievable," Potolicchio said. "I had a great stint. This team did a great job. We almost didn't make it here; we were all around a table last week trying to figure out if we'd be here. Ryan is amazing. With the sponsors we have, we'll be contenders."
Wilkins started sixth in the No. 2 and ran there for the first 15 laps before his first pit stop, when he handed the car over to Potolicchio. Wilkins retook command of the No. 2 on Lap 26, and put the car in the lead for the first time all season on Lap 68. He led the next seven laps before he was passed by Dalziel. Wilkins eventually finished sixth, besting the car's previous best performance of seventh on three occasions. "This is a great group, a pretty neat team," said Wilkins, a late-minute addition to the team. "We got to work right away Friday and pushed hard. In the race, that last set of tires fell off. If that wasn't the case, we may have had something. If this opportunity presents itself again, I'd love to take it. It's a nice way to end the season."
Baron's last victory as a car owner came in 2008 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. He credited the victory with strong on-track competition, flawless pit stops and dedication by Ford and Roush-Yates Engines. "Our pit stops were perfect all day and Bill Riley called a perfect strategy," Baron said. "We improved three spots on our last stop. We have to thank Ford and Roush-Yates on their help; they worked on the motor all year to get this win. We surprised a lot of people Saturday," Baron continued. "But we passed everyone and earned that. We are coming back with two cars next year with more support, and thanks to Enzo and Alex (Popow), we plan to make this a regular occurrence."
- The victory was the first for a Ford-powered DP since May 2010 at Lime Rock Park
- Potolicchio became the first Venezuelan driver to win a DP race since Milka Duno in 2005.