Starworks Motorsports’ drivers Ryan Dalziel and Alex Popow defended their 2012 win at the Grand Am Rolex Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Friday evening, scoring their first win of the 2013 season thanks to the team’s recent switch to BMW power.
The Starworks drivers were as good as the competition; the Ford powerplant, not so much. Given an engine equal to their competitors, Dalziel and Popow ascended to the top of the podium.
Starworks, which has run Riley-Fords since joining the Rolex series in 2010, decided to switch after failing to earn a win after seven races this season—all of which races were won by cars using BMW or Chevrolet power. In fact, Alex Popow passed a Chevy-powered car for the first time all season early in the Brickyard Grand Prix.
Starworks made a Deal with Engine builders Dinan ???? for one of the latest Rolex-approved BMW engine, a 4.5-liter V8 mated with a six-speed gearbox. The team could have chosen the older 5-liter V8, but the series mandated that the larger engine use only a five-speed box. (Multiple Rolex champion Telmex Ganassi also opted for the 4.5-liter v8 in place of the 5-liter they had used for several seasons.)
Just to play it safe Starworks went with the proven 5-liters in the #8 car, which has fewer championship points.
Of course, nobody at Starworks would ever say that the Ford engine was down on power, but everybody could see the performance differential.
Power plays a huge role at Indianapolis: the road course uses half of the famous oval, and cars run for almost 30 seconds at full gas on the long straights.
At the Brickyard, the team had the speed to match the competition, and the driving talent of Dalziel and Popow in the #2 Starworks Riley-BMW had a chance to make a difference.
North American Endurance Championship
Starworks was not able to repeat as winners of the North American Endurance Championship, a three-race mini-series within the Rolex series. The NEAC is decided by points scored at the season-open Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, and the Brickyard Grand Prix.
The Starworks car didn’t score enough points in the first two races to hold onto the title. Instead, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas in the #01 Telmex-Ganassi Riley-BMW scored enough points by finishing second at Indy to snatch the 2013 NEAC, and the $100,000 that comes with it.
Pruett nearly lost and then nearly won the race. After spinning off the track at Turn Seven on lap 63, Pruett dropped from third to fifteenth. The old master doesn’t often make that kind of mistake, and when he does, he focuses more tightly and really shows his skill.
Pruett went from fifteenth to eighth in twenty laps, to fifth five laps later after. Another five laps and Pruett was fourth. On lap 102 he put the #01 into third, pushing past Alec Gurney in the #99 Gainsco Riley-Corvette, and advancing to second when leader Rubens Barrichello needed to pit for a splash of fuel.
Pruett had five laps to close a gap of seven seconds to Dalziel. He managed to cut the gap in half, finishing 3.5 seconds behind the Starworks entry. Pruett and co-driver Memo Rojas would have preferred the top of the podium, but team owner Chip Ganassi was probably just as happy with the cash—racing is expensive.
Segal and Pappis Get Season’s First GT Win for Ferrari, Stevenson Takes GT NEAC
Jeff Segal and Max Pappis in the #61 R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport Ferrari 458 scored the first win for Ferrari in 2013, finishing a healthy eleven seconds ahead of the second-placed GT car. With three high-quality teams running Ferraris, the fact that it took eight races for one to win shows the high level of competition in the GT class.
The #57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro of Robin Liddell and John Edwards finished second earning Liddell and Stevens the GT-class NEAC. Last year’s NEAC winner, Andy Lally and John Potter in the #44 Magnus Racing Porsche, finished third.
Sylvain Tremblay and Tom Long on the #70 Mazdaspeed/SpeedSource Mazda 6 won both the race and the GX-class NEAC.
The Rolex Series races next at Road America at the VisitFlorida.com Sports Car 250 on August 10. Tickets are available through the Road America website.