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IMSA Daytona 24 Hours

Rasmussen pace key to “sitting duck” Era’s LMP2 Daytona 24 Hours win

Three-time Daytona 24 Hours winner Ryan Dalziel says the late-race speed of IndyCar part-timer Christian Rasmussen was crucial to Era Motorsport’s Daytona 24 Hours LMP2 success.

#18 Era Motorsport ORECA LMP2-Gibson: Dwight Merriman, Ryan Dalziel, Christian Rasmussen

Scotsman Dalziel, who won the Daytona 24 overall in 2010 and the LMP2 class in 2021, made it a hat-trick despite a straightline speed deficit to its class rivals, which were led by Malthe Jakobsen’s Crowdstrike by APR entry in the final stint.

Rasmussen – who shared the car with Dalziel, Connor Zilisch and Dwight Merriman – took the checkered flag, which came out a lap early, six seconds clear of fellow Dane Jakobsen after a sparkling run to the finish following a late caution.

“There were probably four cars could have easily had the pace to win at the end, but I think us and the Crowdstrike car seemed to have a little bit better long pace,” said Dalziel.

“I think mainly we kind of gambled. We were probably the most high downforce of the P2s, which we were a little bit sitting ducks when we had somebody drafting us.

“But when we could kind of break that one and a half, two seconds, the draft in the P2 car is almost 10 kilometers an hour. Once we were in the front, we could manage a little bit the pace in the infield.

“It's just a good day. I think each one I've won has felt more special, so this one is cool. But these two guys, Christian was a stud for us; Connor the same.”

#18 Era Motorsport ORECA LMP2-Gibson: Dwight Merriman, Ryan Dalziel, Christian Rasmussen, #04 CROWDSTRIKE Racing by APR ORECA LMP2-Gibson: George Kurtz, Colin Braun, Toby Sowery, Malthe Jakobsen, #74 Riley ORECA LMP2-Gibson: Gar Robinson, Felipe Fraga, Josh Burdon, Felipe Massa

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

#18 Era Motorsport ORECA LMP2-Gibson: Dwight Merriman, Ryan Dalziel, Christian Rasmussen, #04 CROWDSTRIKE Racing by APR ORECA LMP2-Gibson: George Kurtz, Colin Braun, Toby Sowery, Malthe Jakobsen, #74 Riley ORECA LMP2-Gibson: Gar Robinson, Felipe Fraga, Josh Burdon, Felipe Massa

Rasmussen rued the late yellow flag, which put his victory in jeopardy, and meant he had to push immediately at the restart to be able to eclipse the Crowdstrike entry.

“They were definitely the car to beat for us,” he said. “They were the closest all race long really.

“Then the last stint, it came down to a caution, and I had a huge gap from I think like 15 seconds, and then obviously all of that disappeared. But I felt fairly confident.

“I was just slowly pulling away right before, so I kind of knew that we had the pace to do it. It was just about getting away from the start, which I did well, and then pulled out a two-second gap and just kind of managed it from there.”

#18 Era Motorsport ORECA LMP2-Gibson: Dwight Merriman, Ryan Dalziel, Christian Rasmussen

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

#18 Era Motorsport ORECA LMP2-Gibson: Dwight Merriman, Ryan Dalziel, Christian Rasmussen

Zilisch, the 17-year-old American who has recently been signed to a driver development deal with Trackhouse Racing, was the revelation of the squad but made an early error with an off at Turn 6.

He then delivered a flawless double stint before Rasmussen rounded out the victory.

“I was sitting in the pit box there, and I couldn't even watch the race it was so nerve-racking,” he admitted. “I had complete faith in Christian. He's a badass, honestly.

“When he got out of the car, he told me he was completely chill. I was getting into the car and I was shaking. I don't know why, I never really get like that, but before that last stint when I had the double before Christian at the end, it was nerve-racking.

“It's been a wild last few weeks for me, and that's not going to let my head get big. I've still got to put in the work. I'm only 17.

“Someone told me I've got to retire. I've got a 100 percent win rate, so I've got to decide on that one. I've got a long career ahead of me hopefully, and this is just the beginning.”

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