Wishaw’s Ryan Dalziel was the fastest Scot in qualifying ahead of tomorrow’s Daytona 24-Hours in Florida. While the 26-year-old lines up in fifth, Bathgate’s Dario Franchitti — bidding to repeat his victory of 12 months ago — starts eighth.
“I’m really happy with our qualifying performance,” Dalziel, making his race debut in the Miami-based Alegra Motorsport’s BMW-Riley Prototype, said today. “For our first time out with the car, it’s very impressive and will have surprised a few people.”
While Alegra have previously won the Daytona GT Championship, this is their first season in the larger Prototype class, yet Dalziel’s best lap round the 3.56-mile road course of 1min 40.915secs was just 0.375s off pole.
“We’re quick, we know that,” Dalziel — who will be co-driven by American owner-driver Carlos de Quesada, fellow American Chapman Ducote, Canadian Jean-Francois Dumoulin and Czech ace Tomas Enge — continued, “but we also know the car’s 100% reliable.”
Franchitti meanwhile, who won last year partnered with Colombian ex-F1 ace Juan-Pablo Montoya and American Scott Pruett, again contests America’s Blue Riband sportscar event in a Ganassi Lexus-Riley Prototype.
“We’re happy with where we are on the grid,” the former Indy500 winner and IndyCar champ, eighth on the grid, 0.401s slower than Dalziel, admitted. “There’s a hell of a distance to travel when the lights turn green, so being eighth isn’t a problem.
“We’ve been here before and the team know exactly what we have to do to win. We also know it’s going to be a hell of a race, but we can’t wait to get started.”
Franchitti is partnered this year by last year’s IndyCar champ, New Zealander Scott Dixon, and American Alex Lloyd. The third Scot contesting the event, Edinburgh’s Robin Liddell, starts a frustrating 19th in the GT class.
“We just didn’t manage to get a clear lap and we seemed to be handicapped by slower cars every time we went out,” Liddell, partnered by Americans Andrew Davis and Jeff Bucknum in the Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R, explained.
“Still, anything can happen in the race. We’re fast and if we get the lucky breaks everybody needs ina 24-hour race, then we could yet be up there pushing for a podium place. I won the GT class and finished second overall five years ago. To do something similar this year would be fantastic.”
Forty years after his father Mike Donohue started the race from pole position, American David Donohue bagged the No1 slot on the grid when he edged out the Penske-Porsche of Timo Bernhard by just 0.001sec.
Donohue, driving his Brumos Porsche-Riley, clocked a best time of 1:40.540, an average of 127.472mph, to lead the 52-car field.