Franchitti brothers Dario and Marino will both drive BMW-powered Riley prototypes for the Chip Ganassi Racing team in this month’s Daytona 24-Hours, but the Bathgate duo will go head-to-head in different cars.
While double IndyCar champ, 36-year-old Dario, will drive the No2 Ganassi car, 30-year-old Marino, the former British GT champ and current American Le Mans Series racer, will lead the team’s assault in the No1 car.
Both cars took turns topping the timesheets in the weekend’s first official test at the 3.56-mile Daytona course, which went ahead despite the ice and snow showers which hit the Florida track.
“It’s going to be terrific not only to be in the same team as my brother, but to race against him in an identical car,” Marino — who will be partnered by former Grand-Am champs and Daytona winners Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, plus IndyCar race-winner Justin Wilson from Sheffield — said today.
“It’s not the weather you’d expect in Florida, but we’re going to be putting a lot of hard work in ahead of the race in three weeks and I’m confident we can get both cars on the podium.”
Dario meanwhile, who won the Daytona 24-hours — which includes part of the blisteringly-fast superspeedway as well as the tricky in-field section — in 2008, is eager to repeat his victory before bidding to retain his IndyCar title with Ganassi.
“Sure it would be fantastic to win here again and get the year off to a winning start,” the Scot, who will team up with former Indy champs and Indy500 winners Juan Pablo Montoya and Scott Dixon, plus Nascar driver Jamie McMurray explained.
Both brothers immediately showed how competitive they and their BMW-Rileys in the first official test session at the track yesterday. While Dario’s car topped the timesheets with a lap of 1min 43.325secs, Marino was sixth-fastest.
The Franchitti brothers will also be joined by two other Scots on the Daytona grid. Wishaw’s Ryan Dalziel, a Grand-Am race winner and who finished second at Daytona in ‘07, posted the second-quickest time in testing in his Porsche-Riley, just 0.078s behind the lead BMW.
In the lighter GT class, Edinburgh’s Robin Liddell topped the timesheets with a time of 1:50.565. The Scot will be partnered in his Camaro GT-R by Andrew Davis and former Stewart Grand Prix racer Jan Magnussen for the Daytona 24-Hours on January 30/31.