Scots racers Dario Franchitti and Ryan Dalziel will go head-to-head in this weekend’s Daytona 24-Hours race in Florida, the season opener in the Grand-Am Championship.
But while 27-year-old Wishaw driver Dalziel will contest the full Grand-Am season, for Franchitti the Daytona outing marks his only scheduled race in sportscars this year.
“At the moment, after this I’ll be concentrating on retaining the IndyCar title I won last year,” the 36-year-old from Bathgate, who will start Saturday’s race from fourth on the grid in his Ganassi Riley-BMW, explained today.
“Racing at Daytona is a blast and it would be terrific to win it again and make it two wins in three outings, but we know it’s going to be tough. It’s a long, long race and the competition this year is very high. We’re going to have to work bloody hard.”
Franchitti, who won the race in 2008, will be partnered at the 3.56-mile Daytona circuit by Indy champs and Indy500 winners Juan Pablo Montoya and Scott Dixon, plus Nascar driver Jamie McMurray.
Dalziel meanwhile, who leads the assault by the Action Express Racing team, is equally confident he can improve on his second-place finish in the race and win this weekend in his Riley-Porsche Prototype.
“Being runner-up in 2007 I know what it takes to get to the podium,” the Orlando-based Scot, partnered by Americans Terry Borcheller, Joao Barbosa and Mike Rockenfeller, said.
“I know we have everything in this team to give us the best chance not just of getting on the podium, but of winning the race.”
Italian Max Angelelli will start from pole in his Dallara-Ford after lapping in 1min 40.681secs, nearly half a second clear of the Riley-Ford of nearest rival Oswaldo Negri Jr. Franchitti’s best lap was 1:41.147, just 0.456s quicker than Dalziel who starts eighth.