Scots gunning for Daytona successposted in MSPOR28 | 01 | 2011

    SCOTS DARIO Franchitti and Ryan Dalziel will start from the top five positions when America's Blue Riband sportscar race, the 49th Daytona 24-Hours — or, to give it it's proper name, the Rolex 24 at Daytona —  gets underway in Florida tomorrow. Both are past winners of the classic endurance race.

    While the Porsche of Jorg Bergmeister grabbed pole position, lapping the 3.56-mile circuit in 1min 40.099secs, last year's winner, Dalziel, lines up fourth in his Ford- Riley Daytona Prototype.

    The 28-year-old from Wishaw warmed up for the race by breaking the lap record at the bumpy street circuit earlier in the month, lapping in 1m 39.793secs, an average of 128.194mph on the 12-turn track.

    "Sure, pole position would have been good," Dalziel, whose car qualified just only 0.151s behind Bergmeister in fourth, admitted today, "but like last year, what really counts is who finishes first on Sunday.

    "The important thing we take from the qualifying session is we know we have a quick car this weekend, and we know from all our testing that the car is reliable," Dalziel, partnered by former F1 racer Tomas Enge, Nascar star Colin Braun and sportscar aces Jim Lowe and Mike Forest, continued.

    "We all know how to be successful in this race and I'm desperate to become the first Scotsman to win Daytona twice." If Dalziel is to achieve that, he knows he must finish ahead of the Riley-BMW driven by triple IndyCar champ and double Indy500 winner Franchitti.

    "I think we're in for a tough, tough weekend," admitted Franchitti, fifth on the grid and partnered by Ganassi IndyCar team-mate Scott Dixon, ex-F1 winner Juan Pablo Mntoya, and Nascar runner Jamie McMurray.

    "There's 50 cars on the grid and the pace in qualifying has been blistering. The top 10 were covered by just 0.729s, so it's tight; very tight. But the Ganassi team has been over this course before.

    "I won here in 2008 to complete a hat-trick of wins for the team, so it would be fantastic to get the season off to a great start by winning again; but 24 hours is a long, long time, and anything can happen. But we're definitely in with a chance of winning again."

    Caption: Scotland's Ryan Dalziel (centre) flies the flag after winning the Daytona 24-Hours last year.

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    Jim McGill

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