Two years ago, Alegra Motorsports was on the top of the world, celebrating the GT class victory in the 2007 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Now, the Miami-based team is looking to do it again, except for the overall honors in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series marathon.
"We've been there and gotten on that podium before," said team owner Carlos de Quesada. "We always say that to win this race, you need the best drivers, the best crew, the best equipment and that's the minimum prerequisite. Once you have that, the rest of it is all luck. So we hope that luck will be on our side."
It's been a colossal effort for de Quesada and his organization as they step up to Daytona Prototype competition for 2009. After a partial season in GT last year, along with running a handful of events with its production-based Porsche Cayenne-powered Riley, the focus shifted solely to DP racing, but with a new powerplant.
The team switched to Steve Dinan-tuned BMW engines following the Daytona November test and posted impressive lap times at the official test day in January. Their strong run even gained the recognition of a motorsports legend that weekend.
"It's definitely a David vs. Goliath kind of story," de Quesada said. "For me, the high point was when Roger [Penske] came over and congratulated us on our performance at the last day. He's an idol and living legend here at Daytona. It was definitely a moment for us."
Now, de Quesada and co-drivers Ryan Dalziel, Chapman Ducote, Jean-Francois Dumoulin and Tomas Enge will do battle with Penske's Porsche Riley, along with 17 other DP competitors in the twice-around-the-clock classic. Full-season driver Dalziel qualified the StrategicAir-sponsored car in fifth, but his time was disallowed because of a ride height infringement caused by a broken splitter.
"With just two or three small changes, we'll be right there," Dalziel said after his qualifying run. "It's a huge accomplishment for Alegra to be challenging for a top-five spot with Ganassi and Penske. The guys have done a phenomenal job in the last six months. We have a great race car and a strong package to go forward."
Alegra is now all charged up for what could be a historic run this weekend. Never before has a team won both the Rolex 24 in the DP and GT categories. And as de Quesada admits: with a little luck, anything is possible.