ROOKIE RYAN DALZIEL LEADS LARGE CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES DRIVER CONTINGENT IN ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 28, 2007) -- The Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona has turned into a Who's Who of racing, with champions and great race ...
ROOKIE RYAN DALZIEL LEADS LARGE CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES DRIVER CONTINGENT IN ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 28, 2007) -- The Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona has turned into a Who's Who of racing, with champions and great race winners from around the planet gathering at Daytona for the historic twice-around-the-clock Grand American Road Racing Series event.
And for one stunning hour, Champ Car World Series rookie Ryan Dalziel was the best of them all.
With three hours to run in the 24-hour event, Dalziel not only had his #11 Citgo-sponsored machine in the lead, he was bravely fighting off the advances of former Champ Car champion Juan Pablo Montoya as well as those of former Daytona winner Max Angelelli. Dalziel held the point for the better part of an hour before falling back to second during pit stops, and ended up as the second Champ Car driver in as many years to finish second in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
Dalziel teamed with former Champ Car drivers Patrick Carpentier and Darren Manning, as well as Milka Duno, to finish second in the overall standings, matching the result put up last year by Justin Wilson and A.J. Allmendinger.
"There was absolutely no way I was going to let those guys pass me out there," Dalziel said of his battle with Montoya and Angelelli. "I was driving with bad intentions, which is the way I like it. This was 24 hours of 100 percent racing, which should help prepare me for the Champ Car season even though the cars are totally different."
Dalziel's result was the best among the six Champ Car drivers that competed in the Grand-Am season opener, with that of a recently-unretired Champ Car star following right behind. Panoz DP01 test driver and former Champ Car racewinner Roberto Moreno used his 2,500 miles of preseason testing to get ready for the 24-hour event and ended up finishing fourth as part of the Brumos Porsche team.
Oriol Servia was the fastest of all testers in last week's Sebring Champ Car testing, and carried the momentum of that success to Daytona, where he teamed up with former Champ Car drivers Memo Gidley and Michel Jourdain Jr. to finish seventh in the Kodak-sponsored Doran Racing machine.
"I loved it, I had a great time in the car and the team was a lot of fun to work with," Servia said. "Coming out here and racing helps my preparation for Champ Car as well, as even though the cars are a lot different, it gets the mental machinery moving and gets me ready for the season wherever I end up."
Katherine Legge had the honor of running the 1,000,000th lap ever run in the long history of the Rolex 24, but that was about where the fun ended for Champ Car's only female driver. Legge ended up 25th overall as part of the #84 Robinson Racing team, and learned a lot about how endurance racing works in her first attempt at America's longest event.
"It's really a race of survival," Legge said. "Some of these guys treat this like a 24-hour sprint race, but we had a bunch of small problems that kept cropping up. It's been a neat experience though and I am glad I've done it. It's something I would definitely consider doing again."
Things weren't nearly as easy for former Champ Car champions Jimmy Vasser and Paul Tracy who were eliminated from contention before they ever buckled in for their first stints in the race. Vasser was part of the polesitting #99 Gainsco-sponsored outfit, but the car was knocked out in an accident in the second lap of the race, while Tracy's car fell victim to mechanical problems early. The same fates befell the former champions last year in the Rolex 24, dooming them to a long night of running through the infield in hopes of making up a lap.
"It's disappointing to finish like this just because our car was so fast but we just ran into problems," Tracy said. "It's frustrating to be up front two years in a row but to run into trouble right off the bat. But I'll just have to come back next year and try to have some better luck."
The Champ Car stars will get back to their regular occupations February 12-13 at MSR Houston with the second of the three Champ Car open test sessions that will prepare the series for the April 6-8 season opener on the streets of Las Vegas.