During last weekends ‘Roar Before the 24’ practice session for the Rolex 24 endurance race, Ford driver Ryan Dalziel ran an unparalleled lap of 1:39.973 using his Roush Yates engine. The laptime is poigniant because Dalziel unofficially broke the track record for a Daytona Prototype (DP) class for a lap around the Daytona International Speedway’s 3.56-mile course.

Dalziel is the reigning Rolex 24 winner and drove a BMW during the majority of the 2010 season, but decided to switch to Ford motors for the 2011 season. The switch is already paying off, and Dalziel couldn’t be more excited about his chances for a repeat victory with 2011 co drivers Mike Forest, Colin Braun, and Tomas Enge.

“We are contenders, and we’ve proven that now” said Dalziel. “I think we could have gone faster. I didn’t put together a perfect lap, and we didn’t have a qualifying setup on the car. I know we’ve got more”.

Car owner Peter Baron credits engineer Bill Riley for the success of the no.8 Starworks Motorsport Riley Ford during Sunday’s practice session. Riley has been working on set up options since August of last year and both owner and engineer can’t wait until the January 29th race.

“We spent a lot of time in the off season working on setup ideas with the new Continental tire and were anxious to test at Daytona for the first time with a Ford engine,” said Baron. “Setting the record at a horsepower track like Daytona is awesome. I’m more than impressed with the engine package Roush Yates has provided us with and I’m looking forward to our chances in the Rolex 24.”

Roush Yates has a total of eight engines running in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the most of any manufacturer in the field. Ford teams Michael Shank Racing and Doran Racing were also at the top of the speed charts during last Sunday’s test session. It remains to be seen just how well the Roush Yates powered cars will do in the Rolex 24, but after the ‘Roar Before the 24’, confidence is high for a number of top finishes, not least with Dalziel.