Winner of the 2010 Rolex 24 Ryan Dalziel put the brand new Riley-Ford of Starworks Motorsport on pole position for the 50th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. He shares the car with Lucas Luhr, Allan McNish, Alex Popow and Enzo Potolicchio.
The Florida-based Scot claimed top spot with a lap of 1:41.119 – over a tenth – a larger margin than enjoyed by the top men of either prior practice – faster than renowned Rolex qualifier Max Angelelli who put the Suntrust Racing Corvette DP second on the grid.
“I'm a little bit surprised,” Dalziel said. “I thought the Chevys were going to be the cars to beat and I think they are going to be the cars to beat but we put together a really good lap. I think it's just an incredible job these guys have done to put our car together in such a short amount of time,” Dalziel said. “We were the last Riley to be delivered to a team. With everything that has gone on the past couple of days for us, to get the pole is very rewarding but it's a long race.”
The result followed an opening two practice sessions both topped by the new Corvette DP car, Angelelli leading the first session, which Dalziel and the rest of the no.8 crew missed entirely while a new Ford powerplant was fitted in their car. They were only able to log 45 minutes running in a second practice shortened when Darren Law's Action Express DP Corvette expired fierily.
Niether the no.5 car Law shares with David Donahue and Christian Fittipaldi, not the no.01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley driven by Joey Hand, Graham Rahal, Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett played any part in the quick fire qualifying session owing to engine maladies in second practice.
Both will be forced to start the race from the rear of the Daytona Prototype field.
The sister Ganassi Riley-BMW qualified third fastest in the hands of Indycar driver Scott Dixon. Alex Gurney put the Gainsco/Bob Stallings fourth ahead of Spirit of Daytona Racing, Michael Shank Racing and the surviving Action Express Racing Corvette.
Of the five older style Daytona Prototype cars Michael McDowell was the fastest man in Michael Shank's no.6 Riley-Ford. The NASCAR regular will share the car with South Americans Gustavo Yacaman, Jorge Goncalves and Felipe Nasr.
The 50+Predator/Alegra entered Riley-BMW, with a driving line-up of four over 50s that includes AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson will start the race from 11th.
In the separate qualifying session for the 40-odd GT cars the famed Brumos Racing no.59 claimed the pole position thanks to Andrew Davis. The squad are four time overall winners of the event of the course of the 50 years, and have five time winner Hurley Haywood as one of four drivers alongside Marc Lieb and Leh Keen.
“That was an intense session,” Davis said. “I just pushed as hard as I could from the first lap out. The Brumos crew, we struggled in the first couple of [practice] sessions so this is very expected. It just shows that Brumos Racing doesn't stop fighting. That's the best that I car had been on balance.”
With 41 cars setting a time during the lightning fast 15 minute session possession of provisional pole changed hands several times with the narrowest of margins splitting positions at the fall of the checkered flag.
Davis' time (1:49.342) was just 0.015 seconds faster than Jeff Segal's best time in the AIM Autosport run, FXDD backed Ferrari 458 – one of several models of cars making its Rolex Series debut at Daytona this week.
In total 15 cars – down to the Oryx Racing Audi R8 – another debuting car, and another car to have problems in the earlier practice session – were covered by less than a second.
Three further practice sessions follow – a single two hour night session on Thursday and two shorter sessions on Friday morning – before the race starts at 3:30pm local time (8:30pm UK time) on Saturday.
The Checkered Flag will have full coverage of the event through the entire race.