Champ Car: Wilson and Dalziel take on Daytona challenge

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarTuesday, January 8th, 2008

 
 

Justin Wilson is one of five Champ Car drivers to take part in the first major motorsport event of the year in the US – the 2008 Daytona 24-hour challenge.

He will be joined by Scots racer Ryan Dalziel in the Daytona Prototype class when the event gets underway on January 26.

It is the 41st time that the 24-hour sports car endurance event, the opening event in the Grand-Am series, has been held.

Wilson, the 2007 Series runner-up, will share a Ford Riley entered by Michael Shank Racing alongside Graham Rahal, who as a rookie came fifth in the 2007 Champ Car point standings.

Dalziel, twice a runner-up in Champ Car Atlantics and a rookie in the 2007 Champ Car World Series, is entered in a Pontiac Riley by SAMAX Racing in the Daytona Prototype Class.

Also racing in this class is Jimmy Vasser, co-owner of PKV Racing and 1996 Champ Car title-holder, in a Pontiac Riley entered by Bob Stallings/Riley Matthews Racing.

Competing in the event’s GT class will be drivers Robert Doornbos and Jan Heylen, pitting their wits against Long Beach promoter Jim Michaelian who will share a car with his son Bob Michaelian,

Following three days of testing this past weekend, Vasser’s car was fifth fastest, the car of Wilson and Rahal was eighth fastest and Dalziel’s car was ninth overall.

Vasser was pleased with the outing and said that he likes his team’s chances in the upcoming race: “These were the first laps I have driven this year and my first time in the car since I drove with the team at Miller in practice.

“So it’s good for me to drive. From a driving aspect, it’s always good to get behind the wheel and knock a little of the rust off.

“At the end of the day you are dealing with professionals here and guys that put their head down and do their job and that’s all that matters. I haven’t seen this team waffle under pressure. If any pressure was going to come up it would have happened at Miller and they showed that they keep their cool.”

The 24 Hours of Daytona, or Rolex 24 at Daytona, to give its proper title, is a 24-hour sports car endurance race held annually at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.

It is held on a 3.56-mile road course that includes parts of the NASCAR tri-oval and an infield road course.

Since its inception, it has been held on the last weekend of January or first weekend of February, part of Speedweeks, and it is the first major automobile race of the year in the United States.

(Information from the Wikipedia article on the 24 Hours of Daytona race has been used in compiling this report.)

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