A Lap Around Daytona, With Ryan Dalziel
A lap around Daytona International Speedway with defending Rolex 24 At Daytona Champion Ryan Dalziel. Ryan Dalziel 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona Champion (Action Express Porsche/Riley) 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona Runner-up (SAMAX Pontiac/Riley) Unofficial Fastest Lap/Daytona Prototype 1:39.9 (January 2011).
2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona race winner Ryan Dalziel knows his way around Daytona International Speedway, and showed that in testing as he set the fastest (unofficial ) time in the Daytona Prototype era with a time of 1:39.9 seconds around the 3.56-mile circuit as the 2011 GRAND AM Rolex Sports Car Series season got underway. Here, he talks his way through a lap aboard the Ford-Riley shod with Continental Tires.
"Approaching turn 1 is always very intimidating as a driver. The brake reference markers are actually further back than a driver expects, so we approach at almost 200mph and on a hot lap you can brake after the last brake board, 100ft. Coming down off the banking across the transition is very difficult. It's important because you load and unload the 4 corners of the car multiple times, and you have to to modulate the braking pressure so you don't lock any tires. You obviously take a few more risks in qualifying, but in the race you have to be smart.
"It's crucial at Daytona with the high speeds and banking loads not to flat spot any tires during your stint. This only ends up with an early pit stop or a driver-induced tire failure. And at Daytona, no failure is a small one. This is also a big place to pass, so when the tires are good, and you are feeling confident, you can make up some positions heading into Turn 1.
"Even though it is slow, turn 2 is very important to creating a good lap time. Staying tight up against the pit exit wall is where you find the most grip although it's also not too uncommon to drop wheels onto the dirt right there.
"Turn 3 is the first horseshoe and a tricky one at that. The infield at Daytona is fairly low grip and there is more time to be gained in car balance and grip in the infield than there is to be found on the banking. When your tires are good and the tires are at their best, this is where you can make so much time up and really hustle for a lap time.
"It's really important to not overshoot the brake zone here. It's all about exit speed and getting back to full power as early as you can. If you've got a good car, you can put all that Continental Tire rubber to the ground without any wheelspin and if you can get your car to hook up here, you know your going to be fast through the whole infield section.
"The Kink - Turn 4. Going flat (100% throttle) through the Kink isn't crucial, but just like turn 3, if you can do it flat, you know the car is working very very well. You change gears just before the kink and keep that throttle nailed. You've got to watch out for the big compression in the middle of the corner because that's what catches people out--when the front end goes light and you think your going to understeer off the race track. Then, right at the last minute, the car will hook up on the exit and your on your way to Turn 5.
"Turn 5 - This is another horseshoe like turn 2 and equally as difficult. Because of all the speed you are carrying into the corner, it's very very easy to overshoot the entry. I can guarantee that we'll have cars go off there this weekend.
"You have to remind yourself to be a little bit conservative in the brake zone, and you'll be rewarded with a good exit. Stay tight to the inside curb, run on it if that car allows you to. You are really focused on getting the Continental Tires planted and getting back to full throttle as quickly as you can.
"If you use that exit curb, it might feel a little bit bumpy, but the extra road helps the lap time. There is a quick shot of full throttle out of 5 and then right back down for 6.
"Turn 6 is the final turn before we exit back onto the oval, and it's very important. Just like all the slow corners, getting the Continental Tires hooked up and building speed heading back on to the banking is key to a fast time. Keeping the car tight, and being progressive with the throttle is key. You have to listen to what the car is telling you when you know she can take it, floor it, and off you go into NASCAR 1.
"It's flat out through NASCAR's famous turns 1 & 2, and you'll soon find yourself hauling ass down into the famed Bus Stop chicane, the final turns on the Daytona Road course. This could be the most crucial series of corners for lap time, and for sure, the most ballsy.
"After letting the car freely run out of NASCAR 2 you instantly turn your attention to finding the braking marker for turn one, which are coming fast!
"Braking anywhere earlier than the 150 foot and you just aren't trying! A strong lap time comes from the speed that you can roll through the chicane and nothing else. Braking from top gear down to 3rd, pick up that gas in the middle of the chicane and hope the car sticks on the exit. Floor it, and watch those shift lights through every gear, 3rd, 4th up to 5th.
"Drive through NASCAR (Turns) 3 & 4 and head to the start finish line. Do this and earn yourself a lap record around Daytona's Road course. And you are looking for the brake markers for turn 1 all over again!