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Montoya predicts tougher Rolex 24

The Montoya/Pruett/Rojas Ganassi Riley-LexusJuan Pablo Montoya thinks this year's Daytona 24 Hours could be a tougher challenge than his previous attempts at the race, as he bids to complete a hat-trick of victories.

The Colombian won on his Rolex 24 debut two years ago and repeated the feat last year, driving for Grand Am champions Chip Ganassi Racing. This year he teams up with Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas again, but predicts that claiming another win will be harder given the competition level.

"This race is always tough but this year I think it's going to be tougher," Montoya told autosport.com. "The Porsches and the Fords are quick, Penske is here again, so it's going to be difficult.

"We have a great team and with Scott and Memo we should be pretty good. For the team it would be the fourth win as they've won it already three times before.

"You've got to be good, you've got to be fast, but you know how these races are, anything can happen and to win it everything has got to go your way. You have to do the laps and see where you are in the end."

Montoya will drive for the first time in the second stint of the race, taking over from Pruett, with whom he has won the race for the past two years. The American will take the start from fourth on the grid.

Although he believes their Lexus-powered Riley to be down on power relative to some of the Porsche and Ford-engined cars, the American doesn't expect that to prevent them from being competitive during the race.

"That's about what we expected to run in qualifying," said Pruett. "I think the Lexus guys did a real good job, but we're a little bit behind on the powerplant. For 24 hours, it's not going to make a difference.

"The Ganassi guys have done a great job, as always, and we've got a great car for the race. We've worked on race set-up, and we're real pleased about that. With a little bit of luck we will be fighting for victory in the end."

Both Montoya and Pruett are looking to be the first drivers to win the Daytona 24 Hours for three consecutive years. Peter Gregg won the event three times between 1973 and 1976, but in 1974 the race was cancelled due to the energy crisis.

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