Close Racing Highlights Opening Rounds of AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL. Parity Reigns Supreme as New Daytona SportBike Class Sees Several Manufacturers Contend.
The new AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL class has lived up to its billing as a showcase of close racing, top international motorcycles and some of the sport’s best riders in the opening races of the 2009 season.
Ben Bostrom (No. 1s Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6) and Danny Eslick (No. 9 Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Racing/RMR Buell 1125R) won the year’s first two races at the Daytona 200 by Honda and Saturday’s first round of the Suzuki AMA Pro Superbike Challenge, respectively, but they were only part of the competitive story. Nearly every manufacturer involved in Daytona SportBike has run at the front of the pack this year and the trend is expected to continue in race two of the Suzuki AMA Pro Superbike Challenge today at Auto Club Speedway and for the remainder of the season.
Eslick’s victory yesterday will go into the record books as the first win for Buell in major international motorcycle road racing. A quick glance of the results and data from the race, however, quickly reveals that the milestone victory for Buell was only part of the story.
The winning Buell 1125R was one of three different makes of motorcycles that hit the podium, which also included the Kawasaki of runner-up Jamie Hacking (No. 88 Monster Energy/Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R) and the Suzuki of third-place finisher Martin Cardenas (No. 36 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600). The top-three, however, were part of an overall run of six different motorcycles in the top eight, which included the Honda of fifth-place Jake Zemke (No. 1x Erion Racing Honda CBR600RR), the sixth-place Yamaha of Josh Herrin (No. 8 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6) and eighth-place finisher Chaz Davies (No. 57 Factory Aprilia Millennium Technologies Aprilia RSV1000R).
Eslick took the lead from the outside of the front row and set the fastest lap of the race (1:27.833) but the majority of his competitors were nearly as fast as the winner and, in some key parts of the track, even quicker. Eslick was only the fastest motorcycle on the track in the first segment of Turns 1 through 9 with a segment time of 50.945 seconds, leading Cardenas’ Suzuki GSX-R600 through the same section by a mere 0.019 seconds (50.964 seconds).
In the second segment from Turn 9 through Turn 15, Eslick ran third fastest (18.964 seconds), behind segment leader Cardenas by .076 seconds (18.888 seconds). The third and final segment, form Turn 15 to the Start/Finish line, saw Eslick running fifth fastest (17.744 second), .105 seconds behind Jake Zemke’s Honda CBR600RR (17.639 seconds).
By combining the fastest segment time for each rider, it appeared that Cardenas was in position to turn the fastest ideal lap time of all machines on track aboard his Suzuki GSX-R600. Using the first and third segments of his fourth lap and the second segment of his final lap, Cardenas’ perfect lap would have been 1:27.571.
Similarly, Eslick’s ideal time would be comprised of the first segment from his fifth lap, the second segment from his fourth lap, and the final segment from his third lap. This combination would have resulted in a lap time of 1:27.653, which is a full .082 of a second slower than that of Cardenas.
Eslick, who ran ahead of the field and on a clear track free from the major position battles going on just behind him, was in better position to turn consistently faster average lap times at 1:28.914. Runner-up Hacking intensely raced for position throughout the race, sacrificing lap times and returning a lap average of 1:29.036. Cardenas faced similar traffic and heated racing and ended the race with a lap time average of 1:29.021.
At Daytona, Bostrom and Herrin swept the top two finishing spots for Yamaha but the other manufacturers were firmly in the hunt. Jason DiSalvo (No. 40 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600), who finished fourth at Auto Club Speedway yesterday, placed third at Daytona to give Suzuki its highest finisher. Hacking crossed the line in fourth for Kawasaki while Shawn Higbee (No. 11 Higbee-Racing.com Buell 1125R) made it four different manufacturers in the top five with what was then Buell’s best career result to date. Throw in a seventh-place finish by Davies on the Millennium Aprilia and five different makes of motorcycles were represented in the top seven.
Race two for AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL will be run at Auto Club Speedway today at 2:30 p.m. local time and will once again be 21 laps for 50 miles.