Daytona SportBike Report
Josh Herrin won a hard-fought, wild and wet AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL final in race one of the Suzuki SuperBike Doubleheader weekend at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., beating Steve Rapp by a margin of just .008 seconds.
It was unclear who would make it to the start/finish line first at the end of any lap in the 13-lap race. Officially there were two leaders and five lead changes at the stripe, but unofficially four different riders led the field at some point around the 4.05-mile circuit, exchanging the top spot in the challenging conditions more than twenty times.
As rain drizzled down on the field, 2009 Daytona SportBike Champion Danny Eslick shot to the front of the pack from the start on the No. 1 GEICO Powersports RMR Suzuki GSX-R600 only to be passed by the No. 36 M4 Monster Energy Suzuki GXR-R600 of Martin Cardenas in turn one. Cardenas was subsequently passed by Herrin’s No. 8 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6 in turn two. The Colombian outbraked Herrin on the high-speed turn four section and regained the lead.
Front-row starter Cory West quickly joined the fray, passing Herrin in turn seven and pressing on Cardenas until his No. 57 Vesrah Suzuki GSX-R600 suffered a mechanical in turn eleven that ended his race. Herrin got a strong run down the back straight and took the lead again under braking in turn 12. Herrin and Cardenas were then trailed by Chris Fillmore’s strong No. 55 Vesrah Suzuki GSX-R600, Clinton Seller’s No. 4 Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha YZF-R6 and Rapp’s No. 15 Team Latus Motors Racing Ducati 848.
Cardenes and Herrin traded the lead nine times over the first four laps, Cardenas repeatedly outbraking Herrin going into turn five and Herrin retaking the first position each lap in a sprint to the start finish line coming out of the last corner. Rapp took over the lead on lap five as conditions worsened and the trio traded the top three spots numerous times over the ensuing laps before Herrin settled in to the lead again on lap nine. That same lap, the No. 4 Project 1 Yamaha of Clinton Seller surged to second position in the back section of the track over Cardenas and Rapp.
On lap 11, Seller made a deep braking pass into turn one, the lead pack dicing through turn two and going four wide down into turn three. Herrin emerged unscathed, leading the group to turn five before Rapp once again took over.
On the white flag lap, Herrin challenged Rapp going under the bridge in the high speed turn four area, making the pass stick for the final time leading Rapp to the finish.
"When I went out on the warm-up lap I felt like it was horrible then and once the race started going it got about ten times worse," said Herrin. "I was surprised at how good the tires were in it. I think that both of these guys and everybody out there that kept it up did an awesome job because it was probably the trickiest conditions I’ve ever ridden in. My Yamaha R6 was working great and my Graves Motorsports crew have been working hard all weekend. The Dunlop tires are awesome, it shows you how good DOT tires are."
Rapp’s second place finish was his third podium of the season.
"My race was interesting from the first lap when Cory blew up his motor and oiled everybody behind him," said Rapp. "I took my Tear-Off off before the race because of the rain, so I didn’t have a Tear-Off. There’s oil all over me as you can see but that was interesting, the first couple of laps trying to deal with that. After that it was just three or four of us in really, really tricky conditions. It was easy following, but then when you got in front you really didn’t know how fast you could go. I think that’s why when someone got in front they slowed down again and it kept going back and forth. The team did great, we have five guys on our team and they had to basically rip the whole bike apart. We had an oil leak after qualifying so they worked to the last minute to get it going and it was a great bike."
Cardenas claimed the final podium spot.
"It was a great battle with these two guys," said Cardenas. "There were some great passing maneuvers but it was too risky because of the conditions. It’s good to finish third and on the box is always good. I hope for a dry race tomorrow to try and get the same result or maybe a little bit better."
Fourth place went to Seller, his highest finish to date and Eslick rounded out the top five. Fillmore crashed in lap three to finish 26th. Herrin now leads Eslick in the Daytona SportBike points championship, 190-184.
Sunday’s activities at Road America include a rider autograph session at 10:50 a.m., a fan grid walk at 11:30 a.m. and race two of Daytona SportBike competition closing the weekend with a 3:45 p.m. start time.
SPEED will be broadcasting same-weekend coverage of both Daytona SportBike races, with race one airing tonight, Saturday, June 5th at 11:00 p.m. ET (8:00 p.m. PT)and race two airing Sunday night at 11:00 p.m. ET (8:00 PT). A re-broadcast of Saturday’s race one final will also be broadcast on Sunday, June 6th at 3:00 p.m. ET (Noon PT).