James Rispoli, who races the ANT Racing/Star School Suzuki GSX R600, had a great weekend of AMA Supersport racing his first time at Daytona International Speedway.
Rispoli ran well on day one, fighting set up problems causing him to lose contact with the lead group early in race one. Fighting back hard he managed a seventh place finish for the day.
Not happy with that, he and his team consulted with the engine builder and experienced crew chief to come up with a plan. Acting on the information discussed, the team worked on the motorcycle and completely changed the set-up of the chassis.
With the support of suspension manufacturer Race Tech adjustments were made to suspension to complement the changes. This was a big gamble but James knew he had to find away to stay with the lead group and make up a (2) second deficit in race two to do it.
With changes made the team tested the new set up on Sunday mornings 20 minute practice. James reduced his single lap time by one second and when he came in requested additional changes. Ready for the race the team was excited.
On the start James managed to come from seventh on the grid to second in the lead group.
He was shuffled back to 4th where he worked hard to stay with the lead pack. Super aggressive on the brakes at the end of front and back straights in turns one and the chicane James stayed in the draft of the lead group for seven laps as the quartet put a gap on the rest of the field by over eight seconds.
Running a best lap of 52’s the late braking and worn tires finally caught up with the young rider and in turn one had a big moment sliding and losing contact with the lead group of now three. Relegated to non-mans land in 4th place he kept his head down to finish the remaining laps. On the last lap the third place rider went down in the chicane giving James a clear run for the last spot on the podium.
David Ashi (Team Owner ANT Racing/Star School) says: "I am so happy about what this new young team accomplished this weekend. Some teams never podium at Daytona so to do this first time out is simply amazing. The crew worked hard all weekend.
"James did an amazing job riding the wheels off the bike too. We only had one bike for the event and I know James was a bit nervous in case he crashed the bike. We also knew coming in to the race we were behind on weight, horsepower and our team/rider experience so this accomplishment means much more to us than you can imagine. We now have huge momentum going into the season."
James Rispoli (ANT Racing/Star School #43) says: "Man this was an awesome weekend. I knew I had the ability and I knew we had to find a way to ride my equipment over the edge to stay with these guys. I had a tough time on Saturday. On the first start I was right there with the lead group but a red flag created a complete do-over.
"On the second start I got pinched a little and by the time I got in position to sniff the lead group they were on the banking and got away. We had nothing for them on our own and the second group I got stuck in was too slow to work with to move up and give chase.
"On day two we made huge changes to the bike because I told the team I have to make up (2) seconds. The only way to do that was to have some better handling and be ultra aggressive on the brakes to close the gaps after getting yanked on the straights. Our equipment just could not get off the corners as well as the others and could barely stay in the draft so I knew what I had to do.
"In the race I aggressively moved my way up front and charged really hard the first two laps to keep pace. I had my fastest time on the second lap dipping into the 1’52’s to make sure I kept in contact. It didn’t take long, maybe lap 7 when I buried it hard in turn one and had a big moment.
"That little bit caused me to loose touch which meant I was racing for 4th. On the last lap I saw Mesa tuck it in the chicane. I just kept my head down not making a mistake to take the last spot on the podium.
"I want to say a huge thank you to my team and crew who totally believe in my ability and always give me the best they can to work with. And, to my new sponsors, NationalGuard.com, PEI, S.H.A.T.K.I. Warriors, Techmounts, LeoVince and all the rest, I couldn’t have done it without you."