Suzuki Racing Dominates Daytona 200 Week
Suzuki Motorcycle Racing
Suzuki teams showed their strength and proved the dominance of their Suzuki’s on the asphalt and dirt during the entire 2011 Daytona Bike Week.
Suzuki motorcycles and ATVs shined in road racing, off-road motorcycle/ATV and supercross competition. Suzuki teams took advantage of the awesome power and performance of their GSX-Rs, RM-Zs, and QuadRacers to outclass the competition.
On the road-race side, Team Rockstar Makita Suzuki celebrated a tremendous AMA Pro Superbike opening-round weekend and showed the dominance of the GSX-R at Daytona, with Blake Young winning both races and teammate Tommy Hayden joining him on the podium in both events.
The Rockstar Makita Suzuki riders raced their Yoshimura-prepared Suzuki GSX-R1000 superbikes flawlessly, with Young celebrating the double victories in style and Hayden bringing home impressive second- and third-place finishes.
The weekend’s first AMA Superbike race saw Young in a multi-rider battle for almost all 15 laps on the famed Daytona racecourse. When the dust had settled, however, Young took the win over his teammate by just .026 of a second. In the second race, Young was biding his time until the final lap, when he stormed the frontrunner and took the lead, along with his second victory of the weekend.
Meanwhile, Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammate Hayden was right there with his head down for both races. Although Hayden was leading on the last lap of the first race, the checkered flag saw him finish in second place. In the second race, Hayden again was right there with his teammate and battled competitors as well as the famous Daytona draft before settling into third position.
The Michael Jordan Motorsports (MJM) team had a successful weekend with new riders Ben Bostrom and Roger Lee Hayden in Daytona. Both riders ran their Suzuki GSX-R1000s in the lead group on both days, with Bostrom finishing fourth on Friday and fifth on Sunday. Hayden raced to fifth place on Friday but suffered a minor tip-over in Saturday’s race and remounted to finish in 15th place.
On Friday, after qualifying fifth, Jordan Suzuki’s Bostrom got a great start on his Suzuki and slotted into fourth place. After losing contact with the front group, he fell back to fifth but was able to work his GSX-R back up to cross the line in fourth. On Saturday, Bostrom was running in sixth when teammate Hayden crashed in the infield, promoting Bostrom to fifth, where he ultimately finished.
Roger Lee Hayden, on the National Guard Jordan Suzuki, had a front-row start for both races after qualifying a strong third on Friday. In the first race, he ran with the leaders before finishing two seconds behind teammate Bostrom. On Saturday, Hayden got a good start and ran in fifth place until crashing unhurt in the west horseshoe turn. Hayden remounted his Suzuki and raced back up to finish 15th, garnering valuable championship points.
Martin Cardenas kicked off his Superbike career for M4 Suzuki in promising fashion in Friday’s race. The winningest rider in AMA Pro Daytona SportBike history piloted the #36 GSX-R1000 to an encouraging sixth-place result as he continues to steadily adapt to the powerful Suzuki.
On Saturday, Cardenas demonstrated his potential to become a major force in AMA Superbike competition. The reigning Daytona SportBike champion diced with the frontrunners for 13 of the race’s 15 laps, repeatedly battling and overtaking the class’s established stars. Grip issues finally forced the Colombian to back off his attack, but he still managed to claim an impressive fourth-place result despite admitting that he’s still fine-tuning his riding style to suit the powerful M4 Suzuki GSX-R1000.
M4 Teammate Chris Ulrich also rang up a top-ten result in the hotly-contested Superbike class opener. The Californian got away in 11th position at the start after qualifying tenth and worked his way up to ninth by the conclusion of the 15-lap affair.
On Saturday, Ulrich found himself in a deep hole to climb out of early, dropping to 18th position on the race’s second lap. Ulrich steadily worked his way forward, however, and ultimately made his way up to 11th position by the time he reached the checkered flag, falling just three tenths of a second short of his second top-ten result of the weekend.
Meanwhile, M4 Suzuki had a wild afternoon in a most unusual running of the Daytona 200. The race was red-flagged due to front tire concerns and after an extended delay shortened and restarted as a 15-lap sprint race to the flag. Dane Westby ran inside the top ten during the first portion of the race and was even stronger after the stoppage. Meanwhile, Santiago Villa was putting in a consistent day’s work, which he carried on into the race’s second half.
M4 Suzuki’s Westby was in contention for the win as a seven-rider pack jostled for position on the final lap of the thrilling race. However, another rider clipped Westby’s front brake lever as they raced to the checkered flag, sending him over the handlebars and into the path of a third competitor. Westby was fortunate to escape the spectacular high-speed fall with just a broken thumb.
However, Westby’s misfortune worked in Villa’s favor. What originally had been a stellar ride in which the hardworking Colombian matched his previous career AMA best result of 11th place was elevated to his first top ten, as he was ultimately awarded ninth place.
Vesrah Suzuki’s Cory West ran at the front of the 2011 Daytona 200 on his all-new 2011 Vesrah Suzuki GSX-R600, leading several laps, and ended up second at the draft to the finish by .029 of a second. Cory was a hero on the brakes into the chicane using the late braking capabilities of his Suzuki. At the run to the line, the Vesrah Suzuki GSX-R 600 was right there, with Cory taking second place and a trip to the podium.
Vesrah teammate Taylor Knapp was able to latch onto the tail end of the lead group in the 200 as the laps wound down and was looking for a top five finish, when disaster struck within sight of the finish line with another competitor’s machine crashing and Taylor being unable to avoid the situation. Taylor had a horrifying crash at top speed in the tri-oval but somehow was able to walk away unhurt and was credited with finishing 14th.
Team SuzukiScoopFans rider Elena Myers started the 2011 AMA SuperSport season with a bang at the opening round at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida this past weekend. Myers piloted her new 2011 SuzukiScoopFans Suzuki GSX-R600 to a sixth-place finish in Friday’s race and a seventh-place finish on Saturday.
Coming off of her first professional season last year, Myers went into the weekend with an aggressive attitude. This paid off for the17-year-old SuzukiScoopFans rider. She finished a solid sixth place in Friday’s race and then was in a battle for fourth on Saturday when she got shuffled back to seventh in the run from the chicane. Myers sits second in the west region series points.
Also in the SuperSport class, Vesrah’s Corey Alexander, in his first trip to Daytona, worked learning a new track and motorcycle. He overcame a DNF in the Friday race to rebound with a top ten in eighth place on his GSX-R600 on Saturday.
On the ATV side, Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Chris Borich used a strong final-lap push to pick up where he left off and win the opening round of the 2011 ATV Grand National Cross Series at River Ranch, FL. As he often does, Borich, the reigning ATV XC1 champion, positioned himself within striking distance of the leaders during the first half of the race. He then used the awesome power of his Suzuki QuadRacer R450 to pick up the pace on the final lap to power past the competition on the rough and sandy Florida course.
On the off-road bike side, Team FMF Makita Suzuki scored a top five finish in the first round of the 2011 Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Championship at River Ranch, FL. Reigning GNCC XC1 Champion Josh Strang finished fourth on the rough and demanding 13-mile course in Florida. Teammate Josh Weisenfels injured his ankle in a practice crash the week before the event and did not compete.
Strang had a strong start aboard his FMF Makita Suzuki RM-Z450 and went into the woods in third position. He used the power of his Suzuki to move into first position about halfway through the first lap. A small mistake near the finish of the first lap put Strang back to second as they entered the woods for lap two. Strang eventually fell back to fourth but was able to make his way back up to third before a crash on the next to last lap put him back to fourth place. Strang rode strong to the end, crossing the line for a fourth-place finish.
This year Daytona Supercross started off Bike Week and Team Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey overcame adversity to put his Yoshimura-equipped Suzuki RM-Z450 on the podium with a third-place finish during the ninth round of the 2011 AMA/FIM Supercross Championship. Teammate Brett Metcalfe had a rough night, finishing 18th in the grueling 20-lap main event.
Dungey started the day with a strong showing in practice, ending up with the fourth best time on the tough Daytona layout. In his heat race, his RMZ powered him out of the gate and put him right up to the front.
After several strong laps in the lead, Dungey suffered an unfortunate mechanical issue, resulting in a DNF (Did Not Finish). His Rockstar Makita Suzuki team pulled together and rallied to make a quick engine swap in order to prepare for the last chance qualifier (LCQ). Dungey rocketed out of his poor gate choice in the LCQ and ended up winning the four-lap race.
Due to the trip to the LCQ, Dungey ended up with the 19th gate pick for the main event. Despite the poor starting position, Dungey and his Suzuki bolted from the gate to a mid-pack position and methodically worked his way through the pack, eventually crossing the line in third place.
All in all, Suzuki riders showed the performance advantage of their Suzuki motorcycles and ATVs with their strength and domination throughout the week. Once again, they’ve proven that Suzuki certainly does "own the racetrack."