AMA SuperBike Class Returns to Daytona 200 in 2015

Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin at 2004 Daytona 200. He won the endurance race that year - the final year to use SuperBike machinery. But that changes in 2015.

Yoshimura Suzuki’s Mat Mladin at 2004 Daytona 200. He won the endurance race that year – the final year to use SuperBike machinery. But that changes in 2015.

2015 Daytona 200

The last time the AMA Pro Racing SuperBike class competed in the Daytona 200 was 2004. That year, the endurance race was won by Australia’s Mat Mladin, who would become one of the most successful riders in AMA SuperBike history.

But due to concerns over high speeds and the safety of the riders, AMA Pro Racing promoted Formula Xtrem – the then-600cc class –  to fill the grid for the 2005 Daytona 200.

The 600cc class, which was renamed Daytona SportBike in 2009, continued to host the Daytona 200. But following this year’s (March 14) Daytona 200 – which will once again field bikes from the SportBike class – the premier class will return to the famed race.

Yep, you heard that right; beginning in 2015, the AMA Pro SuperBike class will contest the 69-lap race at Daytona International Raceway’s 2.91-mile short course.

Michael Gentry (Chief Operating Officer of AMA Pro Racing) says: “Getting the SuperBikes back in the DAYTONA 200 has been a fan request for years and we’re thrilled to be making this announcement. The DAYTONA 200 is America’s premier motorcycle race, and our goal is to once again feature the biggest names in motorcycle road racing in the event.”

Regarding motorcycles, the Daytona 200 is the world’s longest-running endurance race. It began in 1937 on the sandy shore fronts of Daytona Beach, and, in 1961, became synonymous with Daytona International Speedway.

The event concludes the famed Daytona Bike Week, and provides many technical challenges to AMA Pro Road Racing teams.

Joie Chitwood (Daytona International Circuit President) says: “The DAYTONA 200 boasts a long and prestigious history since it first ran on the sands of Daytona Beach over seven decades ago, crowning some of the true legends of motorcycle racing in that time.

“Our fans have been patiently waiting for the premier class to return to the weekend’s headline event.  We are thankful to AMA Pro Racing, as well as Dunlop and the OEM’s for working together to help make this move a reality for 2015.”

AMA Pro Racing reports that the adjustments to the AMA Pro SuperBike rules package, planned as part of the recently-announced AMA Pro Road Racing class restructuring, are a key component to getting the SuperBikes back in the DAYTONA 200 for the 2015 running. Another important element is the commitment of AMA Pro Road Racing’s spec tire partner Dunlop to the continual development of tires which are specifically suited to the special demands of Daytona International Speedway.

Following are quotes from those heavily involved with the Daytona 200:

Scott Russell (Five-Time Daytona 200 Winner): “As a former winner of the biggest motorcycle race in America, I’m happy to hear that the SuperBikes will be back in the DAYTONA 200. It’ll create more interest when we have all of the top riders back in the big race at Daytona. I think this is an extremely important move, and it makes me very happy.”

Mike Buckley (Vice President of Dunlop) says: “Dunlop is excited about the prospect of having SuperBikes back in the DAYTONA 200. Everyone on the Dunlop design and service team are enthusiasts first and foremost so the entire team is looking forward to supporting this endeavor.”

Keith McCarty (Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., Motorsports Racing Division Manager) says: “The DAYTONA 200 is an iconic event, and it’s only fitting that SuperBikes – AMA Pro Road Racing’s premier class–should be the bikes that compete in the 200. Over the years, Yamaha riders have won the prestigious DAYTONA 200 a total of 22 times, on everything from our two-stroke production racers and Formula 1 GP bikes, to our four-stroke middleweight machines like the YZF-R6 and SuperBikes like the FZ750, OW01, and YZF750R.

“As the ‘Great American Motorcycle Race’ approaches its 75th consecutive year of competition, we at Yamaha are excited that SuperBikes will be returning to their rightful place in the DAYTONA 200 next year.”

Pat Alexander (Suzuki Motor of America, Inc., Sports Promotion Manager) says: “Suzuki Motor of America, Inc.,  is looking forward to returning to compete in the Daytona 200 on the Suzuki GSX-R1000. We see great potential in returning to the 1000cc racing platform for the DAYTONA 200 and we’re looking forward to trying to make that win happen.”

Don Sakakura (Yoshimura R&D of America, Inc., Vice President) says: “In years past, Yoshimura and Suzuki have been very successful racing the historic DAYTONA 200 event. We’re very excited to hear the 2015 DAYTONA 200 will feature the 1000cc SuperBikes. We anticipate our Yoshimura / Suzukis will be very competitive in the 200 mile format.”

Erik Buell (EBR, Founder) says: “I was very excited to hear that the DAYTONA 200 will be returning to the premier class format it had for so many years. Years ago, one of my great aspirations as a racer was to reach the highest status so I could race in this legendary event.

“To have the DAYTONA 200 back in the original format is both the right tribute to the past and a proper recognition of the technology of today where modern tires and sophisticated electronics can allow top riders to harness the tremendous power of the machines.”

Josh Hayes (Three-Time AMA Pro SuperBike Champion and Rider of the No. 4 Monster Energy Graves Yamaha YZF-R1) says: “The DAYTONA 200 is our biggest race of the season, so the biggest and best bikes should be competing in it. And, of course, that’s the SuperBikes. I’m looking forward to the 2015 DAYTONA 200, when SuperBikes will make their return. I say, ‘Welcome back!'”

Roger Lee Hayden (Rider of the No. 95 Yoshimura Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000) says: “I’m really excited for the SuperBikes to be back in the DAYTONA 200. It’s the biggest race of the year and it seems only fitting for the biggest class in AMA Pro to be competing in it. I grew up watching the DAYTONA 200 and it was always the SuperBike guys I looked up to that were winning it, so it’s been my childhood dream to win the race. Hopefully this will also bring some international riders over like it has in the past. I can’t wait and I think it’s a great idea.”

Larry Pegram (Rider of the No. 72 Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing EBR 1190RS) says: “I’m glad that the DAYTONA 200 is on the road back to the being biggest race in the world again. The first step is getting the big bikes back in the race.”

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