AMA Pro Racing Gets off to a Shaky Start with Daytona 200

03/12/2011 @ 3:56 pm, by Victoria Reid5 COMMENTS

Despite rain early in the weekend, the weather was clear and sunny for the running of the 2011 Daytona 200. The historically important race featured entries from the AMA Pro Racing Daytona Sportbike class, as it was decided a few years ago that the Superbikes were traveling at too dangerous of speeds through the turns and onto the banking of the Daytona International Speedway.

However these concerns seemed to be overshadowed by the issues 2011, as the race distance was ultimately not to be 200 miles, as today’s race saw a mid-race red flag for safety issues regarding the Dunlop front tires forcing a long delay, a second red flag with a multi-rider crash on the restart, and a third red flag caused by a crash at the checkered flag.

Perennial rider Jake Zemke won pole (1:49.775) for the race on his final lap of qualifying Friday, taking the first starting position from Jason DiSalvo, with Danny Eslick and rookie Daytona Sportbike rider JD Beach completing the front row. Of thouse four, only DiSalvo was quick in the Saturday morning warm-up, second fastest behind PJ Jacobsen. Josh Herrin, Dane Westby, and Cory West were the fastest five in the morning.

Racing got off to a great start, with DiSalvo sliding into the lead into Turn 1, and Zemke second, then third as Eslick also took a position away from the pole sitter. As is usual at Daytona, the leader into the final chicane was rarely leading across the line, with the riders acting as though they had only a few laps left rather than just a few laps into the race. Both Eric Bostrom and PJ Jacobsen were out within the first nine laps, and by the end of L10, Zemke led Herrin, DiSalvo, Eslick, and Beach as the top five. All but Beach were within two tenths of each other.

That tight grouping continued through the first round of pitstops, as Eslick was the first of the leaders in, on Lap 19. Zemke, Herrin, and DiSalvo nearly got together as they entered pit lane, and once most of the stops had cycled through they were still at the front. Just a few laps later, Eslick had a nasty crash off the banking in front of the pit entrance, tucking the front and sliding across the asphalt on his back. Luckily, he got back on the bike and made it into the box.

The first red flag was thrown just a few laps later. For safety reasons, the entire field was required to stop and put a new front tire on, causing some timing issues as Dunlop did not have enough rubber immediately ready to replace all the front tires. The delay was a boon for DiSalvo, who had slowed and pitted, having lost a cylinder just before the red flag. His Ducati team proceeded to swap motors during the break, and got him back out to the restart. In the end, the Daytona 200 was shortened to twenty-seven laps, a break, and a fifteen lap sprint to the checkered flag.

The grid for the restart was taken from positions at the end of L27, with Zemke, Herrin, DiSalvo, and Beach the front row. DiSalvo was into the lead as a second red flag, caused by multiple crashes at Turn 1, stopped the race again. Barrett Long’s engine blew on the restart, leaving oil on the track. On the second restart, everyone got away smoothly for a nail-biting fifteen lap sprint. Seven riders, usually led by Zemke, Herrin, Westby, or Beach fought each other through the turns and blew past each other in the draft, with the lead seemingly changing hands more times in one lap than in entire MotoGP races.

With just under five laps left and riders diving under, over, and around each other at every opportunity, DiSalvo’s Ducati seemed to fail him again, allowing rookie Beach to move up to third, as fellow Ducati rider Holden parked his bike. DiSalvo drifted back to sixth, but was still well inside the pack and fighting. Zemke remained in front as West and Herrin aggressively battled over second. West led Herrin and Zemke across the line to begin the final lap, as DiSalvo relegated Zemke to fourth.

In the end, DiSalvo was first with Ducati’s first Daytona 200 win, as Knapp and West crashed their way across the finish line. Both riders were up quickly and appeared unhurt, though they brought out another red flag, and the following unofficial results. West and Zemke completed the podium. Though SPEEDTV chose not to show the racing from the first restart onward, it can be seen at 11pm EST on that network.

Provisional Daytona SportBike Results for the Daytona 200:

140Jason DiSalvoDucati 848
257Cory WestSuzuki GSX-R6000.029
398Jake ZemkeYamaha YZF-R60.154
473JD BeachKawasaki ZX-6R0.219
58Josh HerrinYamaha YZF-R60.364
65Dane WestbySuzuki GSX-R6001 Lap
744Taylor KnappYamaha YZF-R61 Lap
86Tommy AquinoYamaha YZF-R61 Lap
974Bostjan SkubicYamaha YZF-R61 Lap
107Fernando AmantiniKawasaki ZX-6R1 Lap
1115Cameron BeaubierYamaha YZF-R61 Lap
1232Santiago VillaSuzuki GSX-R6001 Lap
1320Paul AllisonYamaha YZF-R61 Lap
1438Kris TurnerSuzuki GSX-R6001 Lap
1575Huntley NashYamaha YZF-R61 Lap
16825Joey PascarellaYamaha YZF-R62 Laps
1722Jason FarrellKawasaki ZX-6R2 Laps
18129Tyler O’HaraYamaha YZF-R62 Laps
1913Melissa ParisYamaha YZF-R62 Laps
2045David Sadowski,Jr.Ducati 8482 Laps
2112Ricky OrlandoKawasaki ZX-6R2 Laps
2278Reese WackerSuzuki GSX-R6002 Laps
2341Pat MooneyBuell 1125R2 Laps
2484Anthony FaniaSuzuki GSX-R6002 Laps
25144Luiz CerciariSuzuki GSX-R6002 Laps
26175Sam RozynskiYamaha YZF-R62 Laps
27594David McPhersonYamaha YZF-R62 Laps
28150Lyles SandersYamaha YZF-R63 Laps
29240Giuseppi MesinaYamaha YZF-R63 Laps
30291Scott DeckerSuzuki GSX-R6003 Laps
3171Ray HofmanHonda CBR600RR4 Laps
3259Jake HoldenDucati 8485 Laps
3316Russ WikleSuzuki GSX-R60015 Laps
3477Matthew SadowskiDucati 84815 Laps
3529Barrett LongDucati 84817 Laps
3669Dany EslickSuzuki GSX-R60018 Laps
379PJ JacobsenDucati 84824 Laps
3856Les MoscarielloDucati 84832 Laps
3910Eric BostromKawasaki ZX-6R40 Laps

Source: AMA Pro Racing

  • Chris

    An eventful race, to say the least; thanks for the write-up.
    You never want to see issues with the basics like spec tires, and especially not any crashes. But, those things are not directly under “AMA Pro Racing.” The tire issue is obviously dealing with Dunlop and the new track surface, and the crashes from the riders; neither stem from the AMA organization. Was the race a little “shaky?” Sure! But, it sounds like the AMA did fine – much better than 2009, for sure!
    Here’s to hoping for good racing and an absence of tire problems or crashes in the future!

  • Steve

    Fantastic race and restart. One of the most exciting I’ve seen in years. And how about Esleck. That is one tough dude (crazy) to get back in it after a get off like that. Mom….where are my spare leathers? I even thought Speed Channel did a good job with the coverage and dealing with the delay. Now if only the AMA can figure out how to fill some of those empty spectator seats, that would be nice. I’ve seen more spectators at a club race. Pathetic.

  • Cpt.Slow

    I agree with Steve… all the factors considered the race was awesome. You can really sense the desire, it was all in. Under-rated! There is great racing in the American two-wheeled world.

  • Dave

    I could be wrong but in most other types of racing don’t they dis-allow working on the vehicle during a red flag? Seemed odd that DiSalvo’s team was actually allowed to swap motors.
    Amazing that they got it done though. Awesome job by the team.

  • A conspiracy theorist might consider the timing of the tire safety-related red flag and JD40’s 848 meltdown a strange coincidence. As much as I dislike the DMG-AMA bureaucracy, I won’t chew that gum.

    I’ve been a loyal Ducati rider/fan/worshipper for over 20 years, but I can’t feel good about this win. To overcome radical weather changes and win a split, 147 mile race is a testament to JD40’s racecraft and his crew’s technical skills, but it cannot to be attributed to a machine which actually won two sprint races with two different engines. The 200 is supposed to be where OEM’s prove that their production-based bikes (and top racers) have the stuff to go the distance at racing speed. For me, the racing did not disappoint, but the race execution and the results did.