AMA Pro Racing has announced that the series’ premier race, the Daytona 200, will once again feature 1,000cc Superbikes, starting in the 2015 season. A bit of an oddity on the AMA Pro Road Racing calendar, the Daytona 200 is America’s longest-running motorcycle endurance racing event, and historically it has kicked off the road racing season in America.
With Daytona International Speedway’s high speeds and long stints, riding the Daytona 200 has been a challenge for riders, for a variety of reasons. This lead to Superbikes being replaced by the strangely formatted Formula Xtreme class for the Daytona 200 race class in 2005 thru 2008. As tire and safety concerns continued, the modified 600cc Daytona SportBike class took over in 2009, and has run the race ever since.
While it has always been seen as an oddity by fans that AMA Pro Road Racing’s premier class didn’t run the series’ headline event, the safety concerns regarding 200+ horsepower bikes chewing through tires on the road course has been a paramount issue — even the Daytona SportBike bikes have had their fair share of tire woes at Daytona.
In order to get the Superbikes through the 69-lap endurance race, the folks at DMG say that the new upcoming rules package, which will reduce the cost of racing in AMA Pro Road Racing, is largely to be thanked.
With reduced costs come reduced power, and with help from Dunlop (who makes a special tire just for the Daytona 200) and the various motorcycle OEMs in the series, an agreement to bring Superbikes back to the Daytona 200 was reached.
To show support for the announcement, AMA Pro Racing added quotes from a bevy of OEMs, teams, and riders about the switch to Superbikes in 2015 for the Daytona 200.
For many this seems like the first step in the right direction (perhaps it is the second step, since the new rules package should help bring life back to the sport as well), though the proof will be in the pudding, as they say.
Even the revised AMA Pro Superbike class will test the limits for tires at Daytona, and spec-tire supplier Dunlop certainly has its work out for it with this news.
With no TV package announced for the 2014 season yet, and sponsors, teams, and riders jumping ship en masse, our only hope is that American road racing survives long enough to see the 2015 changes implemented.
Quotes of support from the press release are below:
Keith McCarty, Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., Motorsports Racing Division Manager: “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, American Suzuki Motor Corporation, Sports Promotion Manager: “American Suzuki Motor Corporation 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: “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: “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: “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: “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: “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.”
Scott Russell, Five-Time Winner of the DAYTONA 200: “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.”
Source: AMA Pro Racing; Photo: © 2013 Brian J. Nelson / Brian J. Nelson Photography – All Rights Reserved