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

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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:

Pos. No. Rider Bike Gap
1 40 Jason DiSalvo Ducati 848
2 57 Cory West Suzuki GSX-R600 0.029
3 98 Jake Zemke Yamaha YZF-R6 0.154
4 73 JD Beach Kawasaki ZX-6R 0.219
5 8 Josh Herrin Yamaha YZF-R6 0.364
6 5 Dane Westby Suzuki GSX-R600 1 Lap
7 44 Taylor Knapp Yamaha YZF-R6 1 Lap
8 6 Tommy Aquino Yamaha YZF-R6 1 Lap
9 74 Bostjan Skubic Yamaha YZF-R6 1 Lap
10 7 Fernando Amantini Kawasaki ZX-6R 1 Lap
11 15 Cameron Beaubier Yamaha YZF-R6 1 Lap
12 32 Santiago Villa Suzuki GSX-R600 1 Lap
13 20 Paul Allison Yamaha YZF-R6 1 Lap
14 38 Kris Turner Suzuki GSX-R600 1 Lap
15 75 Huntley Nash Yamaha YZF-R6 1 Lap
16 825 Joey Pascarella Yamaha YZF-R6 2 Laps
17 22 Jason Farrell Kawasaki ZX-6R 2 Laps
18 129 Tyler O’Hara Yamaha YZF-R6 2 Laps
19 13 Melissa Paris Yamaha YZF-R6 2 Laps
20 45 David Sadowski,Jr. Ducati 848 2 Laps
21 12 Ricky Orlando Kawasaki ZX-6R 2 Laps
22 78 Reese Wacker Suzuki GSX-R600 2 Laps
23 41 Pat Mooney Buell 1125R 2 Laps
24 84 Anthony Fania Suzuki GSX-R600 2 Laps
25 144 Luiz Cerciari Suzuki GSX-R600 2 Laps
26 175 Sam Rozynski Yamaha YZF-R6 2 Laps
27 594 David McPherson Yamaha YZF-R6 2 Laps
28 150 Lyles Sanders Yamaha YZF-R6 3 Laps
29 240 Giuseppi Mesina Yamaha YZF-R6 3 Laps
30 291 Scott Decker Suzuki GSX-R600 3 Laps
31 71 Ray Hofman Honda CBR600RR 4 Laps
32 59 Jake Holden Ducati 848 5 Laps
33 16 Russ Wikle Suzuki GSX-R600 15 Laps
34 77 Matthew Sadowski Ducati 848 15 Laps
35 29 Barrett Long Ducati 848 17 Laps
36 69 Dany Eslick Suzuki GSX-R600 18 Laps
37 9 PJ Jacobsen Ducati 848 24 Laps
38 56 Les Moscariello Ducati 848 32 Laps
39 10 Eric Bostrom Kawasaki ZX-6R 40 Laps

Source: AMA Pro Racing