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Series Daytona Test, day one notes

AMA Pro Road Racing and Dunlop Tire Test at Daytona International Speedway: Day 1 Report; Dunlop Pleased With Feedback; Higbee and Buell First Out; Night Tests Begins DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (December 5, 2008) - A new era for the reorganized AMA Pro...

AMA Pro Road Racing and Dunlop Tire Test at Daytona International Speedway: Day 1 Report; Dunlop Pleased With Feedback; Higbee and Buell First Out; Night Tests Begins

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (December 5, 2008) - A new era for the reorganized AMA Pro Racing and Dunlop Tire began Friday at Daytona International Speedway Friday where several AMA Pro American Superbike and AMA Pro Daytona SportBike teams and riders tested Dunlop's latest tires all day and for a few hours into the night.

Participating riders included Jake Zemke, Ben Bostrom, Josh Hayes, Neil Hodgson, Michael Barnes, Shawn Higbee, Chris Ulrich, Blake Young, Larry Pegram and several others with American Superbikes and Daytona SportBikes from Yamaha, Honda, Buell, Suzuki and Ducati all being put through their paces. American Superbikes are running on the 2.9-mile course while Daytona SportBikes are marking a return to the full 3.51-mile course.

The main focus of the three-day test, however, is on Dunlop which signed as the Official Tire of AMA Pro Road Racing just a little over a month ago. Around the clock work on both sides of the Atlantic made for a successful first-day debut, however, with teams and riders in both premier divisions delivering favorable feedback to Dunlop personnel on site at Daytona.

"The mission here is to deliver a tire that will do the distance, be safe and the same for everybody and give good performance," said Jim Allen, Dunlop Tire Senior Road Race Manager - Motorcycle. "It is interesting to hear some of the riders that have come off other brands of tires and the comments have been very favorable all the way through. Daytona is a very, very difficult track and you always have to pay attention when you are here. It has given us troubles in the past but what we saw today was all good, all positive from a mileage standpoint and from a grip standpoint. We are quite pleased with what we have seen so far."

While Dunlop and the AMA Pro teams and riders will surely benefit from the three-day session, the tire manufacturer's first real test was just having enough tires manufactured and delivered to Florida in time for this weekend's practice.

"The guys from Dunlop in England who were involved in designing and building the tires are here and they did a remarkable job," Allen said. "We had very little notice and had about two weeks to make the tires and another week to get them over here. We have a long history here and relied on that but it was still a challenge we had to meet. There is no place to test for Daytona except at Daytona."

WHO'S ON FIRST
When Higbee rode a Richie Morris Racing Buell 1125R on to Daytona International Speedway Friday morning around 9:15 a.m., he and the RMR team became the first to turn an official lap in the new AMA Pro Racing era.

"It is really cool to be down here and there are a lot of changes going on, but I am really optimistic about the future for road racing," Higbee said. "I haven't officially signed with anyone for next year but I am working toward that and just lending a hand this weekend to Richie Morris and the team. I had two good long runs and we did one full 20-lap stint on a set of Dunlops, the tire wear looked good and that was important to find out early."

The day began with Morris joining Barnes, Buell Motorcycle President Jon Flickinger, Daytona Harley-Davidson principal Bruce Rossmeyer and his daughter Shelly and AMA Pro Racing President Roger Edmondson for a press conference. Morris announced that his team will campaign the full 2009 AMA Pro Daytona SportBike season with Barnes and a GEICO Powersports-sponsored Buell 1125R.

NIGHT MOVES
Friday's opening practice is concluding with a three-hour night practice in preparation for the season-opening Daytona 200 by Honda under the lights, Friday, March 6, for the Daytona SportBike division. This will be the historic first night-time running of the classic race and no less than six portable Musco lighting units were brought in this weekend to illuminate the infield. The permanent lighting on Daytona's high banks has also been turned up brighter than it has been for previous night road course races at Daytona and the combination has literally lit-up "The World Center of Racing" as bright as it has ever been.

-credit: ama

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Series AMA
Drivers Larry Pegram , Neil Hodgson , Jake Zemke , Michael Barnes , Shawn Higbee , Blake Young , Chris Ulrich , Ben Bostrom , Josh Hayes