AMA Pro Road Racing and Dunlop Tire Test at Daytona International Speedway: Day 3 Report; Yamaha and Bostrom Set Daytona SportBike Pace; Hodgson Hopeful with Honda DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (December 7, 2008) - A pair of final practice sessions for...
AMA Pro Road Racing and Dunlop Tire Test at Daytona International Speedway: Day 3 Report; Yamaha and Bostrom Set Daytona SportBike Pace; Hodgson Hopeful with Honda
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (December 7, 2008) - A pair of final practice sessions for AMA Pro American Superbikes and AMA Pro Daytona SportBikes brought a successful three-day AMA Pro Road Racing Dunlop Tire test to a close Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.
Yamaha teams in both of AMA Pro Road Racing's premier classes showed up in full force and Ben Bostrom unofficially clocked the fastest Daytona SportBike lap of the overall test Saturday night in the final of two night practices. The three-hour night sessions were run in preparation for the season-opening Daytona 200 by Honda, which will be run under the lights at Daytona for the first time on Friday, March 6. Bostrom was stoked with not only the performance of his Yamahas but also with the idea of running at night in the Daytona 200 next spring.
"It was really fun at night," Bostrom said. "The bike seems to run good on the crisp air, which is kind of cool. More than that, you get a special feeling under the lights, you feel more like a rock concert ... like big time."
Bostrom will run for the 2009 AMA Pro American Superbike championship on a Factory Yamaha YZF-R1 in addition to competing in the Daytona 200 on a Graves Yamaha YZF-R6. Yamaha will field four entries in the inaugural Daytona 200 under the lights.
"The night practice was really exciting and there is a great vibe here at night," said Tom Halverson, Yamaha Road Race Team Manager. "We are really happy that Yamaha has made a real strong commitment to being here and being a part of this series. Yamaha has really shown that racing is a strong part of its heritage. They want to be here and have worked with AMA Pro Road Racing to get this whole thing off the ground. They really wanted to show a commitment here, and I think we have accomplished that."
HODGSON HOPEFUL WITH HONDA Among the American Superbike pacesetters was 2003 World Superbike Champion Neil Hodgson on an American Honda CBR1000RR. As the final Sunday afternoon session was winding down, Hodgson unofficially ripped some of the fastest American Superbike laps of the test on the 2.9-mile Daytona configuration.
"I really feel confident," Hodgson said. "I truly believe that at our starting point, which is now, it is so much better than what we had last season. According to the team, we are going to test in January and do lots of things, like try to improve the traction control on the bike, and little areas that need to be improved. If I can improve what I am doing now by a second a lap, I think that will put me battling for the wins."
Hodgson is a proponent of both the new series-standard Dunlop Tires and AMA Pro Road Racing's rules for the American Superbike category.
"I have been more of a Dunlop runner all through my career," Hodgson said. "Dunlop make great tires. It doesn't really change what we have had in the past over here because all of the top riders run Dunlops and we all get the same tire. The rules package will help us because what that is going to do is bring Suzuki closer to us. We have a year on the bike and developed the bike throughout the year, but at the end of the year, you sit back and evaluate what you need to do to it. We have been able to pinpoint some areas that we have improved."
SUNDAY MORNING COMING DOWN Sunday morning's temperatures in the high 40s were the coldest conditions of the test and both Erion Racing's Jake Zemke and Graves Yamaha rider Tommy Aquino found trouble just minutes into the chilly 9 a.m. Daytona SportBike session.
Both riders lost front grip in the first right-hand turn of Daytona's "Bus Stop" chicane but were uninjured after low-siding their bikes.
"It was a little cold this morning," said Zemke, who was the first rider on-track in the session. "I just lost the front in the chicane. I turned into the left and as soon as I went to the right, I just lost the front. Then Tommy Aquino went out and he did the same thing in the next couple of laps in the same spot. As cold as it was this morning, the track temperatures were really low."
Neither Zemke nor Aquino were injured and both riders rode their motorcycles back to the pits. Aquino continued to practice on another Yamaha but Zemke and the Erion team called it a weekend.
"It bent too many parts to salvage anything but I didn't get a scratch on me," Zemke said.