Team M4 EMGO Suzuki fastest in practice for 8 Hours At Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 20, 2006) -- Team M4 EMGO Suzuki led the way in practice Friday evening for Saturday's 8 Hours At Daytona, the inaugural event for the SunTrust MOTO-ST series.

The pair of Suzuki SV1000S motorcycles ridden by Michael Barnes of Boca Raton, Fla., Geoff May from Gainesville, Ga. and Chris Ulrich from Lake Elsinore, Calif. set the quickest and third quickest times in the two-hour practice session around the 3.56-mile 14-turn Daytona International Speedway road course.

Barnes recorded a fastest lap of one minute, 58.119 seconds (108.501 mph) on the #18 bike to lead overall and in the Buell Motorcycle Company SuperSport Twins (SST) class. Its sister #3, with May in the saddle, recorded a time of 1:59.038 to place third.

"This is the start of our weekend and we're trying to do a whole lot this session," Barnes said. "We need to see if all the riders are feeling the same things and then make changes."

Splitting the Team M4 EMGO Suzuki pair was the JC Racing Aprilia Tuono 1000R ridden by Brett Ray of West Frankfort, Ill. and Mike Luke and Dave Estok, both from nearby New Smyrna Beach, Fla. with a time of 1:58.293.

"Every time we come into the pits we're making a few changes and making the bike better," said Estok, who turned the quickest lap aboard the Aprilia. "For a bike that we just got and is basically stock it's going really well."

The #59 Belson Ducati Motorrad Ducati Monster 749 was fourth fastest with a time of 2:00.587. Spanish riders Daniel Ribalta and Kenny Noyes will share riding duties on the entry.

Fifth overall went to the #33 Vallely Racing Suzuki SV1000 shared between Joe Ribiero of South Amboy, N.J., Matt Lynn of Ball Ground, Ga. and Mike Himmelsbach from Quartertown, Penn.

Starting positions for the race will be by order of entry in each class, with motorcycles in the SST class placed first, followed by Grand Sport Twins and then Sport Twins. That will put the #55 Team Motorrad BMW R1200 of Ivan Messina from Asheville, N.C., Frank Shockley of Greenville, S.C. and Brad Phillips from Greer, S.C. on pole position on the two-by-two grid.

The #18 M4 EMGO Suzuki SV1000S will start eighth and the JC Racing Aprilia will line up 13th.

Saturday's race will use a rolling start and will be the first nighttime motorcycle race at Daytona since 1985.

"I don't think the night's going to be too big an issue," Barnes said. "It will make things easier on tires if anything. I'm really looking forward to this format. A rolling start is something I've never done and I think it will be a lot safer for one thing."

In the BMW Grand Sport Twins class, the #19 DucatiToronto.com Ducati Multistrada 1000DS of Toronto riders Pat Barnes, Robert Trottier and Matt McBride was fastest with a time of 2:07.797 (100.284 mph). McBride set the quick time for the team.

The #70 James Gang Racing Buell XB12 of Paul James of Waukesha, Wis., John Fox from Mukwonago, Wis. and Greg Avello of Milwaukee placed second with a time of 2:10.299. The #4 San Jose BMW-entered BMW R1100 of Petaluma, Calif. rider Tom Montano and Craig McLean of Corta Madera, Calif. was third with a fastest lap of 2:11.243.

The Sport Twins (ST) class was led by the #79 GoBigRacing Suzuki SV650 shared between Canadian riders Paul Glenn of Keene, Ont., Ross Millson of Hamilton, Ont. and Karl Daigle from Roxton Pond, Que. at 2:08.728.

Next up was the #17 Blue Ridge Performance Kawasaki EX650 shared between Derick Keys of Irvine, Calif., Matt Lapham of Jackson, Mich. and Robert Wilkey of Fairfax Station, Va. with a time of 2:08.893.

Third was the #47 Voice Eclipse Suzuki SV650 of Russ Intravartolo of Palatine, Ill. and Jason Farrell from Oshkosh, Wis. at 2:10.124.

The SST class includes motorcycles producing between 90-118 horsepower, the GST class covers motorcycles producing 75-90 horsepower, and machines under 75 horsepower comprise the ST category. Horsepower limits will be enforced by a Dynojet chassis dynamometer

Pirelli has been named as the sole supplier of SunTrust MOTO-ST tires for the inaugural 8 Hours At Daytona as well as the first full season of competition in 2007. All competitors will use Sunoco GT unleaded fuel.

Saturday's schedule calls for brief warm-up sessions for all classes beginning at 8:00 a.m. ET, followed by an autograph session at 10:00 a.m. The 8 Hours At Daytona is scheduled to take the green flag at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Live Timing and Scoring data for all sessions will be available via the official web site of the SunTrust MOTO-ST Series, www.moto-st.com, and a one- hour highlight package from the race will air on SPEED at some point in the fourth quarter of 2006.

Tickets to the 8 Hours At Daytona may be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or www.racetickets.com or by calling 1- 800-PIT-SHOP.

-credit: www.moto-st.com