Aprilia USA Takes Second Straight SunTrust MOTO-ST Series Title

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 18, 2008) -- The No. 1 Aprilia USA / Lloyd Brothers Motorsports team claimed its second straight SunTrust MOTO-ST Series title in the final round of the season at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, despite failing to finish the deciding event.

Ty Howard of Weatherford, Texas, Mike Himmelsbach from Quakertown, Pa. and Bryan West from Austin, Texas retired their Aprilia Tuono 1000R near the end of the SunTrust MOTO-ST Series 8 Hours At Daytona but still managed to lock up the championship in the Buell Motorcycle Company SuperSport Twins (SST) class.

The race was won by the No. 18 Roadracingworld.com Suzuki SV1000S shared between Martin Cardenas of Medellin, Colombia, Chris Ulrich from Lake Elsinore, Calif. and Eureka Springs, Ark.'s Cory West. It was the team's second straight triumph in the 8 Hours At Daytona finale.

The No. 1 Aprilia was running second to the No. 18 Suzuki when it ran into mechanical troubles late in the race, eventually retiring with just a few laps to go. But it was still classified 10th overall and fourth in the SST class, giving the team 225 points to the 207 of the No. 75 Touring Sport Ducati team, which finished fifth in class after also suffering mechanical woes.

"We came into the race wanting to win the championship, but after the Ducati had its problems we dropped the hammer," said Howard. "We gambled on putting on intermediate tires when it started sprinkling, but then the rain stopped and we lost a lap. We got the lap back and then the bike broke."

The No. 18 Suzuki completed 219 laps of the 3.51-mile Daytona road course in eight hours, one minute, 13.164 seconds for an average speed of 95.843 miles per hour and led 134 laps.

The winning bike finished five laps clear of the second place No. 91 Bruce Transportation Ducati 848 shared by Shane Narbonne (Tyngsboro, Mass.), Brent Lyskawa (Londonderry, N.H.) and Cory Hildebrand (Milford, N.H.).

Third place overall and third in the SST class went to the No. 8 Bruce Rossmeyer's Daytona Racing Buell 1125R of Shawn Higbee (Oconomowoc, Wis.) and Michael Barnes (Boca Raton, Fla.).

"It's fantastic to be on top of the podium," Ulrich said. "Where we won it was when the rain came and we decided to stay on slicks. It was close. We only had a lap advantage and then the Aprilia broke."

The Bruce Transportation Ducati was making its first start of the SunTrust MOTO-ST Series season and enjoyed a smooth run through the eight hours while its faster rivals ran into troubles.

"We were consistent all the way," Lyskawa said. "We weren't the fastest ones out there but the crew was great and got us in and out of the pits as fast as anyone."

The No. 8 Buell came back from a radiator problem that left the team ninth overall at half distance. The team finished third in SST points with 204.

"That's endurance racing for you," Barnes said. "We knew we just had to keep plugging away."

The No. 75 Ducati of Ryan Elleby (Powder Springs, Ga.), Ryan Gordon (Fairplay, S.C.) and Doug Polen (Camarillo, Calif.) managed to lead 17 laps early in the race before dropping from contention with an electrical problem.

The No. 77 Touring Sport Ducati PS1000LE of Peter Friedland (Columbia, S.C.), Brad Phillips (Greer, S.C.) and Frank Shockley (Greenville, S.C.) came back from two early race crashes to win the BMW GrandSport Twins (GST) title at Daytona with a fifth place finish in class.

The No. 77 Ducati team finished the season with 212 points compared to 209 for the No. 69 RightsforBikers.com Ducati PS1000LE, which won GST in the season finale and finished fourth overall in the hands of Jason Edmonds (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Garrett Rick (Naples, Fla.) and John Linder (Tampa, Fla.).

"After the crash the attitude was to just go out and have fun," Friedland said. "We didn't think we had a chance to salvage anything. But then as the race went on we saw we had a chance."

The No. 70 James Gang Racing / Hoban Brothers Buell team of Jeff Johnson (Minneapolis, Minn.), Paul James (Waukesha, Wis.) and Walt Sipp (Kansas City, Mo.), came into the race only two points behind the No. 77 Ducati in the GST standings. But the Buell XB12R crashed around the five-hour mark and then developed an oil leak late in the race, finally finishing seventh in class.

Second in GST was the No. 23 Motocorse Bimota DB5 of Chris Boy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Kevin Mendez (Davie, Fla.) and Greg Melka (Tampa, Fla.), which battled with the No. 69 Ducati most of the way before slowing near the end when an engine breather hose came off.

Third in class went to the No. 53 Euro-Moto Ducati 1000DS of Eric Menetrier (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Tim Hall (Tampa, Fla.) and Duane DeSouza (Clearwater, Fla.).

The No. 9 Pair-A-Nines Kawasaki EX650 of Lapeer, Mich.'s Jay Springsteen, and the father-son duo of Justin Filice from Modesto, Calif. won the Sport Twins (ST) class at Daytona but missed out on repeating as class champion by just three points.

The title went to the No. 66 M4 Avteq Suzuki SV650 ridden by Ryan O'Donnell (Lewisville, Texas), Russ Wikle (Huntsville, Ala.) and Kyle Martin (Dallas, Texas), which survived a crash by Wikle to finish third. The No. 66 Suzuki finished the year with 217 points to 214 for the No. 9 Kawasaki squad.

"Our title chances went away, but came back; it's pretty awesome," Martin said. "Usually the luck doesn't go my way. We came in here leading and the title was ours to lose, and we managed not to lose it."

The No. 9 Kawasaki actually crossed the line second behind the No. 86 SpeedWerks.com Suzuki SV650 of Hawk Mazzotta (Carmel Valley, Calif.), Scott Ryan (Lemant, Ill.) and Brian Kcraget (Danvillle, Va.), but the Suzuki was penalized for exceeding the class horsepower limit in post-race tech.

Second in ST went to the No. 42 Grease Monkey Racing Suzuki SV650 of Eric Helmbach (Califon, N.J.), Eric Wilson (Flanders, N.J.) and Alex Shaw (Hackettstown, N.J.).

The 2009 SunTrust MOTO-ST Series kicks off back at Daytona International Speedway with the Daytona 300 March 1.

-credit: www.moto-st.com.