NEW LOOK FOR 64TH RUNNING OF THE DAYTONA 200 Duhamel takes another shot at Russell's record Racing fans at Bike Week 2005 will not only have the opportunity to see history in the making when Formula Xtreme bikes run in the 64th Daytona 200 on ...
NEW LOOK FOR 64TH RUNNING OF THE DAYTONA 200
Duhamel takes another shot at Russell's record
Racing fans at Bike Week 2005 will not only have the opportunity to see history in the making when Formula Xtreme bikes run in the 64th Daytona 200 on Saturday, March 12, the race will also be held on a newly reconfigured course. With the new bikes and new track this is one of the most unpredictable Daytona 200 events in years.
However, one thing that is for sure is that Honda's Miguel Duhamel will make another assault on "Mr. Daytona", Scott Russell's, record of five wins in the Daytona 200. Duhamel came up just short last year finishing third in the historic race. This year provides a unique opportunity for Duhamel. For the first time since 1985 the style of bikes has changed from AMA Superbikes to AMA Formula Xtreme machines. Duhamel is the defending Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Champion.
The new track design excludes NASCAR Turns 1 and 2 and will shorten the course to 2.95 miles. The previous length of the motorcycle course was 3.56 miles. The Daytona 200 will now be 68 laps instead of 57. It's the sixth time the track has been changed since the race moved from the beach to Daytona International Speedway in 1961. The new circuit received favorable reviews from most of the riders participating in off-season tire testing.
Duhamel, who begins his 15th season of AMA professional racing, feels the new track will be even more challenging for the riders in the 200.
"The Formula Xtreme bikes may not be as tough to handle as a Superbike, but I think Daytona's new configuration is going to be more physically demanding," said the seven-time AMA road racing champion. "With the old track you had some time to rest on the banking. The new section is tight and twisty and is going to demand a lot of attention. To race 200 miles without making errors is going to take a lot of concentration and stamina."
Duhamel won the Daytona 200 in his first appearance in 1991 and then went on to victories in 1996, 1999 and 2003. A victory this year would tie Duhamel with Scott Russell for the record for the most Daytona 200 wins. Russell, who is now retired from racing, won his fifth Daytona 200 in 1998.
"To tie Scott's record would be really special for me," Duhamel said. "He was so comfortable at Daytona and just made it his home. I've had a tougher relationship with the track at times, but that's Daytona, it can make you look like a chump or a hero. Hopefully I'll stick around long enough to tie and maybe break the all-time win record."
Duhamel's toughest competition could come from Honda teammate Jake Zemke and Erion Honda's Kurtis Roberts. Zemke was runner-up to Duhamel in the Formula Xtreme Series last season. Roberts is a two-time former champion of the series.
If Roberts manages to win the 200 it would be only the second time in the history of the Daytona 200 that a father-son combination won America's top motorcycle race. Roberts' father Kenny Roberts was a three-time winner of the 200. Floyd Emde, the 1948 winner and Don Emde, winner in 1972, are the only father and son to win the race so far.
One of the most intriguing subplots in this year's Daytona 200 is the possibility that an American-made motorcycle has an opportunity to win the race for the first time since Cal Rayborn rode a Harley-Davidson to victory in 1969. Buell will be represented by Shawn Higbee on the XB12R Lightning.
Higbee is a veteran road racer and is excited about racing in the 200 once again. "Over the years, I have had the chance to work with several great teams," Higbee said. "Now, I have the goal to bring together the best aspects of each of them into one cohesive unit. All of this hard work has really motivated me toward Daytona. I am really excited about the coming season."
Buell's only previous appearance in the Daytona 200 was in 1984 when Georgian ace racer Doug Brauneck raced the Daytona 200 on the Harley-Davidson-powered machine.
Ten years ago Kawasaki was the bike to beat in the Daytona 200, but Team Green hasn't won the race since 1995. This year the team will rely on Attack Kawasaki with Ben Attard. This will be the up-and-coming Australian's first appearance in the 200 and he hopes to follow in footsteps of countryman Mat Mladin and become only the second Aussie native to win the race. Attack's Josh Hayes is rumored to be an entry for the 200 as well. Hayes came straight out of the club-racing ranks to win the AMA 750 Supersport race at Daytona in 1999.
Perhaps Suzuki's biggest hope to defend its Daytona 200 victory with Mat Mladin last year is Team M4 EMGO Suzuki's Vincent Haskovec. Haskovec finished third in the 2004 AMA Formula Xtreme Championship with one pole position, three podium finishes, and a best race finish of second place. Haskovec is a native of the Czech Republic.
The 64th Daytona 200 will be shown live on Speed Channel starting at approcimately 1:30 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, March 12, with the pre-race show.
For additional information on this year's Bike Week races contact Daytona International Speedway at (386) 253-7223 or visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.
About AMA Pro Racing
AMA Pro Racing is the leading sanctioning body for motorcycle sport in the United States. Its properties include the THQ AMA Supercross Series, the AMA Motocross Championship, the AMA Superbike Championship, the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship and the AMA Supermoto Championship. For more information about AMA Pro Racing, visit www.amaproracing.com.