Daytona: Formula Xtreme preview

DUHAMEL LOOKS TO SET NEW DAYTONA 200 BY HONDA RECORD PICKERINGTON, Ohio (March 2, 2006) -- Miguel Duhamel comes to the 65th running of the Daytona 200 by Honda, the opening round of the AMA Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Series in Daytona...


PICKERINGTON, Ohio (March 2, 2006) -- Miguel Duhamel comes to the 65th running of the Daytona 200 by Honda, the opening round of the AMA Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Series in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Saturday, March 11, with a major milestone in his grasp. If the 37-year-old Montreal native, who now calls Las Vegas home, wins the prestigious 200-mile motorcycle road race he will become the first six-time winner in the storied history of the race, which first ran in 1937.

Duhamel heads up an impressive list of talented racers who will take to Daytona International Speedway's motorcycle road course. Duhamel tied the legendary Scott Russell with his fifth victory in the 200 last March. He again has the powerful Honda factory team behind him, but is set to face a deeper field than he conquered a year ago. In addition to Honda's strong effort, both Yamaha and Buell will field factory or factory-supported squads in this year's 200.

Duhamel has an amazing record in the Daytona 200. He won the race in his first attempt in 1991 as a replacement rider on the Commonwealth Honda squad. He was victorious again in 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2005. He is just happy to have the opportunity to break the record for most Daytona 200 wins.

"I was really honored to tie Scott's record last year," said Duhamel, the two-time and defending champion of the Lockhart-Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Series. "It would be great for sure to be the first to win the sixth. Honda has really stepped up with the new CBR600RR and I have the best team in racing so I have a lot of things going in my favor."

Duhamel will not only have to overcome serious efforts from Yamaha and Buell in this year's 200 miler, he'll also have his own Honda teammates to worry about. Jake Zemke will join Duhamel on the other factory Honda machine, while Josh Hayes and Aaron Gobert will race factory-backed Erion Hondas.

On facing the tough competition this season Duhamel joked, "I've got to be honest -- if they would let me be the only one in the race that would be sweet," he said. "But there's no doubt that this year's 200 is going to be a terrific one for the fans. It's going to be a really closely contested and tough race."

Yamaha is bringing in the big guns back to the 200 this year in the form of Eric Bostrom and Jason DiSalvo. Yamaha has won more Daytona 200s than any other manufacturer, but the maker's last victory in the race came in 1998. With Bostrom and DiSalvo Yamaha has a strong pair of contenders.

Four Buell dealer teams are entered in this year's Daytona 200. Buell is hoping to put an American-made motorcycle atop the Daytona 200 podium for the first time since Cal Rayborn won on a Harley-Davidson in 1969. Perhaps as surprising as Buell's entry in this year's 200 is the fact that former MotoGP star Jeremy McWilliams is slated to ride with the Warr's London Harley-Davidson/Buell of London team. The 41-year-old Irishman is one of the biggest international riders to compete at Daytona for a number of years and interest is high among American racing fans to watch such a highly respected rider such as McWilliams racing against many of the leading AMA stars.

Buell's other big name rider is former AMA Supersport and reigning Canadian Pro 600 Sport Bike champion Steve Crevier. He will ride a Deeley Harley-Davidson/Buell Canada of Vancouver entry.

Floridian Mike Ciccotto will race the 200 on a Hal's Harley-Davidson/Buell.

Suzuki's brightest hopes to win the 200 this year will be on the shoulders of Floridian racing veteran Michael Barnes, of Boca Raton and Oklahoman flat tracker turned road racer Danny Eslick. Barnes will race on a M4/EMGO Suzuki. He scored two podium finishes for the team in last year's Formula Xtreme Series. Eslick, who rides for Matsushima Performance Suzuki, came out of nowhere to finish a surprising fourth in last year's 200.

The Daytona 200 will again feature a number of international entries. In addition to the aforementioned McWilliams, fellow Northern Ireland native Alastair Seeley will race a Team Celtic Yamaha. Rob Frost riding for Chris Dowd Racing Kawasaki and Stu Wilson of the Crewe Van Centre Yamaha team are coming over from the United Kingdom. Slovenia is represented by Bostjan Pintar, Bostjan Skubic and Dejan Senk riding for Inotherm Honda and German Rico Penzkofer is entered for Buell Hannover.

SPEED's live coverage of the 65th Daytona 200 by Honda featuring the AMA Lockhart-Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Series will take the green flag starting at 1:30 p.m. EST on Saturday, March 11.

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Series AMA
Drivers Miguel Duhamel , Joshua Hayes , Jeremy McWilliams , Scott Russell , Eric Bostrom , Jake Zemke , Aaron Gobert , Michael Barnes , Steve Crevier , Bostjan Pintar , Rico Penzkofer , Bostjan Skubic , Danny Eslick
Teams Williams