DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Dec. 4, 2003) -- Eric Bostrom turned his first laps aboard the Ducati 999 factory motorcycle on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway as Ducati Austin and Valvoline EMGO Suzuki kicked off a three-day Michelin tire test...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Dec. 4, 2003) -- Eric Bostrom turned his first laps aboard the Ducati 999 factory motorcycle on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway as Ducati Austin and Valvoline EMGO Suzuki kicked off a three-day Michelin tire test in preparation for the 63rd Daytona 200 By Arai motorcycle classic on Saturday, March 6.
Bostrom had been riding for factory Kawasaki since 2000, but the motorcycle manufacturer pulled out of AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike competition for 2004 opening the door for the 27-year-old San Francisco rider to join Ducati.
On Thursday, Bostrom put on his new red and orange Ducati leathers and turned his first laps on the Ducati 999 that he'll race in the season-opening Daytona 200 By Arai, which is being held on a Saturday for the first time in event history. Bostrom's first impressions on the motorcycle were positive.
"The thing is really fun to ride," Bostrom said. "Daytona is a very difficult track to learn a new bike because it's so different from any other track we ride. Everything that comes here is different whether it's tires or big straightaways.
"My initial feelings when I jumped on the bike . . . it was really easy. Right now, we're just trying to figure out how to get in the turns a little bit quicker. The thing is really solid on the exits. Through the middle, it's probably the easiest bike I've ever ridden. Right now, we're just trying to get the entry down. Things are looking pretty good."
Bostrom, who along with Valvoline EMGO Suzuki's Steve Rapp and Vince Haskovec, will test on the historic 3.56-mile road course through Saturday. Beginning Monday, Dunlop will have a three-day tire test in preparation for the Daytona 200 By Arai.
Bostrom hopes his three days of tire testing can lead to a solid run in the Daytona 200 By Arai.
"Already I've got a good feeling for the tires," said Bostrom, whose best finish in the Daytona 200 By Arai was a second in 2001. "I think probably the biggest part of the puzzle to winning this race is to have a bike go around here for 57 quick laps.
"It's very difficult. Here, a lot of times if you have a good setup for brand new tires, it'll be a poor setup for used tires. You'll have some screaming laps (in the beginning of a run) but you'll fade to the back as soon as the tires go off."
One fact that Bostrom is aware of is that Ducati has never won the Daytona 200 By Arai. He says it would be special if he could lead the Italian motorcycle manufacturer to Gatorade Victory Lane at Daytona for the first time in the legendary race.
"I've heard about that," Bostrom said of Ducati's woes at Daytona. "It would be special. They've already showed me a huge amount of commitment to my program. Realistically, it's going to be a big job. There are a lot of teams that come here with a lot of history. To say we're going to come in and win doesn't seem like an educated statement. We're going to come out here with our race face on. I'm sure we'll know more after the next couple of days of testing where we stand."
Michelin tire testing continues on Friday. The session is free and open to the public with access to the Oldfield Grandstand through the lobby of DAYTONA USA.
Tickets for the Daytona 200 By Arai on Saturday, March 6 and the inaugural nighttime running of the Daytona Supercross By Honda on Friday night, March 5 are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling (386) 253-7223.