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Second day at Daytona tire test notes 2002-12-11

Motorcycles hit full throttle in Dunlop tire test at Daytona. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Dec. 11, 2002) -- The wait finally ended for motorcycle teams on Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway. After getting rained out on Monday and Tuesday,...

Motorcycles hit full throttle in Dunlop tire test at Daytona.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Dec. 11, 2002) -- The wait finally ended for motorcycle teams on Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway.

After getting rained out on Monday and Tuesday, pit road at the "World Center of Racing" was busying with activity as teams worked on their motorcycles and assisted Dunlop in developing a tire for Daytona 200 Week in March.

"It's a bit of a rush," said Yamaha's Damon Buckmaster. "We're trying to squeeze in as much as we can in the short amount of testing that we have now. The track is a little green but it's coming in better.

"We've got a whole truck load of stuff that we've got to test. It's a bit of shame (with the rain), but that's how it goes."

The tire test is imperative to Dunlop as they prepare tires for the high speeds that motorcycles produce on the 3.56-mile road course. It's also a great opportunity for teams to measure where their new equipment stands.

"It's a Dunlop tire test and they want you to access their tires, but it's our first chance to get to ride our new bike," said Yoshimura Suzuki's Aaron Yates, winner of the Pro Honda Oils Supersport event at Daytona in 2002. "So my goal is to get out there and do some laps on the new 1000 and see how it goes. Hopefully put some fast laps in. I'm sure when it comes down to it, the tires will be good and we're going to go fast."

As the test was winding down in the late afternoon on Wednesday, Anthony Gobert, aboard a Ducati, had posted the fastest time of the test with a lap of 117.068 mph.

One of the more anxious riders to see the start of this tire test is Aussie Mat Mladin.

During Daytona 200 Week in 2002, Mladin was on a quest to win his third straight AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike championship and his third straight Daytona 200 By Arai.

But on the Friday before the Daytona 200, Mladin lost control of his No. 1 Yoshimura Suzuki in the International Horseshoe during a practice session. He suffered an injury to his arm that prevented him from competing in the Daytona 200 and dealt him a setback in the points standings.

Mladin's woes continued throughout the season as he struggled with his Suzuki GSXR-750 and went winless. As he waited out the rain earlier this week, Mladin laid down the challenge to his team to return to their glory days with their GSX-R1000.

"Certainly a lot things need to be proven inside the team before we're going to get back to the state we're in a couple of years ago," Mladin said.

One of the surprise visitors to the Dunlop tire test is sports car and open-wheel driver Max Papis, who was part of the 2002 Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winning team. Papis said he was visiting friend Ben Bostrom, who is returning to the AMA with Honda after three seasons in Europe.

Dunlop tire testing will wrap up on Thursday (9 a.m. - 1 p.m.) Testing is open and free to the public with access to the Oldfield Grandstand through the lobby of DAYTONA USA. To purchase tickets for Daytona 200 Week, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.

-dis-

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About this article
Series AMA
Drivers Max Papis , Aaron Yates , Damon Buckmaster