AMA Pro Road Racing and Dunlop Tire Test at Daytona International Speedway: Day 2 Report; Friday's Night Practice Draws Strong Reviews; Dunlops Continue to Shine DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (December 6, 2008) - AMA Pro Daytona SportBike teams and riders...
AMA Pro Road Racing and Dunlop Tire Test at Daytona International Speedway: Day 2 Report; Friday's Night Practice Draws Strong Reviews; Dunlops Continue to Shine
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (December 6, 2008) - AMA Pro Daytona SportBike teams and riders took to the traditional Daytona International Speedway road course for a second consecutive night practice Saturday evening, but yesterday's initial night run on the 3.51-mile course has already produced positive reports and an exciting new perspective on "The World Center of Racing."
The season-opening Daytona 200 by Honda, March 6, will be the first running of America's premier motorcycle road race under the lights. In preparation for the historic nighttime event, a pair of evening practices were added to this weekend's three days of Dunlop Tire testing at DIS. Friday's initial run went off without a hitch and tonight's session is expected to be even better after AMA Pro Road Racing and DIS officials made some slight modifications to the direction and angle of some of the lighting during the day on Saturday.
"It was a really cool experience to ride at night," said Erion Racing's Jake Zemke, who rode a Honda CBR600RR under the lights. "It was something I haven't done since I was a little kid racing dirt tracks, although it is a little bit different running around Daytona on the banking at nighttime than it is going around a quarter-mile dirt track. It was quite a different experience. It was really cool. There are a couple of spots on the track that we need to address and they are supposed to have it fixed for us tonight already."
Zemke, who won the 2006 Daytona 200 by Honda, believes the biggest winners in the historic decision to run under the lights will be the race fans.
"It's going to be really cool for the spectators," Zemke said. "It is a whole new element we haven't seen in the U.S. Obviously, there's been a GP at night (Qatar) this year and now we're going to have a nighttime race in the States. It is going to be really cool for the fans. They are going to enjoy themselves in the evening when it's cooled off a bit."
Larry Pegram, who finished third in last year's Daytona 200 by Honda and is testing this weekend on a Ducati 1098R American Superbike, immediately saw the appeal of racing at night.
"It was a pretty neat deal," Pegram said. "I couldn't believe how bright it was, for one thing, and it is going to enhance the racing because the tires will stay cooler. Everybody can pretty much go full-go the entire time. It will be something cool to do Friday night for all of the people in town and they can come in and party and watch the race at the same time."
Six portable Musco lighting units in the infield have been combined with the permanent lighting around the remainder of the circuit to light up DIS like never before. Despite the unprecedented level of illumination, racing after the sun has set will still present some unique challenges to riders.
"You just have to learn some new marks," said Josh Hayes, who finished a close second to Zemke in the 2006 Daytona 200 and is debuting with the factory Yamaha team this weekend for 2009. "You can't see the crowd and you can't see the grandstands or anything like that. It is quite a bit different in that respect."
DECADE ON DUNLOP Zemke is well familiar with riding on Dunlop Tires and gave the new series-standard AMA Pro Road Racing tires that are debuting this weekend high marks.
"I have been riding on Dunlop Tires for, I think, about 10 years now, going on 11," Zemke said. "This tire is really no different than the tire we raced on here last year. The grip level is great and the tires have been solid on the Daytona SportBike. We haven't had any issues and we have gotten really good durability out of them. The tire life is excellent. Dunlop has done a great job and it is going to be a whole lot of fun. Everybody is on the same rubber. Nobody has got any excuses now, so let the best man win."
ONE AND DONE Saturday morning's scheduled practice for Daytona SportBikes was scrubbed after early rain showers, but the division will get a final chance to take to DIS tomorrow at 9 a.m. in the final day of this weekend's test. American Superbike practice follows Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. and will bring the 2008 AMA Pro Road Racing Dunlop Tire test to a close at 5 p.m.