MOTO-ST: Daytona 8 Friday practice notes

Aprilia USA Team Fastest in SunTrust MOTO-ST Series Practice DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 17, 2008) -- The championship-leading No. 1 Aprilia USA / Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Aprilia Tuono 1000R turned the fastest time in practice for the final...

Aprilia USA Team Fastest in SunTrust MOTO-ST Series Practice

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 17, 2008) -- The championship-leading No. 1 Aprilia USA / Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Aprilia Tuono 1000R turned the fastest time in practice for the final round of the SunTrust MOTO-ST Series at Daytona International Speedway on Friday evening.

Ty Howard of Weatherford, Texas lapped the 3.51-mile Daytona track in one minute, 55.151 seconds (109.734 miles per hour) in preparation for Saturday's SunTrust MOTO-ST 8 Hours At Daytona to lead overall and in the Buell Motorcycle Company SuperSport Twins (SST) class.

Martin Cardenas of Medellin, Colombia was second quickest overall and second in SST aboard the No. 18 Suzuki SV1000S at 1:55.267 and the No. 28 Ducati Desmomaniacs Ducati 848 of Miami, Fla.'s Barrett Long was third with a time of 1:55.274.

Howard will share the No. 1 Aprilia with Mike Himmelsbach (Quakertown, Penn.) and Bryan West (Austin, Texas) in Saturday's season finale. The Aprilia USA / Lloyd Brothers Motorsports team comes into the race with a 16-point lead over the No. 75 Touring Sport Ducati squad, 197-181 in the SST standings.

"We were fast right off the bat but a lot of it was because I was able to draft the No. 18 bike," Howard said. "We swapped to a shock we had used earlier in the day and I got the feel back. It felt smooth and more comfortable and tire wear was better.

"The other two guys on the team have been just as fast as me, and that will make things easier tomorrow. I'll sleep a lot better tonight knowing that."

As the class points leader the No. 1 Aprilia will start from pole position on Saturday with the No. 75 Ducati 848 of Ryan Elleby (Powder Springs, Ga.), Ryan Gordon (Fairplay, S.C.) and Doug Polen (Camarillo, Calif.) alongside. Elleby set the fourth fastest time in practice on Friday with a 1:55.560 on the Touring Sport entry.

The No. 1 Aprilia needs to finish 12th or better in SST in Saturday's race to clinch its second straight class title.

"We're probably going to run a bit more conservatively at the beginning of the race, then see where we are at halfway," Howard added. "The most important thing is to win the championship but we'd like to win the race too."

Cardenas and the Suzuki team are making only their second start of the SunTrust MOTO-ST season. They also competed at Daytona in the season opener, with the No. 18 bike finishing fifth. Cardenas will share the SV1000S with Chris Ulrich (Lake Elsinore, Calif.) and Cory West (Vista, Calif.).

"The bike feels very good," Cardenas said. "I did a few laps yesterday and everything felt good. We have a good set-up and I'm hoping for a good race."

Long turned the third quickest time on the No. 28 Ducati before teammate Giulio Gallazzi of Milan, Italy suffered a crash in turn three halfway through the two-hour session and suffered a broken right clavicle.

Shawn Higbee (Oconomonoc, Wis.) set the fifth fastest time in SST with a 1:56.182 on the No. 8 Bruce Rossmeyer's Daytona Racing Buell 1125R he is scheduled to share with Michael Barnes (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Steve Crevier (Maple Ridge, B.C.).

The No. 8 Buell team is third in the SST class standings with 174 points and will share the second row of the starting grid with the No. 25 Team Hooters Aprilia Tuono 1000R, which is fourth in points.

The No. 23 Motocorse Bimota DB5 of Tampa, Fla.'s Greg Melka paced the BMW GrandSport Twins (GST) class at Daytona with a time of 2:04.283 (101.671 mph). Melka is sharing the bike with Chris Boy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and Kevin Mendez (Davie, Fla.).

"The Bimota is an awesome machine," Melka said. "It has good power and the grip from the front tire is incredible. We've been riding it pretty much as it is straight out of the trailer."

Second fastest was the No. 77 Touring Sport Ducati PS1000LE of Peter Friedland (Columbia, S.C.), Brad Phillips (Greer, S.C.) and Frank Shockley (Greenville, S.C.) with a time of 2:04.874. The No. 77 Ducati goes into Saturday's race with a slender two-point lead over the No. 70 James Gang / Hoban Brothers Racing Buell XB12R, 186-184, and will start on the class pole.

The No. 70 Buell set Friday's third quickest time with Jeff Johnson (Minneapolis, Minn.) setting a 2:05.075. He will team up with Paul James (Waukesha, Wis.) and Walt Sipp (Kansas City, Mo.) on Saturday.

Hawk Mazzotta of Carmel Valley, Calif. had the distinction of setting the fastest and second fastest times in the Sport Twins (ST) class. Mazzotta rode the No. 86 Suzuki SV650 to a 2:03.787 (102.079 mph) and turned a lap at 2:03.845 on the team's No. 87 entry.

"It's been a while since I've ridden the bike so I'm just getting used to it," Mazzotta said. "We're looking good. Everything so far is right there and we have about a second on the guys around us."

Mazzotta is joined on the Suzuki team by Scott Ryan (Lemant, Ill.), Brian Kcraget (Danville, Va.) and Kris Turner (Chattanooga, Tenn.)

The No. 9 Pair-A-Nines Kawasaki EX650 was third quickest in ST with a time of 2:05.032 from Jimmy Filice (Modesto, Calif.). Filice is sharing the bike with his son Justin Filice and Jay Springsteen (Lapeer, Mich.).

The No. 9 Kawasaki comes into the season finale second in the ST standings, eight points behind the No. 66 M4 Avteq Racing Suzuki SV650, which was fourth fastest in practice but will start from pole in the ST class as the points leader.

The SunTrust MOTO-ST Series 8 Hours At Daytona Finale gets the green flag at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.


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Series Other bike
Drivers Ryan Scott , Michael Barnes , Shawn Higbee , James Paul , Chris Ulrich , Cory West , Justin Filice , Barrett Long , Hawk Mazzotta , Martin Cardenas , Ryan Elleby , Bryan West , Kris Turner , Walt Sipp , Brian Kcraget