Defending Champs Still on Top in Daytona SunTrust MOTO-ST Series DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 1, 2008) -- The defending champion Aprilia USA team set the pace in practice Saturday for this weekend's season opening Daytona 300 at Daytona ...
Defending Champs Still on Top in Daytona SunTrust MOTO-ST Series
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 1, 2008) -- The defending champion Aprilia USA team set the pace in practice Saturday for this weekend's season opening Daytona 300 at Daytona International Speedway.
Ty Howard of Weatherford, Tex. recorded a time of one minute, 45.752 seconds on the No. 1 Aprilia Tuono 1000R to lead the rankings overall and in the Buell Motorcycle Company SuperSport Twins (SST) class. Howard's time was good for an average speed of 98.722 miles per hour around the 2.90-mile track.
Second quickest was the No. 8 Bruce Rossmeyer's Daytona Racing Buell 1125R ridden by Shawn Higbee at 1:45.974 and third was Texan Doug Polen on the No. 75 Touring Sport Ducati 848 with a time of 1:46.433.
"I rode the bike yesterday for the first time and it was so fast we had to detune it," said Howard, who won two events last year in helping Aprilia USA to the SST Teams Championship. "But it was even faster today. It doesn't spin coming off the corners like it was yesterday."
The SST class has a horsepower limit of 120 hp.
Last season's points standings will be used to set the grid for Sunday's race, meaning Howard and teammate Mike Himmelsbach of Quakertown, Penn. will start from the pole position.
Joining them on the front row will be the No. 2 RightsForBikers.com Suzuki SV1000 of Modesto, Calif.'s Justin Filice and Robert Fisher from Sarasota, Fla. They placed 12th in Saturday's practice session.
Higbee held the top time for the middle portion of the two-hour session in a very impressive performance on the Buell 1125R, which is making its racing debut at Daytona.
"I was not really happy with the front end yesterday but we swapped bikes and the new one is a lot better today," said the Oconomonoc, Wis. rider. "It's amazing we're up to speed already. We're learning a lot each time out and I don't think we've touched the potential of this bike."
Higbee will be joined by Dan Bilansky of Berlin, Wis. on the Buell in Sunday's race.
Veteran road race champion Polen is also debuting a new bike with the Touring Sport Ducati team, who has added an entry in the SST class after winning the BMW GrandSport Twins (GST) category last year.
"For a stock bike it's not too bad," said Polen, who will share the bike with Pete Friedland of Columbia, S.C. "From the time I got on the bike at the start of the session to the time I got off we were two seconds faster. That's not a bad start."
Michael Barnes set the fourth fastest time of the session at 1:46.585 on the No. 18 Roadracingworld.com Suzuki SV1000 he will share with Chris Ulrich and Cory West on Sunday.
Next up was the No. 29 Deeley/Ruthless Racing Inc. Buell 1125R of Steve Crevier and Dave Estok with a time of 1:46.747.
An impressive sixth overall was the No. 4 BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta BMW R1200 of Nate Kern and Richard Cooper. The team made a remarkable return to action on a stock back-up bike after its race bike was destroyed in a crash on Saturday morning that left rider Thomas Hintereiter with a broken hand.
Fastest in the GST class was the No. 20 Wagner Motorsports Racing Ducati 1000 SS ridden by Mark Reynolds of Woodstock, Conn. with a time of 1:52.463. Reynolds will share the bike with Boston rider Gus Holcomb on Sunday.
Second quickest was the No. 77 Touring Sport Ducati PS1000LE of defending Riders class champion Frank Shockley and Brad Phillips with a time of 1:53.695. Third went to John Linder and Chris Boy at 1:54.158 aboard the No. 69 RightsForBikers.com Ducati 1000 SS.
Hawk Mazzotta of Carmel Valley, Calif. was quickest in the Sport Twins (ST) class on the No. 87 SpeedWerks.com Suzuki SV650 he shares with Danville, Va.'s Brian Kcraget. Mazzotta recorded a lap at 1:52.047.
Second quickest was the No. 43 Cycle Dynamics Kawasaki EX650 of James Rispoli and Ted Cobb at 1:52.652 and defending champions Pair-A-Nines were third with Jay Springsteen and Jimmy Filice setting a time of 1:53.022 on the No. 9 Kawasaki.
A final practice session for the Daytona 300 will be held at 9:10 a.m. Sunday morning with the SunTrust MOTO-ST Series season opener scheduled to get the green flag at 2:00 p.m.