Kel Edge, Andy Rixon
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Ben Spies' Girl Friend Leticia Needs Your Help!
Rizla Suzuki on the Briish Superbike Development trail
The 3.53km circuit hosts an official Dunlop British Superbike test from Friday 16th – Sunday 18th March, with most of the main protagonists for the 2007 title attending. Chris Walker and Cal Crutchlow are keen to maintain the fast development progress achieved at the previous five team tests.
Albacete features a wealth of fast, slow and tricky corners, along with short straights and varied braking zones, making it ideal for testing Superbikes to their limits. Rizla Suzuki is developing the all-new GSX-R1000 so it can compete within the 13-round British Superbike Championship which starts on April 9th at Brands Hatch in Kent.
Rizla Suzuki Team Manager Simon Buckmaster said: "So far we have made impressive progress in every test session. We came back from Guadix at the end of last month and have been flat out in the workshops applying new ideas, settings and specifications to the bikes to take them a step forward for the Albacete test.
"Chris and Cal are bearing up fantastically well under the pressure of developing the new Rizla Suzuki. Their feedback is what is guiding our development and it is paying big dividends with lap times tumbling and Rizla Suzuki vying for the top spots on the time sheets against our much more established competitors.
"We want more of the same at Albacete. More fast lap times and development information so we can make even more progress. This is our penultimate test so it is critical we achieve as much as possible and everyone is ready for three days of very hard work. Our thanks go to Dunlop for inviting us to this test and we look forward to trying out some of its new pioneering tyres."
You can follow the team's progress for all three days of the Albacete test on www.rizla-suzuki.co.uk. Rizla Suzuki's final pre-season test is at Snetterton on March 24th-25th.
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Cherry Pickin' Factory Hondas Pop
Teammate Ben Attard doubled the squad’s joy, running a race nearly as flawless as the Californian’s to take the checkered flag as the runner-up.
While the pitlane oddsmakers expected another Honda/Dunlop roll, Team M4 EMGO Suzuki’s Michael Barnes completed the underdog revolt, holding off Celtic Racing’s impressive former GP runner, Chaz Davies, to hand Pirelli a sweep of the podium in the grueling and unpredictable contest.
The race’s opening twenty laps was a frenetic, competitive affair, with a pack of eight (consisting of American Honda’s Miguel DuHamel and Jake Zemke, Rapp, Attard, Barnes, Davies, Erion Honda’s Josh Hayes, and Yamaha USA’s Jason DiSalvo) drafting back and forth repeatedly as they made up the lead group.
As the riders began filtering in for their first stop, things went horribly wrong for the Honda contingent. First DuHamel started slowing to a stop, only to have teammate Zemke coast by him. Reigning class champ Hayes barely made it back into his pits and his Erion Honda teammate Aaron Gobert’s CBR600RR shutdown shortly following his stop.
A fueling issue (whether they ran out of gas or there was a common fuel pump issue is unknown as of posting) knocked the four big Honda/Dunlop combos out of contention for the win in a bizarre few minutes less than a 1/3 of the way into the race.
Honda Road Race Manager Ron Heben said, “It’s one of those things that we have to go back and find out. We did all the fuel mileage and everything this whole week and the temperatures have been pretty similar to what we got today. We have no reason to risk it to go for the exact lap. We have a pretty broad window of where we can do two stops and still finish the race. Obviously, we’ve got some kind of glitch out there.
“It’s a big disappointment for today because of Honda’s success in the Daytona 200.”
Hayes, Attard, and Davies all took a turn at the front during the refueling shuffle, but once the stops were all taken, Rapp emerged the clear favorite. Other than a near crash when he hit a fallen knee puck around mid-distance, the Attack Kawasaki pilot ran and measured, yet rapid race to claim the 200 victory.
However, after the race Rapp admitted he didn’t feel assured of the win until the very final moments. He explained, “To be honest, on the final lap I was hoping I wouldn’t run out of gas. The last thing (team owner) Richard Stanboli said to me on my last pitstop as I was getting ready to take off was, ‘You came in too soon.’ What am I going to do now? So I was thinking I might have to come in again. I ran my own race, watched the pitboard, watched my gap. I actually started backing off on the banking the last four laps just to save some gas. I didn’t feel comfortable until I was coming down the tri-oval in sixth gear and it was running fast and I knew I could coast across the line and make it. As I got there, I felt good. It was crazy.
“As a racer, it’s part of history. If you can’t be known for winning championships, if you do win a race you want to win the big ones. This is the biggest race for us. For me, being with a new team on a new bike with new tires, it makes me feel good. Maybe over the years I just didn’t have the right combination. Until you get around to trying different things, you just don’t know. Not to say the other teams and tires weren’t good, but this suits my style. Today everything worked the way I needed it.”
Teammate Attard was almost as satisfied as Rapp. “I’ve been looking forward to this race for a long time, looking forward to crossing the finish line. It’s a dream come true. Obviously to win wouldn’t have been a bit better, but Steve did that. It’s really good for the team. Steve’s got a lot of experience and hopefully I can learn a lot from him.
“The ’07 Kawasaki ZX-6RR is unbelievable, the Attack Performance crew worked on it. It’s a great combination with Pirelli tires underneath. Steve and I are going to battle for the championship.”
Third-place finisher Barnes said, “I’m pretty stoked. We’ve been working hard and the FX class is getting really competitive. I think we put on a good show.
“As it turned out, Chaz really poured it on thick and was doing good lap times, so I had to dig really deep and up my pace on my third stint. With 13-14 laps to go, my pit signaled that Hayes had to pit one more time, and Chaz and I were battling for the podium. So I started digging real deep. We got around Chaz and I started pulling a bit. I didn’t have much tire late in the race, so I was glad to have gotten a gap on him when I did.”
’06 class contender Jason DiSalvo took a fairly quiet fifth place finish, just over ten seconds behind Davies. Despite his problems, Hayes salvaged sixth, one spot a head of Blackfoot Picotte Motorsports Suzuki’s Pascal Picotte.
Local hero Josh Day picked up a superb eighth aboard his Yamaha R6, with Slovenian Bostjan Pintar and Californian David Anthony rounding out the top ten.
125cc GP Class Added to Road Atlanta Nationals...ZZZZZZ
The 125 Grand Prix National ChampionshipTM race at Road Atlanta will be the penultimate round of the 13-race USGPRU season. This truly Grand Prix race series has proven to be a great training ground for the youth racers to learn from some of the best racers in the country. Additionally, it allows these racers to showcase their skills and potential to the national teams they hope to ride for some day.
"The already spectacular USGPRU season just got a lot more interesting," said USGPRU President Stewart Aitken-Cade. "I'm extremely happy that the staff at Road Atlanta and AMA Racing are in support of us for this event.”
"The 125s will complement the normal AMA program very well as our bikes may sound and look different, but the racing will be just as exciting. The extreme elevation changes and ultra-technical sections of the freshly paved Road Atlanta will certainly push our young racers' skills to the limit. I think the fans will really get a kick out of how amazing these young racers are and how fast they can get these little GP machines to go around the Road Atlanta circuit."
"We are excited to have the USGPRU as part of the Suzuki Superbike Showdown presented by Makita," said Road Atlanta General Manager Brian Skuza. "This will provide extra entertainment for our fans, and will give these young riders the opportunity to compete in the national spotlight before a tremendous crowd."
This will mark the second time the USGPRU will run as part of an AMA-sanctioned weekend in 2007. The 125 Grand Prix National ChampionshipTM will also race at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah in June.
For more information about the 125 Grand Prix National ChampionshipTM or to register for the event, visit www.USGPRU.net.
Tickets for the Suzuki Superbike Showdown presented by Makita are now on sale online at www.roadatlanta.com or by calling 800-849-RACE.
The USGPRU is sponsored by Roadracingworld.com, Rising Sun Cycles, Hjelm Motorsports, Ian Emberton, Motion Pro, Power Stands, Redline Motorsports, Regina Chains, Repsol Lubricants, Chickenhawk Racing and EBC Brakes.
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Casey Stoner fought off Pole winner and favorite Valentiono Rossi to take the first race win of the new 800cc MotoGP formular for Ducati, in one of the few races this year where the Ducati bikes can run in full Marlboro livery.
2007 MotoGP Season Opener at Qatar
Losail, Qatar,Saturday Mar 10th - Casey Stoner made a perfect start with the Ducati Marlboro Team at Qatar today, riding to a magnificent season-opening victory aboard his Desmosedici GP7. The Australian's breathtaking maiden win in the first race of MotoGP's new 800cc era repeats Loris Capirossi's 2006 season-opening win at Jerez and follows Troy Bayliss' 2006 season-ending win at Valencia on the 990cc GP6. Capirossi had an unluckier start to his 2007 campaign, sliding off without injury at one-third distance while charging forward and aiming for a podium result.
Casey Stoner, race winner, World Championship leader - "We couldn't ask for much more, it was my first time racing with Ducati and Bridgestone, a perfect start. I couldn't be happier with the weekend, the team worked perfectly and the bike and tyres were perfect in the race. We had a bit of a speed advantage and though we had some dramas in other parts of the track I played to the strengths of the bike and was able to do some pretty fast lap times. Valentino and I had a good battle, it was nice riding up front again. When he came by later on I decided to see how much further the bike can go and I was able to break a bit of an advantage. On the last lap I didn't realise I had a gap and rode the fastest lap, which shows how well the Bridgestones worked. I'm really happy with the way things are going and think we'll get stronger and stronger, but we'll have to see how the season pans out. I'm leading the championship which feels a little strange but it's only the first race of a very, very long year."
2007 MotoGP Championship Preview
The preseason has been one of the busiest to date, as all involved in the MotoGP class have had to adapt to new 800cc bikes brought in this season. On track since the morning after the Valencian race, and only pausing for an enforced six-week testing ban, both riders and machines have come on leaps and bounds since their early developmental stage. The Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar will be the first chance to see an all-800cc grid go tooth and nail in a race setting, but early indications point to an extremely competitive playing field in MotoGP.
World Champion Nicky Hayden will be looking to start his title defence with a bang at a track where he finished second last year. His latest visit to the Losail International Circuit saw him crashing twice in testing and concluding the test low down on the timesheets, and this is sure to provide the already motivated ‘Kentucky Kid’ with added incentive to push for victory and answer the critics.
He will have a tough task ahead of him though, as he tries to beat 2006 runner-up and five-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi at a circuit where the Italian has quite a pedigree. ‘The Doctor’ has won the last two visits to Losail, and is renowned for starting the season well. Last year’s opening Grand Prix at Jerez was the first time since 2000 that he had failed to win the opening race of the campaign, and recent Official Test performances at Qatar and Jerez- where he took the BMW M Award for the fastest lap in a 40-minute timed session show that both he and the Yamaha M1 are shaping up well for 2007.
Second at the timed shootout, and fastest last time out in testing at Qatar, Dani Pedrosa is also one of the form riders of the moment. The Spaniard’s 250cc experience seems to be a perfect compliment to the riding style required by the Honda RC212V, and Pedrosa’s recent results and impressive debut season make him a serious title contender this year.
Other riders and teams to shine during preseason include Colin Edwards, a regular at the business end of the timesheets over the past few months, Honda satellite rider Marco Melandri and the Suzuki duo of Chris Vermeulen and John Hopkins. The latter will be making his return to the track where last year he suffered mechanical failure in the race, and which in turn gave him a huge highside at last month’s Official Test, causing injuries which ruled him out of the final preseason test.
Changing teams for 2007 are last season’s Qatar pole position man Casey Stoner (Ducati), Makoto Tamada (Yamaha), Carlos Checa (Honda) and Shinya Nakano (Honda), whilst there are MotoGP returns for veterans Alex Barros (Ducati), Jeremy McWilliams (Ilmor), Andrew Pitt (Ilmor) and Olivier Jacque (Kawasaki). After last year’s influx of young talent, only one newcomer, Yamaha satellite rider Sylvain Guintoli, undertakes his rookie season this year.
Nicky Hayden - Repsol Honda Team - “Testing is one thing, but racing is always going to be the only way to know where you are really at. We need to improve in some areas definitely, and there are a lot of guys who are coming into this season fast and motivated. The new regulations are in place, but the racing remains simple: if you ride round the fastest then you win."
Perfect start for Fiat Yamaha Team at first 800cc Grand Prix in Qatar
After an excellent performance at the test here just a few weeks ago, Rossi and Edwards were both confident of a strong start today and there were no surprises from their 800cc M1s, running in their new Fiat Yamaha Team livery for the first time. Edwards finished the morning session on top with his team-mate close behind in third whilst Rossi dominated the second free practice this afternoon, sitting at the top of the time sheets for the majority of the hour-long session. Edwards, despite not bettering his time from this morning, was second, just over three-tenths of a second behind his Italian team-mate.
Today was also the first day of the new MotoGP tyre regulations, which stipulate a maximum of 31 tyres (14 fronts and 17 rears) per rider during a Grand Prix weekend. This has forced the teams to alter the way they work throughout the practice sessions but Rossi especially is confident that these new rules will help rather than hinder the riders, bringing increased clarity on set-up decisions and making it easier to plan the weekend's work.
Valentino Rossi, Position: 1st Time: 1'56.464 - "It was a very good beginning for all of the team; it's a new season and we have a new sponsor and livery so it's good to start with both Colin and I at the top! We were in a good situation at the test here also but really the most important test was Jerez, because there we understood a lot more about our bike and we made some important changes. It seems here that the setting is very good and we were fast from the start this morning. I'm very happy with my Yamaha today, I can ride it well, I have a good rhythm and it's great fun to ride here in Qatar! For me, the new tyre rule is very good. Like this you know just what you have from the start, it's much more logical and there is less confusion for everyone. It means we can make decisions more quickly and I think, especially with a delicate bike like ours, that it's going to be helpful to have such a clear situation with tyres from the start of every weekend. Now let's see how we get on tomorrow and try to keep this rhythm going throughout the weekend."
Colin Edwards, Position: 2nd, Time: 1'56.665- "Today's gone pretty good, I think we can say we've made a strong start to the weekend. After finding a great setting here at the test we made a few more changes in Jerez and made the bike even better. We started off today with the bike set-up pretty similar to Jerez, with just a few small changes, and it seemed to work well from the off. We had a little bit of an issue this morning with a tyre, but we compared notes with Valentino afterwards and sorted that out pretty quickly between us. It's the first day of the new tyre rules and it's a little bit scary to know that there's no longer an inexhaustible supply, but we just have to slightly adapt the way we work to accommodate it and I think it will work well in the long run. Here it could be more of an issue because the conditions can be quite changeable from day to day, but we'll keep our fingers crossed that we stay in the 'range' and save one of each of our best tyres for race day.
Rossi Takes Pole in Record Time with Yamaha, Casey Stoner Close 2nd on Ducati
Valentino Rossi will begin his attempt to regain the MotoGP world title from pole position tomorrow on the new Fiat sponsored Yamaha M1, after a scorching lap at the end of the MotoGP session. The Italian put an incredible 1’55.002 lap on the board, edging out last year’s poleman Casey Stoner now aboard the Desmosedici Ducati, by five thousandths of a second and smashing his pole record time of 1’55.683. It is Rossi's 46th career pole, and an ideal start to the 800cc era for the Italian.
Valentino Rossi on Pole: 1st, Time: 1'55.002 - "It's great to have my first pole of the season at the very first race and it's extra special for me because it's pole number 46 of my career! I hope this is a good omen for tomorrow. I'm really happy for this pole position because everyone has worked so hard; all my mechanics, engineers, Michelin…everyone involved. Yamaha has built us a great bike. Anyway tomorrow is another day and the real race, but we're starting from first and Colin is on the front row too so I hope we can put in a good Yamaha show! We have a couple of things to check in morning practice but we're more or less ready. I really like this track, the grip is great, it's fast and technical and it's possible to have a lot of fun with the new Yamaha. It's also quite quiet here, with not too many people and this is a nice atmosphere in which to start the season as I can focus completely on racing without too many other distractions! I think tomorrow there are three or four riders who can fight at the top with Colin and me, but we're feeling confident in our garage."
Casey Stoner, 2nd fastest, 1m 55.007s - "Pretty much the whole day's been quite good, we had a real good qualifying session, I managed to do a good lap time, and this morning we did a really good race run, doing some consistent fast times. We seem to have been pretty competitive the whole weekend, in the top three, so I'm really happy. We did have a couple more dramas today, like this morning when I was pulling out of pit lane going into the first corner and the bike just went away before I'd even entered the corner. It was quite strange, we're not sure what happened. I'm going to go into tomorrow's race and do my best, I'm not expecting anything, I just hope things turn out the way I plan them to because sometimes they don't. I'm really confident with the tyres and the team and the whole bike, so I think we can have a good result here."
After fast times yesterday and this morning, Colin Edwards set the pace early on, before eventually taking the final spot on the front row. Toni Elias, Dani Pedrosa and John Hopkins completed the top six, the latter surprising many with his great ride at less than 100% fitness. Loris Capirossi will start from the head of row three tomorrow, holding off Randy de Puniet and reigning World Champion Nicky Hayden.
Elias, Capirossi and Marco Melandri were amongst the riders to take a trip onto the gravel during the session, whilst there were crashes for Shinya Nakano and Jeremy McWilliams. The Ilmor GP rider will be in action tomorrow, having been examined for further damage to his injured leg.
Pos. Rider Manu. Nat. Total Time
Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar
Stoner started from second on the grid, but set the tone for the race when he pulled a cheeky manoeuvre on Valentino Rossi at the end of lap one. A three-rider pack then formed, with Stoner, Rossi and Dani Pedrosa breaking away from the rest of the field. The difference between the Ducati, Yamaha and Honda bikes was illustrated perfectly during the trio’s duel, as Rossi and Pedrosa either made up ground or overtook Stoner, before being caught on the straight courtesy of the Desmosedici GP7’s monstrous power.
Rossi attempted to take a more permanent lead on lap 18, and it seemed that ‘The Doctor’ was on course for a third consecutive victory at Losail. However, Stoner showed his ever-growing maturity to bite straight back at his Italian rival and pull away over the final laps to have a cushion of nearly three seconds as he took the chequered flag.
Third-placed Pedrosa bowed out of the proceedings when he ran wide on a corner, not only leaving a two-rider battle for the win but also allowing John Hopkins to provide a real podium threat. Hopkins was determination personified, refusing to take things easy despite still being far from 100% fit. The Suzuki rider was only half a second away from both Pedrosa and his debut appearance on the podium, and confirmed his status as one of the gutsiest riders in motorcycle racing.
Marco Melandri and Colin Edwards rounded off the top six, with the latter having dropped down the field owing to a bad start. Behind them, Chris Vermeulen concluded a positive day for Suzuki, ahead of reigning World Champion Nicky Hayden. The 2006 title holder never really established himself during the practice sessions or the race, but will be hoping to find some sort of quick solution before Jerez as he attempts to retain his crown.
Alex Barros finished ninth on his return to MotoGP, ahead of Honda debutant Shinya Nakano. There were crashes for Loris Capirossi, Carlos Checa and Randy de Puniet, without serious consequences, whilst Andrew Pitt suffered mechanical problems and had to return to the garage on the only Ilmor bike to run today. Jeremy McWilliams had chosen against riding as a result of his crash yesterday.
Results MotoGP: (22 laps = 118.36 km)
Valentino ROSSI 1'55.002 168.414 Km/hh Fastest Lap (New record):
World Championship Positions:
Alex de Angelis took second after an impressive performance, having set a series of fastest race laps at the midway point to join up with the trailing group. He then progressed past both Luthi and Barbera to cap a fine season start for the San Marino rider.
For Barbera, the first race for Team Toth was a chance to prove his quality in the 250 category. Having been on the pace during practice, he stormed out of the blocks before engaging in a duel with Luthi for the final podium place. Although Barbera’s place was well deserved, few would have begrudged the Swiss rider a rostrum finish at his maiden 250cc Grand Prix appearance. He was followed by Andrea Dovizioso in fifth, the fastest Honda of the day, and Roberto Locatelli. The Metis Gilera veteran almost had a repeat performance of last year’s astonishing comeback through the field, and eventually capped off the top six. Yuki Takahashi, Julian Simon, Marco Simoncelli and Shuhei Aoyama completed the first ten past the line.
Mika Kallio had to pull into the pits after suffering a mechanical problem on the final laps, ending what had been a good race for the KTM rider. His team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama was also out of luck, crashing on lap two along with reigning 125cc champ Alvaro Bautista.
Reigning AMA Superbike Champ Ben Spies is on pole with the all new GSXR1000.
2007 AMA Superbike preview: Yoshimura Suzuki prepares for a Return Engagement
Staurday March 8, 2007 - Defending AMA Superbike Champion Ben Spies aboard the all new 2007 Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 started off the 2007 AMA Superbike Championship in grand style with his win of the Superbike season opener on Saturday. Historically once the most important motorcycle races in America, if the not the world, the real Daytona 200 Miler has now been relegated to a 15-lap side show of the makeshift 3.56 mile infield road course incorporating partial banking sections because of track and tire safety issues associated with running on the high speed banking with its unsympathetic concrete walls.
Tire issues continued to plague the race despite the reduced laps, forcing early leader and race win contender Eric Bostrom to bring his highly competitive Yamaha R1 into pits on lap 12 for a new front tire. It is estimated thay only 5,000 enthusaiasts attended this year's Superbike race, continuing the downward spiral to the event's lowest attendance numbers ever, in comparrison to some 500,000 motorcycle enthusiasts being just outside the track in Daytona for annual Bike Week.
2007 AMA Superbike Preview: Yoshimura Suzuki prepares for a Return Engagement
American Honda returns with Miguel DuHamel and Jake Zemke as their CBR1000RR enters its third year of AmHon development. The team feels it’s high time to rise back to the level of bonafide contender, but with a now outdated bike, no support from HRC of japn, and limited in-house development capabilities, the safe bet is the American Honda squad will now be further back than ever
Kawasaki has ratcheted up their effort over the offseason as well, replacing new Yosh man Tommy Hayden with ’06 Supersport/Superstock double champ Jamie Hacking and expecting Superbike soph. Roger Hayden to step up in his second year on the ZX-10R Superbike. In addition, former World Superbike and MotoGP star Akira Yanagawa will join the duo this weekend in Superbike action at Daytona.
And while Ducati announced a temporary absence from the series as they retool their sportbike line-up (and hope for regulations that allow entry for their new machinery), Yamaha and MV Agusta have stepped up to fill the void.
No one can suggest Yamaha’s long-awaited return to the class is anything less than full-bore with former class runner-up Eric Bostrom leading the way, followed by long-time Superbike prospect Jason DiSalvo, who has the potential to post blisteringly quick laps and ruffle a few feathers in his Superbike debut season.
Eraldo Ferracci’s return is just as welcome, as the former Ducati man keeps the Italian flavor alive in the paddock with his exotic MV Agustas that will be ridden by former FIM Superstock star Luca Scassa and AMA undercard hero Matt Lynn.
Meanwhile, the 'B Teams' are looking more and more 'A' class with Jordan Motorsports Suzuki adding multi-time AMA Superbike race winner Aaron Yates to the fold, joining holdover Jacob Holden on the squad.
Ben Spies Tops Wednesday Paractice
Yamaha USA’s Eric Bostrom was the only other rider to crack into the ‘38s, hustling his all-new ’07 YZF R1 around the high banks at a clip of 1:38.966. American Honda’s Jake Zemke and Miguel DuHamel were fourth and fifth, respectively, followed by Superstock ace Geoff May on the Team M4 EMGO Suzuki, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jamie Hacking, second Yamaha man Eric Bostrom, Hacking’s teammate Roger Hayden, and Jordan Motorsports Suzuki’s Aaron Yates.
Yoshimura Suzuki On Pole for Saturday Superbike
Said Spies: “It felt really good. We went out and did some race set-up on race tyres early in the session and got going really good. That's the most important thing and that's when the bike is working the best. We threw on the softer tyres and tried to go for a lap. I knew from the first lap that the right side of the tyre didn't have as much grip as the race one did. I went in the first lap and ran wide through the horseshoe and had to go an extra lap. I came back around and said, 'I'm not going to do it.' And I did the same thing. That's when we put together the 37.7 lap.”
Eric Bostrom did a very commedible job of putting American Yamaha's new R1 Superbike on the front row in 3rd place, a half second ahead of Kawaskis Tommy Lee Hayden on his ZX10. New Yoshimura team rider Tommy Hayden will start from fifth on the grid after posting a time of 1:38.930. The quickest American Honda rider is Miguel duHammel at 1.5 secounds off the pol pace, and with teammate Jak Zemke back in 12th. The new Eraldo Ferracci MV Agusta factory team with Matt Lynn and Luca Scassa will start from15th and 16th position ahead of former AMA National Champions Doug Chandler and Kurtis Roberts riding production Honda CBR1000s in their newly organized team.
AMA Superbike Qualifying:
Ben Spies, Number 1 takes takes first Daytona 2007
Tire issues continued to plague the race despite the reduced laps, forcing early leader and race win contender Eric Bostrom to bring his highly competitive Yamaha R1 into pits on lap 12 for a new front tire. It is estimated thay only 5,000 enthusaiasts attended this year's Superbike race, continuing the spiral down to the event's lowest attendance ever, in comparrison to some 500,000 motorcycle enthusiasts being just outside the track in Daytona for annual Bike Week.
Eric Bostom used his front row start from the Pit Lane grid to take the immediate race lead with his Yamaha R1 into turn one ahead of pole sitters Ben Spies and Matt Mladin on the Yoshimura GSXR1000s. Yamaha team manager Keith McCarty has done an incredible job in making the team's return to AMA Superbike so competive right out of the gate, showing they have a much better relationship to the Yamaha racing departmant in Japan than some of the other distributor teams.
The entire grid got away tightly bunched and as they funneled down into the Turn 2 Horse Shoe their was a lot of contact. The front brake lever of Tommy Hayden's factory Kawasaki ZX10 tagged the rear of Aaron Yates's Jordan Suzuki, tossing Hayden's bike to the ground where he took out both Mladin and another rider as they slide on top of each other off across the grass. Both Tommy and Yates would rejoin the race a lap down and out of contention.
The 1st lap still sees Hacking in the lead with his Yamaha, closely persured by Spies who is passed on the banking by teammate Mladin, Miguel DuHamel on the American Honda CBR1000RR and Kawasaki's other Hayden, Tommy, all in a tight race for the lead. Not far hehind are Zemke, May, Holden, Kawasaki's former World Superebike star Akiria Yanagawa now a 3rd member of the US Kawasaki team, and Matt Lynn on the Ferracci MV Agusta.
Former 5-time Superbike champ Matt Mladin is looking to retake his crown this season and on lap 3 drafted past Hacking on the banging to take the lead. Mat held the lead most of the way through the infield, then made a rare mistake as he ran wide into a corner and tucked the front wheel as he tried turning on the marbles and slid off into the grass. He picked up the bike and rejoined the raxce from the back, about a quarter of a lap behind and no chance of a podium spot in shuch a short race. Then Roger Hayden is also down and out after loosing the front of his Kawasaki. Daytona is not liking front tires for some reason, this year.
As Mladin recovers from his spill back in the pack, Ben Spies inherits the lead from his teammate on Lap 4 and never looks back, churning out a wickedly fast pace that is also fully in control. Still within striking distance are Eric Bostrom and Duhamel who trade 2nd spot on the banking every few laps, and behind them are Zemke, Holden, Yanagawa, May, Lynn and DiSalvo, with Mladin up to 10th by Lap 10.
Then unexpectedly on Lap 12, Eric Bostrom brings the Yamaha R1 into the pits for a front tire change. Matt Lynn brings the MV Agusta in as well. Neither of their pit crews are set up for changing tires in the short 15 lap race, so effectively their races are over. Extreamely disappointing for Bostom who was in contention for the win his first time out with Yamaha's new superbike. And disappointing for Lynn who was looking for a good result with MV Agusta's first ever Superbike race. Some of the front Dunlops were just not holding together.
Ben Spies carried on for 3 more laps to win the Daytona 53 Miler for Yoshimura Suzuki unchallenged, followed a couple seconds back by Honda's DuHamel and Jake Zemke, with Japanese rider Yanagawa doing a very creditable jon to move up the 4th in the last alp ahead of Holden, May, DiSalvo, Mladin, Tommy Hayden, Ellison and Arron Yates in 11th.
As the 2007 AMA Superbike Series leaves Daytona and heads for Califonia Speedway in 5 weeks, it looks like it will be a very exciting Championship this year with as many as 8 riders capable of winning on any one weekend, though Spies has to be pegged the favorite.
The only disapointment is that the AMA continues to endorse Daytona Speedway, one of the worst tracks on the tour, because of tradition and the fact the AMA makes its biggest back gate money here from all the diffeernt race classes witha week of club racing. While the premier Superbike Class is treated as a shortened side show to the stupid 600cc Formula Extreame 200 Miler.
Daytona International Speedway has the money to build an exciting and great infield only road course if they wanted, just like Indianapolis did, which would get them FIM approval and might bring both MotoGP and World Superbike to the 'Home of Speed", but for some unknown reason the Speedway doesn't want to, and the AMA does have the balls to force the issue or change the venue.
Daytona Superbike Results: 15 laps, 3.49 mile track
Troy Bayliss takes his Race One victory lap alongside Francisco Nieto on the factory PSG-1 Kawasaki.
2007 SBK Corona Extra Superbike World Championship, Round 2 of 13
Seagulls and Bikinis and Brilliant Racing