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2007 Daytona Racing Action
AMA Supersport and Superstock: Racing from the Streets
MotoGP and World Superbike racing fascinates us with its high-tech machines, exotic locations and international super stars. But if there are two series that the serious American street rider should pay attention to, it's AMA Supersport and Superstock. The reason? In Superstock and Supersport, the machines you see lapping the track are nearly identical to the model you can ride off the showroom floor. We're not talking "stock" in the NASCAR sense of the word. AMA regulations dictate that engine, chassis and brakes are as the same parts that leave the factory. You can't buy Nicky's RC212V, but a down payment and a Parts Unlimited catalog is all that separates you from Ben Bostrom's Superstock R1.
The motorcycle industry wants to sell sportbikes and that's why they care about racing. With the spring riding season right around the corner and brand new models on dealer's floors, few races are as important as those that take place during Daytona Bike Week.
This year it was the Superstock final that ushered in the start of the 2007 AMA pro racing season, the Thursday afternoon race unfolding under perfect skies. The front row of the grid showed the mixture of riders that make Superstock fun to watch. On the pole was Ben Spies, last year's Superbike champion. Beside him was Geoff May, whose stellar rise from a privateer has earned him a spot on the M4 Emgo Suzuki team. Finishing out the front was Ben Bostrom, a former World Superbike rider who just moved to the Yamaha Superstock team.
As the light turned green, Spies took the hole shot into Daytona's Turn 1, with Bostrom and Aaron Yates in tow. Coming out of the International Horseshoe, Yates ran wide in Turn 3, but kept his bike upright and off-roaded back onto the track.
With Yates out of the way, May made his way to the front, testing Spies before passing on the fourth lap. Bostrom, taking advantage of their battle, moved into third, forming a lead pack that was separated by less than a second. Recovering nicely from his near disaster, Yates moved firmly into fourth. As the lead riders settled for the mid-race, Chris Ulrich and Danny Eslick diced for fifth position.
With the hot Daytona banking playing havoc on tires, Spies bided his time. With four laps to go, he made his move, drafting May off the bank for a pass into turn one.
"With the battle slowing their closest threats, Roger Lee and Hacking built a comfortable four second lead, their brand new ZX-6Rs looking smooth and effortlessly in command of the lead."
Bostrom moved with him, but May held the Yamaha rider off. With Bostrom stuck behind May, Spies began to pull away. Two laps later, Bostrom completed his pass, but Spies was untouchable, the trio crossing the finish line unchanged. Yates held onto fourth with Eslick besting Ulrich for fifth.
In the Supersport race, the pole sitter was last year's Supersport and Superstock champ Jaime Hacking, making his 2007 debut after having traded his blue tuning fork for the Kawasaki green of the Monster Energy team. Beside him on the front row were the Hayden brothers, Hacking's new teammate Roger Lee beside him with Tommy on his newly acquired American Suzuki in the third position. With the setting Florida sun throwing shadows over the start/finish straight, a roller derby crowd of 59 more riders assembled behind them. With the green light the riders left in two phases in a mad supercross scramble into the first turn. Michael Barnes took the early lead, Hacking and Roger Lee close behind, as Danny Eslick ended his race with a first turn low side.
In the first lap Hacking slipped by a charging Barnes, with Barnes taking back the lead a lap later. Finally submitting to the relentless pressure of the Monster Energy duo, Roger Lee Hayden pulled into the lead followed closely by Hacking. As the race reached the mid point, traffic from the 62 rider field became an issue. It took the Monster Energy pair several laps to build a solid lead on Barnes. As Roger Lee Hayden and Hacking pulled away, the races' true battle developed around the final spot on the podium. First it was Josh Hayes squeezing by, with Barnes quickly regaining third. Then it was Cory West who drafted into the lead, followed by Tommy Hayden, with Barnes still in the fight.
With the battle slowing their closest threats, Roger Lee and Hacking built a comfortable four second lead, their brand new ZX-6Rs looking smooth and effortlessly in command of the lead. With few laps remaining, Hacking began to look for the cracks in Roger Lee's riding. But the youngest Hayden brother was flawless. Hacking stayed close, narrowly avoiding disaster as the pair split a lapped rider. A slide by the defending champ on the final lap cemented Roger Lee Hayden's victory and with the pair finishing three tenths of a second apart at the checkered flag. Behind, the final podium position remained uncertain, Hayes temporarily regaining third, before Tommy Hayden scrapped his way back from seventh place. After West crashed out on lap 17, Tommy secured third, finishing 9 seconds behind the dominating Kawasaki team.
As the Florida sun sat on the Daytona International Speedway, the AMA roadracing season was underway. Once again, the machines and the riders who pilot them in the Supersport and Superstock series promise to please.
1. Ben Spies (Suzuki)
2. Ben Bostrom (Yamaha)
3. Geoff May (Suzuki)
4. Aaron Yates (Suzuki)
5. Danny Eslick (Suzuki)
6. Chris Ulrich (Suzuki)
7. Blake Young (Suzuki)
8. Scott Jensen (Suzuki)
9. Tristian Palmer (Suzuki)
10. John Haner (Suzuki)
1. Roger Lee Hayden (Kawasaki)
2. Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki)
3. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki)
4. Michael Barnes (Suzuki)
5. Josh Hayes (Honda)
6. Ben Attard (Kawasaki)
7. Steve Rapp (Kawasaki)
8. Chas Davies (Yamaha)
9. Geoff May (Suzuki)
10. Cory West (Yamaha)
Superbike Round 1
Nixon, Mann, Roberts and Spencer are all names that are legendary in American motorcycling and all have one thing in common. They've each won the Daytona 200. Over the years the venues and formats have changed, but one thing remains the same. From the earliest days of running on the Atlantic beach sands to the present day on the high paved banks, winning at Daytona is the defining moment in a rider's career.
This year's 200 -- Formula Extreme -- was no different. The buzz focused on Miguel Duhamel. Already a Daytona legend, Duhamel would once again try to break the record he shares with "Mr. Daytona" himself, Scott Russell, by grabbing a sixth Daytona 200 win.
As Saturday unfolded, an early blanket of fog burned off to reveal a spectacularly sunny day with a strong breeze coming off the ocean. The morning practice session gave the first clue that the race might bring something other than expected. At the end of the session it was Attack Kawasaki's Steve Rapp, a rider who qualified in ninth place, who was turning in the fastest laps.
But first it was the season opener of the AMA Superbike series, the much anticipated rematch of Yoshimura Suzuki teammates Matt Mladin and Ben Spies. On the pole was Spies, who had vowed to add a Superbike victory to complement his Thursday Superstock win. Beside him was his teammate and chief rival Mladin. Finishing off the front row was Eric Bostrom on Yamaha's new factory superbike effort and Roger Lee Hayden on the Monster Energy Kawasaki.
With the green light, it was Mladin out in front into turn one. From the start, crashes would keep the outcome of the race unpredictable. On the first lap Jaime Hacking and Geoff May tangled in the international horseshoe, with Hacking's bike also taking out Aaron Yates. The collision left Hacking out of commission, while Yates and May returned to the track. At the end of the first lap, it was Bostrom in the lead, with Spies and Mladin close behind. By lap four, Mladin was in control, but the six-time superbike champ led for just over a lap before low siding. Out of the lead, he managed to get his Suzuki back on the track. Next it was leader Roger Lee Hayden, last year's AMA Superbike Rookie of the Year, who high-sided in turn one and was out of the race. The havoc allowed for Spies to take the lead, with Bostrom and Duhamel trailing. After having been passed by Duhamel, Bostrom pitted with front tire problems with only three laps remaining. With a comfortable lead, it was Spies across the line first, followed by Duhamel and teammate Jake Zemke. Mladin clawed his way back to tenth to salvage championship points, but it was Spies who finished his first race of the season with maximum points from winning the pole, leading the most laps and winning the race.
Sixty riders filled the starting grid for the 66th Daytona 200. On the pole was Duhamel, who had squeezed out the fastest lap in the last seconds of Thursday's qualifying session. Beside him was Jason DiSalvo in a one-off Formula Extreme appearance, followed by defending series champ Josh Hayes and defending 200 winner Jake Zemke.
It was Hayes out front early before being drafted by Duhamel and Micheal Barnes, Barnes making his way into the lead. The three, along with Steve Rapp, Jason DiSalvo, Ben Attard and Chaz Davies formed the front pack, sometimes riding four wide through Daytona's banking. Their pace was so quick that they soon began to lap slower riders and run into traffic, Duhamel, Barnes and Hayes taking turns at leading.
"Then suddenly, on lap 21 Duhamel's hopes for a sixth victory evaporated like the fuel in his throttle bodies, as his Honda stuttered to a halt."
Moments later, defending 200 champ Jake Zemke was similarly stalled beside him. Later, Erion Honda's Aaron Gobert would succumb to similar problems. When Josh Hayes turned into the pit, his Honda coasted to his crew on fumes. Though it was initially thought the Honda riders pushed too far before pitting, later rumors blamed the problem on the fuel system itself. Either way, with three of the top Honda's out, you can pretty much be sure that someone at Honda R&D was cleaning out their desk on Monday morning.
After the first pit stop it was Rapp who had the advantage, moving himself into a lead that no one would shake for the remainder of the race. But the surprise of Rapp's dominance was matched by the performance of U.K. newcomer Chaz Davies. With no endurance racing experience, Davies hung with the front pack through the entire 200 miles, even leading at times, a rare three digit number plate at the top of America's most prestigious road race.
By the final 20 laps, it looked as if pit stops would determine the winners. It was Rapp out in front, leading his teammate by nearly 20 seconds, but facing the possibility of running out of fuel. Attard's delayed first pit would allow him to finish the race without stopping. In third was Hayes, strongly holding his position, but desperately needing gas.
With Rapp's fans and crew chief holding their breath, the Kawasaki rider refused to back down, never slowing his blistering pace, taking the checkered flag, and still having enough gas for a victory lap. Behind was teammate Ben Attard securing second. For Kawasaki, it was their first 200 win since Scott Russell rode a green machine to victory in 1995, and an impressive 1-2 podium. Defending series champ Hayes would finish in sixth, a final pit stop allowing three riders by him, Barnes who held off Davies for the final podium spot and DiSalvo.
And so ended the inaugural round of the AMA road racing season. For those who care about the machines in the dealer's showroom, the talk is about the Kawasaki ZX-6R and the Suzuki GSXR-1000. If riders are your interest, it's Ben Spies, who gave a thoroughly dominating performance in two events for a strong start to the season, or Steve Rapp a dark horse rider, in his first race with a new bike and new team, who stole the 200 show. Either way, for motorcycle fans it's an exciting outlook for 2007. And for one more time, the races at Daytona are quite unlike any others on the AMA calendar.
Daytona Superbike results1. Ben Spies (Suzuki)
2. Miguel Duhamel (Honda)
3. Jake Zemke (Honda)
4. Akira Yanagawa (Kawasaki)
5. Geoff May (Suzuki)
6. Jason DiSalvo (Yamaha)
7. Jake Holden (Suzuki)
8. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki)
9. James Ellison (Honda)
10. Mat Mladin (Suzuki)
Daytona 200 results
1. Steve Rapp (Kawasaki)
2. Ben Attard (Kawasaki)
3. Michael Barnes (Suzuki)
4. Chaz Davies (Yamaha)
5. Jason DiSalvo (Yamaha)
6. Josh Hayes (Honda)
7. Pascal Picotte (Suzuki)
8. Ryan Elleby (Honda)
9. Joshua Day (Yamaha)
10. Bostjan Pintar (Yamaha)