Latus Motors Racing’s Jason DiSalvo became the first Ducati rider to win the prestigious Daytona 200, as well as the first privateer to win it since John Ashmead in 1989.
DiSalvo and his Ducati 848 EVO came out ahead in the lead group that included seven racers sprinting toward the finish on the final lap. DiSalvo crossed the finish line just 0.029 seconds ahead of Cory West and the Vesrah Suzuki GSX-R600. Project 1 Atlanta’s Jake Zemke finished third, just 0.154 seconds behind DiSalvo on a Yamaha YZF-R6. JD Beach finished fourth at 0.219 second back riding the Cycle World Attack Performance Kawasaki ZX-6R.
Josh Herrin, the 2010 Daytona 200 winner was fifth across the finish, just 0.364 seconds behind DiSalvo, on the Monster Energy Graves Yamaha R6. As the riders crossed the finish, Herrin made contact with M4 Suzuki’s Dane Westby, sending him crashing on the front straight. Vesrah Suzuki’s Taylor Knapp collided with Westby’s GSX-R600, and also took a hard spill.
The dramatic finish ended a shortened Daytona 200, reduced to 42 laps from the originally scheduled 57. The race was red-flagged after 27 laps after tire supplier Dunlop decided that tires were dangerously overheating. Several riders, most notably on Yamaha racebikes, experienced issues with overheated tires. With the knowledge that most teams planned to finish the rest of the race without changing tires, Dunlop requested a red flag for a mandatory tire change for safety reasons.
“The big concern was that we had a lot of knowledge about competitors’ race plans, and a substantial amount of the field was going to run one tire for the whole race,” says Mike Buckley, Dunlop vice-president of motorcycles. “We had no choice at that point but to stop the race, pull that specification from competition, and move to a counter-measure backup selection we had in the garage.”
Teams were allowed to refuel and work on their motorcycles during the two-hour delay to allow the replacement tires to warm up.
The red flag came at a perfect time for DiSalvo whose 848 began to experience engine problems. DiSalvo was about to pull out of the race when the red flag came out. With the extended delay, the Latus team was able to swap in the engine from the back-up bike and have DiSalvo ready in time for the restart.
“It’s really unbelievable after what the team went through today with everything with the engine,” says DiSalvo. “Those guys worked so hard, it was probably the biggest thrash in all of motorcycling history to get that bike put back together and ready to rock in time for the start. It’s just amazing. I’m almost a little bit speechless. As to how I feel about winning this race, I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I have to thank a couple of people, one is the AMA Pro officials for letting us restart the race. I know there was some question about it, and then we were given the go-ahead, so I want to thank them for that, and then of course my crew. It’s just unbelievable – I watched that bike go back together in 20 minutes.”
In other notable Daytona 200 action, Eric Bostrom withdrew early from the race with a mechanical problem on his Cycle World Attack Performance Kawasaki ZX-6R. Danny Eslick crashed his Richie Morris Racing GSX-R600 before the red flag.
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