Pirelli on the Gas at Daytona

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
From the good people at Pirelli
"Last year, I estimated we had about 25% of the Daytona Formula-USA and CCS field," said Pirelli's U.S. Race Manager Rich Munson. "This year I'd say we have close to 50%."

If Munson's assessment is right, Pirelli's greatly-increased presence must be at least partially responsible for the company's outstanding showing at the opening weekend of 2002 Formula-USA race action at Daytona International Speedway on February 28, March 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.

An informal count (not all of the entrants list their sponsors) of the races in which Pirelli tires compete showed Pirelli-sponsored racers accounting for at least 68 top-five finishes - including 18 race wins and four podium sweeps, one of the sweeps down to fifth place...

Amateur racer Nathan Kern, of Mt. Laurel, NJ, was a major force, putting the Pirelli Supercorsa on top of the box eight times. In Thursday's big 200-mile Engine Ice Team Challenge, he teamed with pro Michael Barnes to take the 56-lap race win on the KSU Consulting-sponsored Suzuki GSX-R600. He came back the next day, riding as a Team Hooters Suzuki GSX-R, to win both the Amateur GTU and Amateur Middleweight SuperSport finals.

Kern and his Pirelli-shod bikes collected three more wins on Saturday - in Amateur Unlimited GP, Middleweight Superbike, and Heavyweight Superbike - and two more on Sunday's final day, in Amateur Middleweight GP and 600 SuperSport. Not a bad weekend for a young racer who never even climbed on a streetbike until three years ago!

Leonard Santangelo, another Pirelli-mounted New Jersey amateur racer, was another Pirelli standout, collecting two wins, three thirds, and several top fives, dicing with Kern for the top spot in more than one of them.

Pirelli's pro and expert-class racers added to the tally. Michael Barnes captured three big wins: the Engine Ice 200, the rain-soaked Buell Lightning final, and Race Two of Sunday's Unlimited Superbike final; he also took second in Sunday's Sportbike final. Arclight Suzuki's Lee Acree, the current Formula-USA Sportbike champion, didn?'t have his best weekend, but still won in Expert Unlimited SuperSport, and took seconds in Expert Middleweight SuperSport and Unlimited Superbike Race One.

His Arclight teammate, Scott Harwell, won the Expert Unlimited GP final. Mike Himmelsbach and his Blackman's Racing Aprilia RSV1000R won Friday's Expert Heavyweight Superbike final, and David Yaakov aboard a Suzuki SV650 won Expert Lightweight SuperSport.

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