Pirelli Wins Its First Daytona 200 With a Podium Sweep.
All Pirelli riders competing in the Daytona 200 qualified for the race on standard racing Diablo Superbike Slicks, rather than qualifying tires, possibly giving false hopes to the competition. For Daytona, Pirelli prepared itself with tri-compound tires to meet the unique needs of the super speedway. The compound varied for left cornering, the infield, and the banking, using the same technology as the Diablo Corsa III multi-compound street tires.
These three podium-finishing Pirelli riders, Rapp, Attard, and Barnes, battled from the start in a tight pack of six bikes at the front of the field until the first pit stops. Michael Barnes led the first lap of the race, after beating the factory Hondas back to the line. Rapp, Barnes, and Attard all took turns leading the race, giving up only 21 of its 68 laps to Pirelli's competition.
This is the first time a "non-factory" rider has won the Daytona 200 since 1989. But this time it was accomplished in a field with many factory riders, none of whom made it to the podium. Other Pirelli riders finishing in the top ten include Pascal Picotte and David Anthony, respectively finishing seventh and tenth, giving Pirelli five of the top ten places.
Daytona 200 winner Steve Rapp said, "I wouldn't want any other two racers up here with me. Ben's my teammate and Barney and I go way back. I knew the race tires were good. I knew the times I could do. The team knew but no one else knew because we qualified on the same tires we raced on. The competition might not have believed that but they probably do now. With one lap to go was I hoping I don't run out of gas. During a pit stop (team owner) Richard (Stanboli) had told me I came in too soon. So after that I was backing off on the banking to save fuel. I didn't believe I had it until I saw the tri-oval in front of me on the last lap.
"Maybe over the years I never had the right combination. I finally got on a good bike with a good team with good tires and some luck. We champed it out and made it. We did little to the bike all week. All we did was change tires during the race. We stuck to the harder tires and I knew I could run the pace I needed. The first twenty laps were tight with lots of drafting and late braking going on between a bunch of us. I saw Miguel (Duhamel) off the side of the track and knew he'd be the guy to try to run me down so that gave me a lot of room."
Second place finisher Ben Attard said, "Having Joey (Lombardi) as my crew chief and having a trainer has really made my riding come together. Winning would have been better but this is really good for the team. I can learn a lot from Steve. This track is a hard place to learn, you have to put your self in the right position. These Pirelli tires blow me away. They just keep gripping and gripping. The pit stops were so fast I couldn't even drink any water. I think? I don't even know what I think at the moment. Kawasaki makes great bikes, the '07 is unbelievable and with our crew it's a great combination. Steve and I are going to battle out this championship to the end."
Third place finisher Michael Barnes said, "It's exciting to see these tires coming this far in the few years I've been on them. The race started out with the pace being slow. Josh (Hayes) was being nice to his tire. I did the same, seeing who'd have the most, seeing if my crew gave me good pit stops. Towards the end I dug deep and upped my pace when I got a signal that we were battling for the podium. So I pushed hard. I had a couple of moments but it all worked out. My team did a great job."
In the Superbike race run earlier in the day, Pirelli-rider Geoff May took fifth place with his Suzuki GSX-R1000. The Team M4 EMGO Suzuki rider, May, did this at a horsepower track on a Superstock-spec bike with Pirelli Diablo Superbike Slicks, shocking the factory Superbike riders. It was an exciting race with former champion Mat Mladin and Aaron Yates both crashing and remounting to finish.
Pirelli's week at Daytona has resoundingly reaffirmed its commitment to racing in America and to every motorcycle enthusiast. From the Diablo Superbike slicks that just won the Daytona 200, to the all-new Diablo Corsa III dual-compound street tires available at your local Parts Unlimited dealer: We race what we sell, we sell what we race.
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