Alanf’s blog…
Scattered thoughts

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Daytona (is) history…

Author: site admin
Category: AMA Superbikes

Since I left for Europe the morning after the big race day at Daytona, I didn’t get a chance to post anything on the blog about the Superbike race or the Daytona 200. They’ve been thoroughly covered on all the other sites but nonetheless I’ll say my piece…

First, the Superbike race picked up right where it left off last season with Mladin controlling the race from the first lap to the checkered flag. In the past, Suzuki has had to work fast to get their GSXR ready for the race season due to domestic test sessions being washed out by rain. Suzuki took the first step three years ago by sending the US Yoshimura squad over to Malaysia early in the year to get in some setup time before the first race. This season they went one better by heading over to southern Asia immediately after the last race of 2004’s champagne went flat. The affect has to be demoralizing for the other teams since Mladin showed up at Daytona after heading all the pre-season tests and showing dominating form from the first lap of practice. Everyone else’s best efforts were still nearly a second a lap slower than Mat. That’s a harsh start to the season for the other racers.

Neil surfing in Florida

Every other story from the Superbike race is a bit of a stretch to make sound interesting.. The closest story worthy of some bits and bytes was Neil Hodgson’s performance. The ex-World Superbike champ learned the tricky Daytona track faster than I’m sure anyone expected and was clearly the second best person on the track. His performance highlighted one other issue, that being just how bad his teammate Eric Bostrom is struggling with the odd handling Duc. Neil was faster than Eric from the first lap, despite EBoz being a past Daytona pole sitter and having the previous year’s experience on the bike. If Eric doesn’t get something figured out soon, his stock back in Bologna will drop faster than an Italian bike manufacturer can go bankrupt. Neil, on the other hand, is showing that the Ducati 999 isn’t a complete dog which is perhaps the best the red bikes can hope for based on the thumping Mladin seems ready to hand out.

Mladin’s teammates Yates and Spies showed that the GSXRs may well sweep many races this season by consistently setting fast laps in Superbike. Continuing this trend, the customer Suzukis from Team Jordan and Team M4 finished top 10 as well. The Hondas, meanwhile, showed that they should probably have done some time Malaysia this winter since they are way behind compared to their historical trend of heading the speed gun measurements at Daytona. Their decision to bring Superbike development in house may pay rewards in the future but they have to make some huge strides before the second race at the end of April if they are gonna have a chance of slowing Maldin’s march to a sixth title or stop Suzuki from ruling the podium all season.

So with that bleak outlook off my chest, how about a review of the Daytona 200? Well, I’m afraid the news there isn’t much better as it was even more predictable than the Superbike race. As expected, all three podium spots were filled with the Hondas. Duhamel was the commanding winner with Roberts and Zemke completing the rostrum. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that the forth Honda of Alex Gobert was outside the top ten. The only interesting part of the Daytona 200 was watching the three youngsters of Eslick, Peris and Perez go through their trials of Daytona 200 crashes and pit stop fiascoes to card respectable finishes. Like in years past, the Daytona 200 was an interesting race up until the first pit stops, then changes in pit strategy and problems lapping slower riders strung the field out. Roberts and Duhamel actually put on an entertaining show for the first 10 or so laps. Nonetheless, Duhamel does deserve credit for putting a fifth Daytona 200 trophy on his mantle despite the criticism raised by others. No matter how much people try to downplay his achievement, winning the 200 is a trial of man and machine as much as a competition against other racers. Being able to race hard for two hours is reason enough to garner respect.

In my opinion, Saturday at Daytona lived up to expectations but that is only because the results were generally predictable and the expectations rather low. The classes were still confusing and not having all the factories competing in a single class just amplified that. Thankfully, also as predicted, there weren’t the tire problems that the past years have demonstrated so now its a matter of putting the excitement back into the premier class (or classes). Otherwise, the “support” classes will gain more popularity since both of those races were exciting and unpredictable. Lets hope the AMA Superbike and F-X seasons turns out to hold some big surprises…

Finally, I wanted to at least acknowledge that I’ve been pretty monotonous in using photos of guys doing big burn-outs in my blog entries. As penance I’ll say ten hail Rossis and try to find some different cool photos for future write-ups.

[image from Tim Huntington’s Web Page.]