The top riders and manufacturers that utilize Dunlop tires finally got on track Friday mid-afternoon at DIS to kick off the first of three days of tire testing in preparation for the Feb. 29 – March 8 Daytona 200 Week By Honda, which is highlighted by the prestigious 67th Daytona 200 By Honda on Sunday, March 8.
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Among the riders in attendance for the test include Yoshimura Suzuki’s Ben Spies, Mat Mladin and Tommy Hayden, Jordan Suzuki’s Aaron Yates and Geoff May, American Honda’s Neil Hodgson, Erion Honda’s Josh Hayes and Jake Zemke and Yamaha’s Jason DiSalvo, Josh Herrin and Ben and Eric Bostrom and Kawasaki’s Roger Lee Hayden and Jamie Hacking.
For a couple of riders, the test serves as an opportunity to get more familiar with their new teams in advance of the 2008 season and Zemke – the 2006 Daytona 200 By Honda champion – is one of those riders.
The 31-year-old Zemke leaves American Honda to join Erion Honda for the 2008 season – a team that he rode for earlier in his career – and will compete for the championships in Supersport class and the Formula Xtreme class, which kicks off its season with the Daytona 200 By Honda.
The new team has Zemke pumped up about the upcoming AMA season.
“I’m actually really excited about this year,” Zemke said. “I’ve got two bikes, two different classes. We’re going to be really competitive in both. We’re shooting for the championship in both classes.”
While waiting out the rain during the lunch hour on Friday, Zemke said he was beginning to get “antsy” and was ready to get on track for the test.
“For me, I haven’t ridden a 600 Supersport bike since ’03,” Zemke said. “I’m really looking forward to getting out there and getting comfortable again on a Supersport bike and also getting on the Formula Xtreme bike and getting things dialed in for myself and get ready for the 200.”
For Zemke and all the riders, the three-day test is important in finding the right tire for the races in March at DIS as well as building chemistry with the team.
“You’re looking for the best of both
worlds,” Zemke said about the tire. “You want as much grip as you can have but it’s gotta last (for the Formula Xtreme bike) until your pit stop window which is usually around Lap 20-24. You got to have a tire that is going to give you as much grip as possible but also get you to your pit stop. Dunlop has done a great job over the years of giving us tires. Safety is their No. 1 issue and then they try to get us grip after that. They do a really good job at it.”
Dunlop motorcycle tire testing continues through Sunday at Daytona International Speedway is open to the public with free access to the Oldfield Grandstand through the lobby of The Daytona 500 Experience.
On Monday, Pirelli tire testing will kick off a two-day test. Among the riders expected to attend include 2007 Daytona 200 By Honda winner Steve Rapp, M4 EMGO Suzuki’s Chris Ulrich, Chaz Davies, former Superbike champion Doug Chandler and Brian Parriott
Tickets for Daytona 200 Week By Honda are available at http:///www.racetickets.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
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