(Dec. 7, 2008) – The three-day AMA Pro Racing Dunlop tire test in preparation for Daytona 200 Week By Honda wrapped up on Sunday at historic Daytona International Speedway.
The Daytona SportBikes and American Superbike riders have been touring both the 3.51- and 2.9-mile road courses at "The World Center of Racing" for the past three days testing Dunlop tires and the Musco lights in preparation for the upcoming Daytona 200 Week By Honda on Feb. 27 - March 7.
Among the riders in attendance included Yamaha's Ben Bostrom and Josh Hayes, Erion Honda's Jake Zemke, American Honda's Neil Hodgson, Richie Morris Racing’s Michael Barnes and Roadracingworld.com's Chris Ulrich.
For the first two days of the test, there were both day and night sessions while Sunday featured only daytime testing.
For the first time in event history, the
prestigious season-opening Daytona 200 By Honda Daytona SportBike race will be held under the lights on Friday, March 6 with the Daytona Supercross By Honda moving to Saturday night, March 7. This weekend's testing sessions have been extremely valuable to the Daytona SportBike riders who were running the lights at DIS for the first time.
After night testing, Bostrom, the 2008 AMA Supersport champion, was really pumped up about running the Daytona 200 By Honda under the lights.
“It was really fun at night,” Bostrom said. “The bike seems to run good on the crisp air, which is kind of cool. More than that, you get a special feeling under the lights, you feel more like a rock concert . . . like big time. It enthused me.”
After taking a dinner break on the first day of tire testing on Friday, Bostrom came back to DIS for the first night testing session and found the 3.51-mile course lit up.
“When I pulled back in with the place all lit up and grand looking, I just got this rush like I couldn’t wait to get on my bike and get out there,” Bostrom said. “It felt like a big-time race and I know it’s just testing. It was beautiful.”
Ulrich, who rides the No. 18 Roadracingworld.com Suzuki in American Superbike, won’t be racing in the Daytona 200 By Honda under the lights, but says riding at night is a great move for fans of motorcycle racing at DIS.
“I think it’s going to be a good spectacle,” Ulrich said. “During the day, there’s so much other stuff going on around Daytona during Bike Week. Some people have to work and some people have to do some other things. I think having it at night adds that extra bit (of excitement). What else are you going to do at night, site around and watch sitcoms? I think bring the party into the speedway, have a bunch of people around and watch some fast motorcycles go around at night. It’s going to be a neat thing to see.”
Many of the riders who attended the test stressed how important the track time under the lights has been for them in learning Daytona after dark.
“I’m really, really grateful,” Bostrom said. “It gave us a chance to evaluate the track. There were a couple of dark spots out here and there and we gave the feedback to the guys that actually move the lights around and turn them up and down. Even the second day there was still issues. Now, we should have that nailed by the time we come back. That helped them and us for safety issues.
“But also, your first couple of laps at night, the track has a real (shine) to it when you see it. It looks slippery. You have to get that out of your head. It gave all the riders a chance to realize it’s the same track, it’s just dark. It looks slippery but it’s not.”