Motorcycle teams turn their first laps on new racing surface

Josh Herrin and Josh Hayes

Josh Herrin (8) and Josh Hayes work their way through the road course.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – With NASCAR, GRAND-AM and ARCA completing tire tests last week, motorcycles took their turn on the high banks of the newly repaved Daytona International Speedway on Sunday and Monday for their first laps on the new racing surface.

Select teams and riders from SuperBike and Daytona SportBike classes of AMA Pro Racing participated in a two-day Dunlop tire test in advance of March’s Daytona 200 Week, which is highlighted by the 70th Daytona 200 AMA Pro Racing Daytona SportBike event and the opening rounds to the AMA SuperBike season.

For only the second time in its history, Daytona International Speedway’s 2.5-mile tri-oval, pit road, skid pad and apron was repaved following the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola in July.

Among the riders shaking down the new racing surface included:

• Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes and Josh Herrin

• Yoshimura Suzuki’s Tommy Hayden and Blake Young

• Pegram Racing’s Larry Pegram

• Vesrah Suzuki’s Cory West

• Celtic Racing’s P.J. Jacobsen

“The race track has done a fantastic job with the paving job and Dunlop has done a real good job showing up with tires that are safe,” said Hayes, the 2010 AMA Pro SuperBike champion. “We are all going around the race track having fun and have nothing but good things to say so far. I’m looking forward to coming back in January (to test) and then coming back and racing in March.”

Hayes was impressed with the smoothness of the track during the test, which was staged on the 2.95-mile road course.

“Quite honestly, it’s so smooth that it’s kind of changed the game plan,” Hayes said. “Honestly the track feels smaller to me. It feels like it’s about  80 percent of the size that it use to be because we get around there a little bit quicker, a little bit smoother and a little more time to relax. I’m sure for the guys riding in the Daytona 200 on the 600s, it’s going to be a whole lot better.”

“It’s nice and smooth,” said Herrin, the 2010 Daytona 200 champion. “It’s easy to see now. There’s no bumps and it’s going to be make the 200 miles a lot easier up on the banking not being so bumpy. The chest isn’t sore today. It’s usually sore from all the bumps but it’s been really good.”

For Herrin, the tire test was his first time coming back to Daytona since becoming one of the youngest champions of the prestigious Daytona 200 last March.

“I know it’s something a lot of people always want to achieve,” Herrin said of winning the Daytona 200. “For me to do it so young, it’s nice to get it out of the way. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. The all the press that we have gotten from it has been really great for the whole Graves Yamaha team. It’s been nice to be called the Daytona 200 champion for the past year and hopefully we can be called for that for the year to come.”

Hayden has been turning laps around Daytona since the late 1990s and was also pleased on the changes throughout the superspeedway portion of the track.

“It’s definitely different,” Hayden said. “It’s way smoother, the bike moves around a lot less and it has a lot more grip.”

Motorcycles will return to DIS next month on Jan. 17-18 for another Dunlop tire test. Daytona 200 Week will kick off with the Daytona Supercross By Honda on Saturday, March 5 and conclude the following weekend with the Daytona 200 on Saturday, March 12.

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