DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Daytona International Speedway’s famous grass tri-oval has been transformed into a challenging Supercross course for this Saturday’s 41st annual Daytona Supercross By Honda.
On Friday, some of the riders particiapting in the Daytona Supercross By Honda gave media a sneak peek of the course, which is designed by five-time Daytona Supercross champion Ricky Carmichael for the fifth straight year.
Among the riders shaking down their bikes on a portion of the course included Justin Brayton, Cole Seely, Justin Barcia, Justin Bogle, Myles and Dakota Tedder and Carmichael, who will ride in pre-race ceremonies and participate in the SPEED Channel broadcast of the race.
Carmichael, who lives in Tallahassee, retired from Supercross in 2007 as the most decorated rider in history with 15 AMA championships and 150 wins.
This year’s Ricky Carmichael Signature Design course is 3,200 feet in length and will draw some parallels to last year’s layout with the placement of the starting gate remaining on pit road and providing fans with a great view of the first turn. It will also feature slight changes in the course’s configuration, particularly in the corners.
“It’s fun to sit down at the drawing board and to think of a design that will be fun and challenging for the riders, as well as exciting for the fans and for the people watching on television,” Carmichael said.
Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto will be aiming for his third consecutive Daytona Supercross victory this weekend.
Villopoto, from Poulsbo, Wash., had a breakout year in 2011 claiming his first AMA Supercross championship. He has continued his hot streak this season winning five of the first nine AMA Supercross events and has a 13-point lead over KTM rider Ryan Dungey in the championship standings entering this weekend’s race.
Dungey will sit out the Daytona Supercross after undergoing surgery this week to repair a broken collarbone. Dungey suffered what was initially diagnosed to be a cracked collarbone while practicing at his training facility in Florida prior to last week’s St. Louis Supercross.
Dungey managed to finish runner-up at the St. Louis Supercross but after further evaluation by Duney’s doctor found his collarbone to be broken.
Other top contenders vying for a victory in the Daytona Supercross will be Haines City’s James Stewart and Honda’s Kevin Windham and Brayton.
“Daytona is as unique as it gets," said Windham, who won the Daytona Supercross in 2008. “I've been fortunate enough to win there. It was a mud race and one of the toughest races of my life, but we got the ‘W.’
“It's always one of the toughest races of your life. The track is nasty, it's ever-changing and the laps are a lot longer than a regular Supercross race. It beats you up pretty bad.”
Practice on Saturday begins at 12:30 p.m. Opening ceremonies are set for 7 p.m. with heat races, last chance qualifying races and main events to follow.