Peris Gets His First

Henny Ray Abrams | June 6, 2009

Less than a day after having his times disqualified and being forced to re-qualifying, Erion Honda’s Chris Peris overcame atrocious conditions and two pace cars to take his first AMA professional win with a crushing victory in the Daytona Sportbike race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.”Chris (Peris) is awesome, I’m proud of him, his first national win,” team owner Kevin Erion said. “Good to give him that on the red bike. I know him and his dad have been crisscrossing the country trying to get that.”Peris and teammate Jake Zemke, third and first respectively in Superpole, had those times nullified when AMA tech inspectors found their fuel to be illegal. They made the field by qualifying again on Saturday morning. Zemke was fastest and Peris was third, as they’d been a day earlier.Asked if he was surprised, Erion said, “All I can say is that in the morning qualifying Jake was P-1 and Chris was P-3 , so whatever we had yesterday wasn’t so magical.”Following Saturday’s Superpole, the team’s Sunoco race fuel was found to be out of compliance with AMA specs. Erion didn’t dispute the findings, but was hopeful his distributor in southern California could shed some light on it.”We had the exact same thing we had yesterday as today,” except for the fuel, which they had to buy on-site. “We had the Sunoco fuel that they told us we have to buy.”Peris was a rain wizard, lapping three-plus seconds a lap faster than the rest of the field. The first safety car, at the end of the second lap, didn’t make too great an impact. But the second one, which came on the ninth lap when the rain was falling considerably harder, did. Peris had over a 17 second lead ending the eighth lap, which vanished with the second coming of the safety car.The field was released ending the 11th lap, making the race a two-lap sprint. Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki’s Roger Lee Hayden passed Peris, but Peris quickly got him back and took the white flag with more than two seconds in hand. He would add five more to beat Hayden by 7.556 secs. at the end of the 13-lap race. M4 Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas, who came to Road America riding a four-race win streak, was less than a tenth of a second back in third.

“I couldn’t be happier,” a soaked and beaming Peris said. “The team just worked really hard and it was good to get to finally put it on top of the box for them.”Peris said he “kind of bummed to lose the two laps” early on when he was running second to Latus Motors Racing’s Taylor Knapp, “because we had a pretty decent gap on the people behind us, so I was hoping to take off from there.” Once clear of Knapp, “it all seemed fairly easy and smooth, just kind of kept running a decent pace and I could keep seeing the gap getting bigger and bigger and was feeling pretty comfortable and then when I saw the second pace car come out, I was like, ah man, just lost the 20 seconds that I had and I knew it was going to be two laps once the pace car pulled in and it got really, really wet and slippery. So it was going to be conditions we hadn’t ridden in yet.”Part of it was pretty stressful, kind of seeing what was going to happen. And when Rog (Hayden) came by me, I was like, ah man, I gotta really put my head down now, because after leading that long it would’ve been a shame to lose it, so I mean I tried to get by him as early as I could and pulled away and was able to pull it off.”Peris also said that the victory erased the stain of the disqualification.”It was kind of a shame there was the fuel discrepancy there,” he said. “I mean it is what it is. It was totally unintentional and it kind of sucked to lose our starting position for sure. This kind of makes up for it. It was a little more work coming from the back.”It all worked out, I guess, in the end. I mean at least we got to show that, I think Jake (Zemke) was first in practice, I think I was third again, so it was pretty much as it was in qualifying after everything. We’d switched everything back over. It really made no difference. It was good to be able to go out and show that.”Daytona Sportbike:

1. Chris Peris (Honda)

2. Roger Lee Hayden (Kawasaki)

3. Martin Cardenas (Suzuki)

4. Taylor Knapp (Buell)

5. Damian Cudlin (Yamaha)

6. Danny Eslick (Buell)

7. Shawn Higbee (Buell)

8. Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki)

9. Michael Barnes (Buell)

10. Fernando Amantini (Yamaha)

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.