DAYTONA BEACH, FL, DEC. 20 – Daytona International Speedway has been transformed by a repaving, a number of riders said, after they spent a full morning getting used to the new tarmac.The two-day test had begun on Sunday, but a misty morning and cold afternoon temperatures limited the amount of seat time most riders put in. Today, with the sun shining and a chill in the air, everyone was out almost from the time the track opened at 9 a.m. straight through to the lunch break.Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing’s Larry Pegram was fastest at the noon stoppage, lapping the repaved banking, and repaved half of Turn 1, in 1:39.736. The time raised eyebrows, since Pegram’s next fastest lap was over 1.2 seconds slower and he was seen cutting the chicane a few times. But, he pointed out, that he only cut the chicane on his cooldown laps and he added that he’d done that time while chasing Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Blake Young, and a scan of the time sheet confirms it.Young finished his lap of 1:39.958 at 11:32.21.096 a.m., while Pegram completed his lap at 11:32.21.716 a.m.”The infield’s really not good because it’s dirty,” Pegram said. “Turn 1 [which was repaved to] right where you’re leaning in, and the exit onto the back straightaway it’s dirty. So the infield part is good other than those two spots. And the chicane [which has been slightly reconfigured with different curbing, which could allow for higher speeds onto the banking] is really slippery, the paint is really, really slippery. But the banking is a million percent better. It’s really nice now.”On the banking, which has been described and measured as being smooth as glass, “The bike doesn’t move around anymore. You can stay down in the bubble. You don’t get beat up. It’s way nicer.”Even when it was bumpy, riders still ran throttle from the chicane to Turn One.”You used to pin it all the way around and you used to be praying the whole time. Now you can pin it and you’re only praying about 70 percent of the time,” Pegram added.This is the fifth test for Pegram on the BMW S1000 RR, which is constantly evolving.”We have a little bit different spec engine in it, but it’s still pretty stock,” he said. “It’s more like a Superstock motor, basically, but it’s not completely stock. It’s a Stage 1 kit.”Behind Pegram and Young came Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes (1:40.052) and Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Tommy Hayden, the last of the four Superbikes at 1:40.585.The Daytona Sportbike clan was led by Graves Yamaha’s Josh Herrin, who ran a 1:43.582 lap at the end of the morning session. Next fastest was Vesrah Racing’s Cory West at 1:44.605, followed by Celtic Racing/Fast by Ferracci’s P.J. Jacobsen (1:44.835) and Benny Solis on the Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha at 1:45.053.The purpose of this invitation-only two-day test was to gather data on the tires that will be built for a more inclusive test in mid-January. The data gathered from that test will determine the final specification of the Daytona dual compounds. There was some concern that tire wear would be an issue with the new pavement, but early indications are that tire wear is minimal and that last year’s race tires, along with the development rubber, are holding up well.
Pegram Leads Daytona Tire Test
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.