Ferracci and Celtic Get Ready for Daytona

Henny Ray Abrams | March 5, 2011

Eraldo Ferracci and Doug Polen were an unstoppable Superbike force in the early 90’s.Together they won two World Superbike and one AMA Superbike Championship with a dominance that was impressive. But neither they were never able to win the Daytona 200,  nor has any other Ducati team been able to do it. The closest Ferracci and Polen came was in 1992, when Muzzy Kawasaki’s Scott Russell drafted past the faster Ducati to win the first of his five Superbike 200s by .182 secs.When Polen left the team, after winning the 1993 AMA crown, he was replaced by Australian Troy Corser, who won five races and beat Jamie James for the AMA title by a single point. Freddie Spencer won a single race for the team in 1995 and Italian Alessandro Gramigni won two races in 1996. Mat Mladin came over for the 1997 campaign, winning the season-opener, though not at Daytona; it was held in Phoenix, Arizona. Mladin won three more times, but finished the season third to Doug Chandler. Then he returned to the Yoshimura Suzuki team to craft the greatest career in the history of AMA Superbike racing.Ferracci continued to race in the Superbike class through 1999, when riders Larry Pegram and Matt Wait finished ninth and tenth, respectively, in the  200. By the time Ferracci returned to AMA Superbike racing in 2007, with Italian Luca Scassa and Matt Lynn racing overmatched FBF MV Agustas, the 200 was three years removed from its days as a Superbike race.Now Ferracci is back in AMA racing full-time with his best chance in over a decade to give himself and Ducati their first Daytona 200 win. Given the depth of the field, and the fact that the best riders are in the Superbike class, winning the 200 won’t be the same. But it would still be a feather in the cap for Ferracci, who once ruled the road.New Yorker P.J. Jacobsen will race the Celtic Racing/FBF Ducati 848EVO in the 2011 Daytona SportBike Championship. Jacobsen rode a Celtic Racing Suzuki GSX-R600 to tenth in the last year’s DSB series, getting stronger late in the year when his best two best finishes came in a span of three races. First came a fourth in the second race at Virginia International Raceway. Then came his best ride of the year when he finished fourth, but on the same second as race winner Danny Eslick (Suzuki), at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Jacobsen also earned his first AMA pro road race win in the Vance & Hines XR1200 race in New Jersey. When the RMR Bruce Rossmeyer Daytona Racing XR1200 of winner Jake Holden was disqualified for electronics tampering, second place finisher Jacobsen was awarded the win.Over the winter the Celtic Racing team swapped the Suzuki for a Ducati, which Jacobsen put to good use from the start. On a very early version of the 848EVO, Jacobsen was the fastest rider in January’s truncated second Daytona Dunlop tire test. Jacobsen’s next seat time will come at JenningsGP near the Florida-Georgia border for a final shakedown test before Daytona race week starts on Thursday, March 10.”Things are coming together nicely,” Celtic Racing’s Barry Gilsenan said. “We are in those last final days when it’s crunch time, and you have to put in some late nights. Ferracci is finishing up the bikes, our brand new team hauler has just been wrapped and pulled out on Friday. We can’t wait to get things going.”Ferracci knows that the 200 can be won or lost in the pits, so he built a pit wall replica at his shop in Willow Grove, Pa., just north of Philadelphia, where the team has been practicing pit stops.”With PJ, I feel that we have a good shot at doing very well, and maybe, you know, we can finally beat that Daytona curse that has always plagued Ducati,” Ferracci said. “The bikes are very good, and with our top lap times at the Daytona tire test, we are feeling very good about our chances.”Also, you know, this kid PJ is a little under the radar; I think we are gonna surprise a few people.”Besides Jacobsen, the team will field veteran club racer Brad Graham, a multi time CCS Florida regional champion.


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.