On the 40th anniversary of Yamaha’s first win in the Daytona 200, they did it again. And, just as improbable as it was in 1972 that Don Emde could beat the 750cc four-strokes on his Yamaha TZ350 two-stroke, this win was almost as shocking.
In only his third Daytona SportBike race, shaggy-headed California teenager Joey Pascarella outrode a number of veterans on the underfunded and unbadged Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha R6 to a narrow victory in a race that ran flawlessly from start-to-finish. That there was no drama, except what played out among the riders, was a relief to Dunlop, whose front tires overheated in last year’s 200, forcing the race to be stopped, as well as everyone else. The lone exception might have been Jason DiSalvo. DiSalvo took advantage of the more than two-hour delay last year to change motors in his Latus Motors Racing Ducati 848. Then he went out and won the final 15-lap sprint, giving Ducati their first win.
This year DiSalvo swapped his Ducati for a Triumph 675 Daytona that was painted to resemble the Triumph that Gary Nixon rode to the British firm’s last win in the Daytona 200 back in 1967. DiSalvo completed his tribute to the two-time Grand National Champion with Nixon replica riding gear, leathers and helmet And he came desperately close to channeling the Nixon magic to victory. In the most inspired ride of the day, DiSalvo recovered from an early and unnecessary pit stop to close with a furious rush. He caught the lead trio on the last of the 57 laps, and made a mad dash to the flag, only to get beaten by a scant .048 of a second.
Cameron Beaubier finished third in his first ride on the factory Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha R6, giving Yamaha two spots on the podium.
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