Photography By: Andrea Wilson
Former Daytona 200 winner Jake Zemke will be on the grid for this year’s race after all – though it appears to be a one-race-only deal as a replacement for the injured Garrett Willis on the Desmo Veloce Ducati.
Willis suffered a broken scaphoid in his wrist last weekend at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway in Desert Center, California. The break required surgery and the bone was pinned yesterday, paving the way for team owner Richard Boyd to call in Zemke as a fill-in rider. Zemke rode for Boyd last season on a DucShop Racing Ducati, finishing seventh in the AMA Daytona SportBike Championship.
“The last thing any rider wants to do is replace someone that has been hurt,” Zemke said in a team release. “But we made a lot of progress with the Ducati last year and I think we have a really good chance to win at Daytona. I am happy to fill in for Garrett and I hope he heals quickly.”
Boyd said that Zemke was the obvious choice to replace Willis.
“Once we were certain that Garrett wasn’t going to be able to race, Garrett and I decided that Jake Zemke was the obvious choice to ride the bike in Daytona,” Boyd said. “This is not the way we wanted to start the season, but Garrett’s attitude has been very refreshing, and in a total professional way, he is driving the whole program forward.”
Obviously, Willis is disappointed to not make the 200.
“It’s a bummer to get injured, especially this close to Daytona and it is definitely not how we wanted to start this year, but we are looking forward,” he said. “I am hoping for a good recovery and excited to watch Jake do his thing.”
Zemke won the Daytona 200 in 2006.