Photography by Larry Lawrence
DAYTONA BEACH, FL, MARCH 13 - This year’s Daytona 200 will be a homecoming of sorts for Danny Eslick as the two-time AMA Daytona SportBike Champion returns to the class on a Riders Discount Triumph after spending the past two seasons in AMA Superbike.
“I’m looking forward to getting back in SportBike,” Eslick said, prior to setting the third fastest time in this morning’s first practice session for the SportBike class. “I think the little bit that I’ve gotten to ride it [the Triumph] so far, it’s proven to be a really good motorcycle. I think I’ve proven I can ride a couple of different motorcycles, so just getting back out there and getting used to riding with six, seven, eight guys close to lead pack. It’s a little bit different strategy to what we had in Superbikes, so I’m just looking forward to some awesome racing and getting back out there and representing these Triumph guys. It’s stacked – just like the last time I rode it in 2011. There are a lot of great riders, good teams. I’m just looking forward to getting out there and getting on the podium and maybe that 200 win.”
The Daytona 200 is a big lure to Eslick, the Oklahoman finishing fourth in his 200 debut in 2005.
“It’s awesome,” Eslick said of getting the chance to race in the 200 again. “My best finish in the 200 was my very first one – a long time ago. I got fourth behind the factory Hondas. I would like to get out there and get on the podium at worst, but I’d really like to go win the 200. That’s one on my list that I’d like to put a check mark next to.”
Eslick tested the Triumph twice during the off-season and says he’s already comfortable with the 675.
“Been on the bike a few times,” he said. “Rode the bike at Chuckwalla and then a little shakedown test at Jennings. I have very limited time on the bike, but it’s another motorcycle – it’s got two wheels, brakes and a throttle so we should be fine.”
So what is it with the Daytona SportBike class that suits Eslick more than the Superbike class – where he finished fifth and eighth in the title chase in his two years there?
“I think a big bike suits my style, but it’s just a matter of finding the right combination that works for me and getting comfortable,” he said. “I rode the SportBike for a long time and I think being back on Ohlins suspension is a good thing for me. If you don’t have feel, you don’t have anything so being back on Ohlins is going to be a bit help for me.”
There’s one thing that Eslick seems certain of when it comes to the Triumphs...
“I don’t think there’s going to be a horsepower problem…”