DAYTONA BEACH, FL, MARCH 15 - The fact that Jason DiSalvo led the first session of Daytona SportBike at Daytona wasn't a surprise. The fact that he and his Latus Motors Triumph 675 led it by over a second was. DiSalvo, the defending Daytona 200 Champion, posted a 1:50.499 on the 3.51-mile long course at Daytona International Speedway to lead Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha's Cameron Beaubier by 1.075. And for most of the session the gap was bigger than that as Beaubier did his best lap late. Prior to that, DiSalvo was some two seconds clear of the field.
Third place in the opening session went to GEICO Suzuki's Martin Cardenas, the Colombian ending up 1.8 seconds behind DiSalvo. Project 1 Atlanta's Joey Pascaralla was fourth best with M4 Broaster Chicken's Dane Westby fifth.
Jason DiSalvo had the Gary Nixon mo-jo working on Thursday at the Speedway.
If he were to win the Daytona 200 on Saturday, DiSalvo would be the first Triumph rider to win the Daytona 200 in 45 years. Fittingly, the winner that year was the late Gary Nixon and DiSalvo's leathers and bike are done up as replicas to Nixon's Triumph. The last British bike to win the 200 was a BSA ridden to victory in the 200 in 1971 by Dick Mann.
The session was red flagged twice. Once when Huntley Nash crashed; the other when rookie Garrett Gerloff (Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha) crashed. Practicing for his first Daytona 200, the 16-year-old broke his right femur when he crashed in turn one. Gerloff was taken from the track to Halifax Medical Center for further treatment.
Daytona SportBike Practice:
1. Jason DiSalvo (Triumph) 1:50.499
2. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha) 1:51.574
3. Martin Cardenas (Suzuki) 1:52.336
4. Joey Pascarella (Yamaha) 1:52.625
5. Dane Westby (Suzuki) 1:52.740
6. Barrett Long (Ducati) 1:53.035
7. Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha) 1:53.041
8. Jake Zemke (Ducati) 1:53.055
9. Tommy Aquino (Yamaha) 1:53.175
10. Fernando Amantini (Kawasaki) 1:53.245