DAYTONA BEACH, FL, JAN 18 - The Daytona Dunlop tire test was a disaster on many counts and a near waste of time for many of the teams that spent several thousand dollars on diesel fuel to drive cross country for, at best, an hour-plus of track time.The test was originally scheduled for a day and a half, move in and set up on Monday morning and a full day on Tuesday. But rain washed out Monday and a damp track severely cut into Tuesday's track time. The first bikes didn't roll out until 12:30 p.m. when the Superbikes took to the 2.90-mile, single banking short course for their only uninterrupted one-hour session.The Daytona SportBikes were next, but they didn't make a clean hour. Their session was interrupted when it was discovered that they were riding on the wrong layout. The SportBikes were meant to be on the 3.55-mile, 12-turn traditional course that was too traditional. The riders were routed to the original International Horseshoe, which is now to be used only when exiting the pits and blending onto the track, not as a corner to be taken at speed. It took Graves Yamaha's Tommy Aquino to come in and alert his team and officials that they were on the wrong course.A miscommunication with corner workers caused the second layout snafu. Orange cones were placed in the infield dogleg left, shuttling riders to the short course.  But at least one rider sniffed this one out and blew through the cones to the second horseshoe. The cones were eventually moved.At 2:15 p.m. the track was again hit by a light rain during the Daytona SportBike session which soon picked up in intensity. The session was red-flagged and the track closed for an hour. At 3:30 p.m. the combined Daytona SportBike and SuperSport riders went out for half an hour, with the Harley-Davidson XR-1200's out for half a scheduled half hour at 4:05.Even before they took to the track the Harleys weren't getting any respect. Why the nine XR's would get their own session was questioned at the riders meeting. And there was some concern that the V-twin 1200s couldn't withstand the rigors of extended full throttle runs. Race director Dave McGrath explained that they couldn't be put in with the middleweights because of the speed disparity, but that it might be something they'd consider later in the day after the first sessions. The speed disparity was real. Celtic Racing/Fast by Ferracci's P.J. Jacobsen was the fastest Daytona SportBike with a time that was 18 seconds faster than Michael Barnes, the fastest of the Harley crowd.The worst fears of the skeptics became a reality when Matthew Heidel's XR-1200 spewed oil down the front straight, laying down an oil slick through the tri-oval all the way to turn one. The cause of the leakage wasn't immediately known. That came at around 4:15 and the track was closed for cleaning. It would be nearly 5:30 before the Superbikes went back out, and by then it was getting colder and darker. Many of the Superbike riders, including the top two, didn't go back out.In addition to the problems with the weather and the track lay-out, there were problems with timing and scoring. National Guard Jordan Suzuki's Roger Hayden was credited with the highest top speed of 202.77 mph in the first session, causing his brother Tommy, the Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider, with the seventh fastest time, to joke that he wanted one of Roger's engines. Hayden said he could live with being slower than Roger, but not Geoff May's Buell, which was fourth fastest at 196.63 and nearly 6 mph faster than Tommy Hayden's top speed of 190.85 mph. Roger Hayden's top speed was even higher, 204.85 mph, in the shortened late afternoon session, with May suddenly up to an impressive 202.87 mph. The teams relied on their own data acquisition units to get more accurate readings. The highest top speed recorded on Blake Young's Rockstar Makita Suzuki was 188.275 mph. Officially he was second fastest in the first session at 197.53 mph.Graves Yamaha's Josh Hayes was listed with the 10th fastest top speed, but the time that mattered was his final lap of 1:38.795., the fastest Superbike time of the day. Hayes went out in front of Tommy Hayden (pictured0 in the early going before falling behind. Once he got up to speed, his pace was unmatchable."I knew I couldn't get up to speed quite that fast," Hayes said, adding that he had to bed in brake disks. "Tommy (Hayden) had already kinda gotten out there a little ways away from me whenever I decided to get out rolling. But stayed out for a lap or two after him and then I came in and we switched bikes."Hayes did quite a few laps before coming in to debrief on the difference between the two bikes."By that time we had run through most of the session and they decided to put me back on the first bike and gave me a new rear tire and we went out with some new brake pads and had to run in some brake pads then for a couple more laps, because we beat up the first ones whenever we did those disks. So I spent two laps kinda breaking in those and getting them ready to go and kinda put my head down for two laps and they were two pretty good laps."

 

Three, in fact. Hayes began the string with a 1:39.943, then a 1:38.876, and finally a 1:38.795 that would stand up as the best of the day."Overall, the track's in better shape than when we were here for a test a month ago," Hayes said. "It definitely had some areas when we were here before where the two pavements came together, the old pavement and the new pavement for the infield, that were really dirty and we all kind of tiptoed through those areas. So we were able to ride through there a lot cleaner even with all the rain cleaning the rubber off the track. And you could see every line that we had ridden around the race track. The grip was really good and no issues."Hayes was one of the four Superbike riders to take part in a test here a month ago where front tire problems surfaced. Today the front was much better and the rear continued to show impressive durability."I haven't had an issue yet and we're going faster and have put more laps on it than we did at that previous test," Hayes, who had a total of 19 laps at speed, said.Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammates Tommy Hayden (1:39.074) and Blake Young (1:39.416) were second and third fastest. Hayden ran 22 laps, 14 at speed. His fastest came on his 14th lap overall. Young did one slow lap during the late afternoon. His fast lap was his last one in the first session.Eric Bostrom was listed as fourth on the Team Cycle World/Attack Kawasaki, though the time wasn't real. Bostrom admitted he blew the chicane to catch up to Hayden.P.J. Jacobsen (pictured) was one of the few Daytona SportBike riders who'd tested here a month earlier. The Celtic Racing/Fast by Ferracci rider had problems with his quick shifter at the outset and had to switch to his second Ducati 848 EVO. Jacobsen completed only eight laps at speed over the course of the session, which was interrupted by rain. The New Yorker increased his speed over his final three laps to record his best of 1:51.822 mph on his penultimate tour of the long course."We did pretty good today and (Eraldo) Ferracci and Barry (Gilsenan) were pretty happy with everything," he said. "We were here last time at the first test, so we got all our settings from that and we changed a couple of things and I had to memorize the track and we got everything figured out, so I was pretty happy being on top.""We got a good half an hour the second one, so I just basically took my time, built up my momentum and we were on top at the end, so I was pretty happy," he said, "but I didn't think we were going to be on top. We definitely did some good times."Second fastest on the Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha R6 was Jake Zemke, who won the award for best use of track time. Zemke completed a total of 12 laps, six of which were at speed. His best was a 1:51.987. Zemke got the call from team owner Perry Melneciuc only a week earlier. At the moment, the deal is for Daytona only.Jason DiSalvo rode the Latus Ducati to the third fastest time, half a second down on Zemke.

Superbike:

1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:38.795

2. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki) 1:39.074

3. Blake Young (Suzuki) 1:39.416

4. Eric Bostrom (Kawasaki) 1:39.930

5. Larry Pegram (BMW) 1:39.983

6. Ben Bostrom (Suzuki) 1:40.282

7. Roger Hayden (Suzuki) 1:40995

8. Martin Cardenas (Suzuki) 1:40.995

9. Chris Ulrich (Suzuki) 1:41.497

10. Geoff May (Buell) 1:42.139Daytona SportBike: 1. P.J. Jacobsen (Ducati) 1:51.822

2. Jake Zemke (Yamaha) 1:51.987

3. Jason DiSalvo (Ducati) 1:52.423

4. Danny Eslick (Suzuki) 1:52.423

5. Cory West (Suzuki) 1:53.989

6. Santiago Villa (Suzuki) 1:54.025

7. J.D. Beach (Kawasaki) 1:54.045

8. Dane Westby (Suzuki) 1:54.185

9. Paul Allison (Yamaha) 1:54.218

10. Taylor Knapp (Suzuki) 1:55.111

 

AMA Pro Racing Headlines

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.

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