DAYTONA BEACH, FL, MAR. 3 - The Superbikes took to the high banks of Daytona International Speedway for the first time today on a cold and sunny day in Florida with Foremost Ducati Larry Pegram leading a tightly-knit group at the top of the time sheets.A host of riders took a turn at the top of the first practice, but Pegram's name was there at the end of the 30-minute session, the Ohioan on his Ducati 1198R lapping at 1:40.280 - 2.7 seconds off Mat Mladin's Superpole time from last year, the first season with the new Superbike rules and Dunlop spec tires."I did a 38.2 in the race, so the track is definitely off right now," Pegram said after putting in his quick lap. "I'm not sure if it's the temperature or the hard rain with the sand. There's no grip out there. We had rain and 30-40 mph winds for two days so it just blows sand across everything. There's no grip, but it might just be because it's cold."As always, setting up your bike at Daytona is a compromise. And Pegram says his Ducati is a work in progress in getting it ready for Thursday's first of two American Superbike races."You come here and you want to try a bunch of stuff, but there's a banking so you can't," Pegram said. "This would be the one racetrack in the world where active suspension would be the ultimate. You need suspension for the banking and then you need suspension for a flat, no-grip infield. You need a super-soft bike for the infield and a super-hard bike for the banking, so you have to make a compromise. You have to decide if you're going to be spinning in the infield and work on the banking or not work on the banking and have grip in the infield. Even though it's one of the most non-technical racetracks to ride, it's probably the most technical racetrack to set a bike up for. No matter what you do, the tires are so hard it still feels like you are spinning everywhere. It's definitely... when you've got the ultimate setup here, it's still not really good. The tracks are so different. It's the first race and we were quickest in the first session, so I'm really happy about that."Pegram is also happy with what he considers a deep and talented field of Superbike racers."If you look at the level of the guys we have out there, we have everyone back except for Mat [Mladin] and we've added [John] Hopkins and [Jake] Zemke so I think we're going to have some good racing," Pegram said.Graves Motorsports Yamaha's Josh Hayes ended the session second, .161 of a second behind Pegram. Then came the first of the Suzukis with Rockstar/Makita's Blake Young besting the Clark Motorsports Yamaha of Ben Bostrom,  with the top four covered by less than a second.Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Tommy Hayden ended up fifth, some four-tenths quicker than Michael Jordan Motorsports' Aaron Yates. Team M4 Monster Suzuki's Chris Ulrich and John Hopkins, National Guard Suzuki's Jake Zemke and young Canadian Brett McCormick rounded out the top 10 in the opening session.

Wednesday Practice

1.                  Larry Pegram (Ducati) 1:40.280

2.                  Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:40.441

3.                  Blake Young (Suzuki) 1:40.831

4.                  Ben Bostrom (Yamaha) 1:41.017

5.                  Tommy Hayden (Suzuki) 1:41.459

6.                  Aaron Yates (Suzuki) 1:41.978

7.                  Chris Ulrich (Suzuki) 1:42.141

8.                  John Hopkins (Suzuki) 1:42.156

9.                  Jake Zemke (Suzuki) 1:42.225

10.                  Brett McCormick (Suzuki) 1:42.403

AMA Pro Racing Headlines

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.

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