Duhamel To Daytona On A Suzuki

Paul Carruthers | February 10, 2009

Duhamel and Daytona. Daytona and Duhamel. It’s a pairing that will be forever linked. Fortunately for his large legion of fans, Miguel Duhamel and his five Daytona 200 victories will again be on hand at Daytona International Speedway in March as he was saved by an 11th hour ride put together by old friend and rival Pascal Picotte that will see the five-time Daytona 200 winner on a Blackfoot/Picotte Motorsports Suzuki GSX-R600 for the big race.With Daytona looming on the horizon, many believed that Duhamel’s racing days were numbered. With American Honda pulling out of racing for the 2009 season, Duhamel didn’t have a ride. And it didn’t look like he’d be getting one anytime soon.“This whole off season here has been kind of strange, to say the least,” Duhamel said today from his home in Las Vegas, Nevada. “It’s not gone the way I’d like it to, but we got this ride and I think we have a good shot.”The ride was put together by Duhamel, his manager Alan Labrosse and former AMA and Canadian Superbike racer Pascal Picotte. The one-man team will feature Duhamel and for now it’s a Daytona-only deal. “I’ve been working on it for a little while,” Duhamel said. “I didn’t want to sit out Daytona this year with it being a night race and all. I think I can do quite well there. It’s just one of those things that we were kicking around and this thing came about. I figured, why not? We’re going back to our roots, I guess you could say. Also I think this year with the rules and everything, maybe not everybody will be as totally prepared as they should so if there’s ever a time when we could give this thing a shot, I think it’s this year.”Duhamel’s first foray at Daytona was with Suzuki, the French Canadian getting a 600cc Supersport ride with Yoshimura. He ended up ninth in the race, one spot behind his teammate Jamie James. A year later he was a factory Superbike rider with Yosh, winning his first AMA Superbike National at Topeka Park in Kansas. But it didn’t lead to a factory ride the following year with Suzuki.“In 1990 I did the whole season with them [Yoshimura] and got a win and had a good season, but that didn’t lead to nothing until ’91,” Duhamel said. “Then I filled in for Randy Renfrow [on the Martin Adams-owned factory Honda] when he got injured at Willow Springs and it just went from there.”Duhamel won the 200 in 1991 on Renfrow’s bike and it started a career-long association with Honda. But it’s back to the future now with Duhamel set to climb aboard a Suzuki again for the Friday night race.As for the opportunity to ride the bike prior to the race, Duhamel says with a laugh – “Nah…  the first practice will be the first time I ride it. In ’91 that’s how I did it and ’99 as well. So hopefully it won’t be too much of a problem.”The ever-positive Duhamel is itching to get to Florida.“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “It’s a strange time for me. I looked on the Internet this morning and looked at some pictures of the Fontana test and I saw some guys riding and I don’t even know who the hell they are: ‘Okay, who is this guy?’ Hopefully, we will be able to do something down there.“Pascal is the team manager and he’s excited about the whole thing. Pascal and I have been pretty good friends since the first race we had together in ’87. It’s exciting for both of us. He knows how to run a race team and I truly believe we have a good shot. We’re going to go down there and relieve the old days when I wasn’t a factory rider. It will be fun. Hopefully, we will be the talk of the town.”And what does the future hold?“At this point it’s just Daytona,” Duhamel said. “I would have liked to have done the Superbike, which I would have liked because of the past success of the bike [GSXR-1000) in that class, but there was just not enough time. We’re already late with just the 200. But down the road, there’s definitely a possibility of putting something together and going to racetracks that I like again, and trying to show people we’re still racing here.” 

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.