Beaubier, Gerloff Lead Yamaha Charge with First and Second Place Finishes in Historic DAYTONA 200
NEWS March 21, 2013
Photo by Brian J Nelson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla (March 21, 2013) - The history of the DAYTONA 200 boasts signature weekends from some of the all-time legends of the sport. Most of the all-time greats from American road racing have at least one of the substantial and unique trophies from winning the 200. Kenny Roberts, Kevin Schwantz, Eddie Lawson, Miguel DuHamel, and Mat Mladin can all be introduced with the phrase "DAYTONA 200 winner" for the rest of their lives. Not all of the men who have won the DAYTONA 200 fall under the heading of all-time greats, however, since the DAYTONA 200 checkered flag is such an intriguing prize, it's been something for the legends to shoot for and conquer. Daytona is so important to the manufacturers and teams because winning the race shows that a rider can perform under pressure at such a difficult circuit.
A DAYTONA 200 win can springboard a rider into greatness on an international level, too. Kevin Schwantz and Nicky Hayden won Daytona and then moved on to international acclaim and eventually each of them won a World Championship.
Part of the allure of Daytona happens before the race even starts. The Rolex watch that Daytona traditionally awards to the pole winner is a fantastic prize. When one talks to a legend like Scott Russell, and he's wearing a Daytona Rolex, it's a subtle reminder of his accomplishment.
Cameron Beaubier had one of those weekends. How far the 20-year-old Yamaha Extended Service/Graves/Yamaha pilot goes in the future remains to be seen, but the Californian proved his ability once again at the 72nd DAYTONA 200. Beaubier dominated the weekend, putting his stamp on the event in a way some of the legends have. Simply put, he owned it.
Beaubier looked to be on a higher level than his competition all weekend, as he started out by outdistancing himself from the field in practice, then taking care of business in qualifying. In the race, he managed to earn a gap and avoid the multi-rider passing battles that are a trademark for the 3.51-mile circuit and eventually claimed victory in the 200-mile race by 22.254 seconds in dominating fashion.
"I rode as hard as I could the first stint and then tried to be super-consistent," said Beaubier. "I had one little mess-up where I ran wide in Turn 1, and then, after that, I just calmed down and kept clicking off laps. My Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha ran awesome. They gave me two awesome pit stops, and I just rode as hard as I could. I can't thank them enough."
Beaubier's teammate Garrett Gerloff took second place at the track where his 2012 season was ruined by a practice crash that broke his leg. Gerloff shined brightly this time around and, apart from Beaubier, had everyone covered. The young Texan was able to hang with Beaubier until his teammate motored away before the first stop.
"The race was longer than I thought it would be, but it was awesome," said Gerloff. "It was awesome to be in the front group at the beginning and then Cameron started pulling away and we started pulling him back. Every once in a while, we'd pass him and then he made a run for it and kind of got away. I tried to catch up but I just couldn't do it. Big thanks to my team for awesome pit stops and all the testing we do. That's why we're 1-2 on the podium. I think this is going to be an awesome year and I just want to keep it rolling."
Bobby Fong earned a hard third place for RMR/Triple Crown Industries Racing. Fong, in his first ride for the team, showed the heart to win but didn't quite have the ultimate pace to make it happen.
"It was a long race but the training I did this off-season paid off," said Fong. "My bike worked great the whole time as I was just out there circulating, trying to maintain my position. It's the best finish I've ever had at Daytona so thanks to everyone for helping me out."
The RoadRace Factory teammates Jake Gagne and J.D. Beach were fourth and fifth. Gagne turned the fastest lap of the race (1.50.087) but both finished over a minute behind Beaubier. The two young upstarts continue to hone their skills and show they are men to watch in the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike class.
Steve Rapp had a wild weekend and took sixth as he filled in for pre-race contender Dane Westby, who crashed on Thursday and had to miss the race. Rapp, known for riding a multitude of bikes over the years, hopped on the GEICO Honda in Friday morning's cold session and was able to translate his experience to perform admirably. Rapp stayed out of trouble and was lapped just before the end to bring home a solid finish one second ahead of reigning SuperSport champ James Rispoli.
Rispoli, on the National Guard/Celtic Racing Suzuki, looked very racy early on before settling into the 200-mile groove.
Canada's Ben Young earned eighth place. Young kept the #86 bike out of trouble and completed the 200 miles as he continues to learn and improve his skill set.
The battle for ninth would also mark the best DAYTONA 200 finish ever by a woman. Melissa Paris (MPH Racing) and Elena Myers (Sturgess Cycle Triumph) battled for the spot and, at one time, it looked like Paris would take the position but she was assessed a penalty for her last pit stop and lost ground because of it. That meant Myers, a SuperSport winner at Daytona, took the spot by a little more than 16 seconds in her first DSB race. Paris also posted her best-ever finish in the class, however.
Some big names fell by the wayside in the event with mechanical issues, including the last two winners of the race in Joey Pascarella and Jason DiSalvo. Jake Zemke, who qualified on the front row and ran near the front, also retired after 31 laps. Huntley Nash looked to have a top-ten finish in the bag, but his bike expired after the last pit stop.
For Beaubier, the bigger picture now is the championship. After impressing despite injury last year on the way to third place, Beaubier is off to an excellent start. With last year's number two in Dane Westby scoring no points, Beaubier is in better position to secure the elusive Daytona SportBike championship for Yamaha.
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