On March 13th Daytona International Speedway played host to the Daytona 200, the crown jewel of endurance motorcycle racing. Sanctioned and run by MotoAmerica, this the 80th running of the race will be a Supersport affair instead of Superbikes. So, this year Yamaha R6’s, Suzuki GSXR-600, and Kawasaki ZX6R’s will be challenging Daytona’s 30 degree banking and tricky infield course. This race will also be the coming out party for the new to the class Triumph 765RS and the Ducati Panigale V2.
With the weather forecast leading up to the race had the potential to be washed out due to heavy rain in the area. Even practice time was cut short due to rain passing through. So, all eyes were on the sky. Finally, just scant time before the scheduled start time of the race, the skies cleared, and the crews dashed to get their pits setup for the race.
This year’s fifty-seven lap event would indeed prove to be an exciting event with the addition of the Ducati and the Triumph to the class. Josh Herrin on the HSBK Racing Ducati NYC Ducati Panigale grabbed pole position with a time of 1:50:088, just .01 of a second quicker than SYNTIANICS Racing Yamama Sheridan Morias. The top Triumph was piloted by Brandon Paasch of TOBC Racing for fourth spot on the grid.
With a clean start to the race and the riders underway, things quickly took shape with Herrin using all the advantages of pole position to lead the way. With much of the pack dicing things up for the first part of the race, eventual winner Brandon Paasch just hung towards the back of the leaders group. This proved to be the winning strategy.
Just before the first round of pit stops were to commence, a dagger was stuck into the hopes of Josh Herrin. There was a miscalculation on how much fuel he had left, so his Ducati ran out of gas, and he had to coast into the pits. This massive loss of time effectively killed any hopes he had of getting to the checkered flag first and collecting a Rolex watch. Ultimately though, he did recover to garner 10th place. While it may not have been what he wanted, it did show that Herrin and the Ducati are going to a force to reckon with.
Meanwhile Brandon Paasch was executing his hang back strategy to perfection. Never allowing the leaders to escape, yet never pushing too hard allowed the TOBC Racing rider to keep an eye on the action with minimal risk. Paasch and his team made the gutsy and ultimately decisive call to forego tires at the second stop and just go for fuel. The time they saved on the second stop allowed Paasch to catch on with SYNTIANICS Racing Yamama Sheridan Morias, and Squid Hunter Yamaha Josh Hayes.
With the three riders drafting they reeled in Attack Yamaha Cameron Peterson as the race was getting near the end. With Paasch nursing his tires so he would have enough traction at the end, he played the waiting game perfectly. As the riders came out of the chicane on the backstretch for the final time, Hayes went high allowing Paasch to stay low and on the tail of Peterson and Morias. At the last possible second Paasch used all pulling power that the Triumph had to execute a perfect double draft pass to win by a scant .007 of a second over second place Cameron Peterson. Morias came in third .057 back and Hayes nabbed fourth .126 of a second back.
With Brandon Paasch winning the 80th running of the Daytona 200, this makes the second year in a row that the New Jerseyan has captured the checkered flag at Daytona, along with another Rolex watch. The question now is will he be able to make it a three-peat next year, or will Josh Herrin and the Ducati fulfill their enormous potential? Either way, hopefully next years edition will be as exciting as this year’s Daytona 200.