Arai Wins BIG At Daytona 2011
“A” Team takes 5 of 8 races,
Including Daytona 200 and podium sweeps of both Superbike finals
(Daytona, FL) The 2011 edition of Daytona Bike Week road racing hit just about every button possible: big controversy, confusion, crashes—and in between it all, some spectacular racing.
And when the last flag fell, it was the Arai racers who came away with the biggest bag of trophies by far, winning five of the eight races, and earning podiums in the other three.
Although the event’s marquee race, the Daytona 200, has switched from superbikes to the Daytona SportBike class in the last couple years, the big-bore machines still hold a special place in race fans’ hearts. This year’s Superbike double-header showcased Arai domination with podium sweeps in both races, taking five of the first six places in race one, and the top four in race two! What’s more, it was the same three Arai racers at the top of both. Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Blake Young grabbed both wins—literally—on his GSX-R1000, with dramatic last-lap drafting passes at the line over reigning Superbike champion Josh Hayes and his Monster Energy Graves Yamaha R1. Hayes and Tommy Hayden—Young’s Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammate—traded second and third places, Hayden taking second on Friday, Hayes on Saturday. Martin Cardenas, the current Daytona SportBike champion, showed he’s now also a superbike force to be reckoned in his debut races aboard the big M4 Suzuki GSX-R1000, earning a sixth and fourth respectively. Roger Lee Hayden and his National Guard Suzuki finished fifth in race one.
Even though this year’s Daytona 200 pinned the meter for controversy and confusion, the resulting 15-lap dash for the big trophy was one of the most thrilling races in memory. The breakaway pack of seven riders swapped the lead so many times within each lap that you were afraid to blink for fear of missing something. At the end, Arai rider Jason DiSalvo aboard his Team Latus Motors Racing Ducati 848EVO used the famed Daytona draft to win at the line, earning first-ever Daytona 200 wins for both himself and the Ducati brand. Of the three other Arai riders in that lead group, teenage rookie Daytona SportBike rider J.D. Beach brought his Cycle World Attack Kawasaki home in fourth, followed by M4 Suzuki’s Dane Westby in sixth, and Taylor Knapp, seventh.
Young Colombian rider David Gaviria won the second of the two SuperSport races for Arai to go with his third place in race one; Canadian Emerson Connor and his DucShop Ducati 848 took fourth race two. And in the inaugural 2011 H-D XR1200 event, RMR/Rossmeyer Racing’s Kyle Wyman won his first AMA pro road race, and Arai’s fifth of the week. Joe Kopp, the former AMA Grand National dirt track champion who retired from dirt track at the end of last year, came back to take third on his Latus Motors Racing XR.
Speaking of dirt track, even though Arai lost both Daytona Short Track races to an unstoppable Sammy Halbert—who seems to be getting a lock on the event, having won one of last year’s races as well—it was Arai racers all over the rest of the podium positions. Johnny Lewis captured the number-two spot both nights, followed by reigning national champion Jake Johnson with a third and fourth respectively. Former National Singles champion Brad Baker took third on Thursday night, and Kenny Coolbeth came in fifth on Friday.
All in all, the 2011 Daytona racing wars can be summed up in four letters: A-R-A-I. So a major Congratulations and well done to all of our Arai winners and heroes.
"All Images are Copyright, Rick Menapace, 2011"