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Apr 10, 2013

AMA Pro Racing Checks In On Daytona SportBike Racer Dane Westby

AMA Pro Daytona SportBike racer Dane Westby (5) on his GEICO Honda CBR600RR during pre-season testing. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.
Dane Westby Optimistic after Tough Luck at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Coming off a career best season in 2012, many pinned Dane Westby as the favorite to claim the sought-after AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike Championship in 2013 after reigning champion Martin Cardenas graduated to the National Guard SuperBike ranks this past winter. After all, Westby did manage to rack up 10 podium appearances and one victory to help him secure a second-place finish in the 2012 GoPro Daytona SportBike final point standings.

Unfortunately for Westby though, a Thursday practice session at Daytona International Speedway this year was the only action he would participate in for the duration of the season opening DAYTONA 200 weekend. The 26-year-old crashed twice during the practice session, his second mishap going into the chicane resulting in injury and rendering him unable to compete in the DAYTONA 200.

“The crash was minor,” said Westby. “The fact that I didn’t let go of the bike when I wrecked is what ultimately led to my bike flipping up and hitting me on the way down and damaging my spleen enough to where the medical staff didn’t see it appropriate to clear me for the remainder of the weekend.”

Some may wonder if the learning curve associated with switching from Suzuki to Honda for 2013 might have something to do with Westby’s two accidents to start the season. However, the Oklahoma native assured any doubters that his new ride was not the issue at all.

“My first impressions of the Honda are that it’s extremely smooth and easy to ride,” said Westby. “I love that bike and I can say with complete confidence that switching rides had nothing to do with my wrecks at Daytona. The Honda matches up with any of the other bikes I’ve ever ridden and might even top them.”

The good news for Westby is that over the last several years, the majority of the GoPro Daytona SportBike champions haven’t exactly excelled at Daytona to start their season. In fact, some recent champions have actually been in the same situation which Westby currently sits -- with zero points on the board heading into Round 2 at Road America. In Danny Eslick’s two GoPro Daytona SportBike championship runs in 2009 and 2011, he wanted to get out of Daytona as fast as possible after finishing 73rd and 35th in each of his respective season openers. The young Eslick then went on to podium just about every race after that to claim the two coveted titles.

More uplifting news for Westby is that the extended layover between Daytona and Round 2 at Road America should be more than enough time to give the 2012 runner-up’s injury a chance to heal properly. Last season at Road America, Westby recorded second- and fourth-place finishes in front of a healthy fan base.

It just so happens that there is a Wisconsin town named after one of the rising star’s late ancestors called Westby, Wis., located just three hours outside of Road America’s beautiful grounds in Elkhart Lake, Wis. With many of his family and friends expected to be in attendance come May 31 – June 2, 2013, look for Westby to bounce back with strong performances in hopes of making up ground in the GoPro Daytona SportBike point standings.