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Oct 18, 2002

Geoff May Stars In Friday CCS Racing Action At 19th Annual Daytona Race Of Champions

<BR>Copyright 2002, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>By David Swarts<BR><BR>Team Embry/Roadracingworld.com's Geoff May was the star Friday at Daytona International Raceway, winning the CCS GTO Expert and Heavyweight Superbike Expert races on his Pirelli-equipped Suzuki GSX-Rs.<BR><BR>In the 30-minute GTO race Marco Martinez and Michael Himmelsbach battled for the lead before Himmelsbach's Aprilia RSV1000R Superbike broke and Martinez was caught and passed by Larry Denning on lap five. Denning's run at the front lasted for only a few corners, and May, who started on row nine of the 54-rider grid, took the lead to start lap six. Riding a Suzuki GSX-R1000 on 17-inch Pirelli slicks, May turned low-1:54 lap times to pull away to a nine-second lead before putting his Suzuki on cruise control and winning by five seconds.<BR><BR>Former Daytona 200 winner John Ashmead battled with Des Conboy and Denning late in the race before finishing second on his Peter Brady Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000. Pole-sitter Conboy took third with Denning fourth, well clear of fifth-place Dave Ebben.<BR><BR>Martinez grabbed the holeshot from pole in the Heavyweight Superbike race over Darren Luck, Kevin Gordon and Ashmead and led the foursome onto the West banking. May got a slower start from the third row but made up for it on the brakes going into the new chicane. May went from fifth to first in one outbraking move and took the race lead.<BR><BR>"I didn't think I was going to make it," said 22-year-old May. "I was way to the inside, but the SBS brake pads stopped me and the Pirellis held me."<BR><BR>May wasn't able to shake Ashmead and battled with the veteran over the course of the five-lap sprint until Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki's Steve Rapp joined the fray on the final lap. After starting on row nine, Rapp caught and passed Ashmead coming out of the chicane, tucked into May's draft through NASCAR turn four but came up a wheel short at the finish line.<BR><BR>Rapp's crew realized mid-race that his bike was not legal under CCS Heavyweight Superbike rules and asked CCS official Charles Brothers to have Rapp black-flagged. By the time the request reached the starter the white flag was already out; Rapp took full responsibility and said he was confused when he entered the race. Rapp was listed on the results as "disqualified due to class suitability" and later said he had entered the race to test tires and get used to his new Suzuki.<BR><BR>May took his second race win and second CCS National Championship of the day with Ashmead second, Luck third and Conboy fourth on his Team Pepsi Suzuki GSX-R750.<BR><BR>Maybe the best race of the day, however, came in Akrapovic Exhaust GTU Expert. Bettencourt's Jeff Wood got the drop on the 44-rider field, cleared out to a three-second lead by the end of lap two and went unchallenged to win by 1.6 seconds on a Kawasaki ZX-6R with a 636cc Superbike engine. The race for second was entertaining, though.<BR><BR>Coming from row five, Canadian young gun Andrew Nelson caught and passed Scott Greenwood for second on lap five. On the next lap, Nelson was joined by row-10 starter Jason DiSalvo, and the two began a back-and-forth duel that would last for the rest of the 30-minute race.<BR><BR>On the final lap, DiSalvo led Nelson through the infield and onto the West banking. At the end of the back straight, Nelson made one of several amazing outbraking moves during the course of the race to take second going into the chicane, but DiSalvo was able to use the draft and the power of his factory Yamaha YZF-R6 to re-pass Nelson and his Honda CBR600F4i before the checkered flag. Greenwood finished fourth ahead of young Matt Furtek on his Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki GSX-R600.<BR><BR>Other Expert race winners Friday included Speedwerks' Brian Kcraget in GP Singles, 55-year-old Jerry Wood in SuperSingles, David Roe in Ultra-Lightweight Sportsman, John Linder over Ed Key in Lightweight Supersport, James Monson in Middleweight Sportsman and John Aksel in Lightweight Sportsman.<BR><BR>Among the amateurs, Ralph Fernandez won in GTO, Alex Ferreira tasted victory in GT Lights and Lightweight Supersport, Kane Lasky rebounded from a crash in GTO to win in GTU, Mike Gantz beat Michael Riffell to the line in Middleweight Sportsman and webjournalist Mike Emery won the Lightweight Sportsman sprint on a Honda XR650 Super Motard machine.<BR><BR>All race winners at the CCS Race of Champions also win CCS National Championships.<BR><BR><BR>Geoff May's grandfather, who served as Crew Chief for a car team racing on the Daytona beach course in 1950, made his first-ever visit to the Speedway and was on hand to see his grandson win.