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Dec 19, 2010

New Pavement At Daytona International Speedway Receives Strong Positive Feedback From AMA Pro Riders

Blake Young (79).
Dunlop and AMA Pro Racing opened a two-day test Sunday aimed at gathering tire data on the newly-repaved sections of Daytona International Speedway (DIS), and in spite of sporadic misting and ambient temperatures that struggled to get into the 50s, riders had strong, positive feedback to share about the new racing surface.

"The new surface was awesome," said Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Blake Young, who rode his GSX-R1000 Superbike on the 2.95-mile infield road course. "It was really smooth and really fast. It seemed like it had a ton of grip, especially the new pavement into Turn One. The new pavement goes pretty far into Turn One, so I had a lot of confidence on the front end going in there. And coming out of the chicane, it's pretty good for grip."

"It's awesome," said Vesrah Suzuki's Cory West, who rode a 2009 GSX-R600 Daytona SportBike on the 2.95-mile course. The 3.51-mile course, which was used for the last two Daytona 200 races, was not used during the test. "It's super smooth. The way it used to be you really had to pick the right line on the banking, run up high by the wall and come down at just the right time to avoid the worst of the bumps. Now, you can ride wherever you want to. I didn't even wear a chest pad today, and that used to be mandatory equipment for riding at Daytona because of the beating you took from the [fuel] tank over the bumps on the banking. It almost feels like we're riding at a different racetrack."

"It was freaky to see guys coming through the tri-oval and not have their heads bobbing and weaving all over the place," from the bumps, said AMA Pro Racing Race Director and former Pro rider David McGrath.

Improvements in grip and smoothness of a newly-repaved racetrack are expected, but so is accelerated tire wear due to the abrasiveness of a new surface. Considering DIS is already the most demanding track on tires in AMA Pro Road Racing, if not the world, tire performance was a major point of concern for most heading into the test. But tire wear was not an issue Sunday.

"So far, no problems. So far, the rear tire looks"¦wow!" said Young. "When you come in, it looks pretty impressive. It looks hardly even used."

"I had no [grip] issues," said West. "It was pretty cold today and misting off and on, but it felt good. The tire wear seemed to be pretty good, too."

"The big worry was an abrasion band or cold tearing," said McGrath, "but I saw no abrasion or cold tearing. I got to talking to a couple of Dunlop tire guys who said with the temperatures being so low the track just wasn't offering the grip, that there wasn't enough grip to really get heat into tires and cause wear."

Testing is scheduled to continue Monday, when the weather forecast calls for slightly higher temperatures, mid-60s, and no precipitation.

The repaving work at DIS removed all of the laid-in-track, electronic timing loops, but AMA Pro Racing made a special effort to get a timing loop installed at the start/finish line in time for this test. Official times from Sunday's testing were not immediately available, however.