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Oct 17, 2002

Racer Reaction To New Daytona Chicane


Copyright 2002, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.

By David Swarts

After riding in a Team Hammer Advanced Riding School & Track Ride event at Daytona International Speedway Wednesday, Formula USA and AMA racers had generally positive feedback on the 3.56-mile infield road course's redesigned chicane, with a few reservations.

"I love it!" Arclight Suzuki's Craig Connell told Roadracingworld.com. "I was going to come in there at the end, but I did another lap just so I could go through it (chicane) again. It's definitely safer for us (Formula USA Unlimited Superbike riders) and 600s, but Superbikes, down here (in the tri-oval), they're going to be going faster. I think the complaints will come when they get here in March."

"We're going to see Superbikes doing 200 mph next Spring!" said Daytona veteran Rick Shaw. "I was two gears higher exiting the new chicane."

When asked if he meant two gear teeth higher, Shaw clarified, stating, "No, two gears higher."

"I like it," said AMA Supersport regular Michael Hannas. "It's much safer. You're coming back on the track at a much straighter shot, and you come back onto the speedway where it's straight instead of you coming out right at NASCAR three.

"I think lap times will be around the same, maybe a little faster. You're not carrying as much speed through it (chicane), but you come out faster and sooner and your top speed should be higher in the tri-oval."

"I think it's fun," said Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki's new signee Steve Rapp. "I think it's faster. I think the lap times will be faster. I think you're going into (NASCAR turn) three faster."

Unofficially, Rapp turned a best lap time of 1:53.226, on his team's stopwatches, in his first ride on a Formula USA Unlimited Superbike-spec Suzuki GSX-R750, his first racebike ride on Michelin DOT-labeled tires in years and his first day on the new Daytona layout.

The current Formula USA Unlimited Superbike lap record is a 1:52.941, set on the old course by Shawn Higbee in March 2001.

"But if somebody crashes at the entrance, there's more of a chance of somebody getting hit by the crashed bike than before," added Rapp.

"I don't know. It's different," said Higbee of the new chicane. "It was hard to go fast because it was dusty and kind of slippery. There seem to be some bumps at the entrance and at the exit. It looks like it might have been a rush job."

Despite the dust and bumps, Higbee almost matched his own lap record. "We were in the low 1:53s or 1:53-flat, and I didn't feel up to speed yet. So it will be faster, but I think we could have some tire issues because we're carrying more speed around the banking and into the tri-oval. At least we saw something that suggested that."

"The jury's still out. Ask me at the end of the weekend," said 14K The Movie's Eric Wood. "As far as wanting to point you away from the wall at the exit, it works. But, it presents the opportunity to do a vicious highside in the middle there.

"I think it will be a bottleneck. It will be difficult to deal with a person who is slower. You used to be able to pass someone in the middle of the old chicane. Now, to pass someone in the middle of it, you're gonna have to horrify them. You'll have to pass them on the way in.

"I don't know if it's faster or slower. If it increased my top speed, it was by 200 or 300 rpm. It was pretty similar."