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Mar 10, 2011

Updated: DiSalvo One Second Faster Than Anyone Else During Opening AMA Pro Daytona SportBike Practice

Jason DiSalvo topped the first AMA Pro Daytona SportBike practice session Thursday at Daytona International Speedway by turning a lap of 1:51.445, 0.998 second faster than anyone else, around the 3.5-mile infield road course on his Latus Motors Racing Ducati 848EVO.

Several riders from the session commented that the surface was really dirty and slippery. Huntley Nash and Russ Wikle, two crash victims during the session, blamed the slippery surface for their falls. DiSalvo, however, embraced the lack of traction from the start.

"I've never ridden the Ducati really loose, you know, sliding the thing around a lot, and I was able to really slide the thing around and dirt track it through the corners," DiSalvo told "Typically, that's something you're doing on [the second day of a race weekend] and I was doing it on my second lap, and it felt great. That was something I hadn't really tried yet with the Ducati, and I was really able to work with the rear traction. The rear of the bike is really connected to the throttle. So it felt good.

"The reason I was able to spin it up so easily, for sure, was the track being so green and dirty. The first lap out the rear end came around. I thought, 'This isn't good.' But I picked up the throttle and just carried the slide right out of the corner and it was great. So I just kind of kept doing that and picked the pace up as the session went on.

"My lap wasn't anything special. It was just a clean, clear lap. I didn't have any draft. I just kind of didn't miss any apexes and kept it smooth, and it paid off with a quick time. I had another one going that was a little bit quicker but I made a mistake and ran wide."

Asked for his thoughts on possibly becoming the first rider to win the Daytona 200 on a Ducati, DiSalvo smiled and said, "I would love to do it. It's definitely a goal of mine and the team. So we're just going to keep pushing hard. It would be great if we could stay one second faster than those guys the whole weekend, but those guys will for sure pick up the pace as the weekend goes on. Hopefully, we can match them and keep picking up the pace as well."

There were a total of four of the new Ducati 848EVOs in the top 10 of the first practice. Behind DiSalvo were Celtic Racing/Fast by Ferracci Ducati's P.J. Jacobsen, second-fastest with a 1:52.443; DNA Energy Drink/Roberson Motorsports' Jake Holden, sixth with a 1:53.818; and Barrett Long, who turned a 10th-best 1:54.073 on his Desmomaniacs/Ducati Miami machine.

The top non-Ducati rider was 2010 AMA Pro SuperSport East Champion and Daytona SportBike rookie J.D. Beach, who did a third-quickest 1:53.293 on his Cycle World Attack Performance Kawasaki ZX-6R. Beach actually practiced on Daytona International Speedway's dirt track Thursday afternoon in preparation for the AMA Pro Flat Track National, before riding in the Daytona SportBike practice.

Former dirt tracker and former Daytona SportBike Champion Danny Eslick was fourth-fastest with a 1:53.407 on his GEICO Powersports RMR Suzuki GSX-R600. Eslick was 0.003 second quicker than Beach's teammate Eric Bostrom, who was 13th on his ZX-10R in Superbike qualifying.

Seventh-best in the DSB session was veteran Michael Barnes, who did a 1:53.852 on his Triple Crown Racing Yamaha YZF-R6. Barnes said he is only doing the Daytona 200 with the team.

Y.E.S./Pat Clark Racing/Graves Yamaha's Tommy Aquino was eighth with a 1:53.953. Barnes' teammate Paul Allison earned the ninth spot with a 1:54.060.

Riders who finished the session outside of the top 10 included: Project 1 Atlanta's Jake Zemke (11th, 1:54.112), Vesrah Suzuki's Taylor Knapp (12th, 1:54.123) and Cory West (13th, 1:54.133), Monster Energy Graves Yamaha's Josh Herrin (14th, 1:54.156), and Team M4 Suzuki's Dane Westby (16th, 1:54.457).

AMA Pro Daytona SportBike Championship
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, Florida
March 10, 2011
Provisional Practice Results (3.5-mile course, all on Dunlop tires):

1. Jason DiSalvo (Duc 848EVO), 1:51.445
2. P.J. Jacobsen (Duc 848EVO), 1:52.443
3. J.D. Beach (Kaw ZX-6R), 1:53.293
4. Danny Eslick (Suz GSX-R600), 1:53.407
5. Eric Bostrom (Kaw ZX-6R), 1:53.410
6. Jake Holden (Duc 848EVO), 1:53.818
7. Michael Barnes (Yam YZF-R6), 1:53.852
8. Tommy Aquino (Yam YZF-R6), 1:53.953
9. Paul Allison (Yam YZF-R6), 1:54.060
10. Barrett Long (Duc 848EVO), 1:54.073
11. Jake Zemke (Yam YZF-R6), 1:54.112
12. Taylor Knapp (Suz GSX-R600), 1:54.123
13. Cory West (Suz GSX-R600), 1:54.133
14. Josh Herrin (Yam YZF-R6), 1:54.156
15. Bostjan Skubic (Yam YZF-R6), 1:54.452
16. Dane Westby (Suz GSX-R600), 1:54.457
17. Fernando Amantini (Kaw ZX-6R), 1:54.703
18. Santiago Villa (Suz GSX-R600), 1:55.003
19. Joey Pascarella (Yam YZF-R6), 1:56.357
20. Russ Wikle (Suz GSX-R600), 1:56.468, crash
21. Kris Turner (Suz GSX-R600), 1:57.022
22. Huntley Nash (Yam YZF-R6), 1:57.070, crash
23. Pat Mooney (Buell 1125R), 1:57.570
24. Melissa Paris (Yam YZF-R6), 1:57.828
25. Cameron Beaubier (Suz GSX-R600), 1:58.002
26. Ricky Orlando (Kaw ZX-6R), 1:58.305
27. Jason Farrell (Kaw ZX-6R), 1:58.999
28. Tyler O'Hara (Yam YZF-R6), 1:59.063
29. Anthony Fania (Suz GSX-R600), 1:59.655
30. Reese Wacker (Suz GSX-R600), 2:00.206
31. Scott Decker (Suz GSX-R600), 2:00.752
32. Lyles Sanders (Yam YZF-R6), 2:00.783
33. Luiz Cerciari (Suz GSX-R600), 2:01.193
34. Ray Hofman (Hon CBR600RR), 2:01.348
35. Sam Rozynski (Yam YZF-R6), 2:01.501
36. Marco Martinez (Kaw ZX-6R), 2:01.994
37. John Ashmead (Kaw ZX-6R), 2:02.366
38. David McPherson (Yam YZF-R6), 2:02.482
39. Les Moscariello (Duc 848), 2:03.376
40. Giuseppe Messina (Yam YZF-R6), 2:03.417
41. Matthew Sadowski (Duc 848), 2:03.532
42. Wes Humphryes (Suz GSX-R600), 2:04.155
43. David Jones (Tri Daytona 675), 2:05.161
44. David Sadowski, Jr. (Duc 848), 2:06.093
45. Shawn Hill (Kaw ZX-6R), 2:06.699
46. Thomas Digiandomenico (Yam YZF-R6), 2:09.664

More, from a press release issued by GEICO:

Past Daytona SportBike champion Eslick ready for another championship run

DAYTONA, Fla. -- To say GEICO Suzuki rider Danny Eslick is looking forward to this weekend's season-opening Daytona 200 would be a huge understatement. As the runner-up in last year's AMA Daytona SportBike championship, Eslick feels as though it's been far too long since he's challenged for a trophy and he's anxious to get back to racing.

"I'm ready to get going," Eslick said. "It's been a long offseason and I'm just looking forward to getting back on my bike and getting after it."

The Oklahoman feels especially confident heading into the opening round in Daytona since his Richie Morris Racing team spent some time at the historic facility in the offseason.

"We've tested there and the bike felt pretty good," Eslick said. "I'm just looking forward to the first race and hopefully getting through there without any problems and leaving with some good solid points."

The 2009 Daytona SportBike champion isn't letting any first race jitters get in the way of his goals for the season. He's ready to run a great race at Daytona and hopefully set the tone for the year.

"It would be great to ride a solid race and get on the podium," Eslick said. "I've had some great Daytona races in the past. I'd like to win it but I won't be disappointed with anything on the podium. I'd like to leave Florida in the top three. That would be a great start to our season."

The opening race at Daytona is different than any race of the season because it's length requires teams to execute multiple pit stops to get through the race. This is a challenge Eslick recognizes but also appreciates because of the unique dynamic it creates within the team and between the riders.

"It's the only race we have with pit stops so it throws a curve ball at everybody," Eslick said. "It's cool though, it's definitely neat to have a long race. A lot can happen in 200 miles of racing."

Eslick is hoping the marathon event will work in his favor. He believes his veteran crew will work well together in the pit stops.

"We haven't won Daytona before but we've had some good finishes," Eslick said. "We've had okay weekends here, but we've never been completely flawless. It would be nice to have one of those perfect weekends with good pit stops where we just click."

Eslick's goals may sound simple, but he knows they're going to take a lot of work, and he's ready to get started in Daytona.

"Daytona is a great place to kick off the season with it being bike week and everything," Eslick said. "My goal is just to win races this season and I hope I am able to start that goal off right by running well here in Daytona."

Riders will practice at noon and 3:55 p.m. Thursday, qualify at 8:45 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. Friday, and race the Daytona 200 at 1:15 p.m. Saturday. SPEED TV will carry all of the action.
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