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Sep 8, 2012

Westby Penalized And Benched During Friday AMA Pro Daytona SportBike Qualifying At NJMP

Dane Westby (5). Photo by Brian J. Nelson, courtesy of AMA Pro Racing
AMA Pro Racing officials ordered Team M4 Suzuki's Dane Westby to sit out the majority of the first AMA Pro Daytona SportBike qualifying session Friday at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) after ruling that Westby broke the rules when he returned to the pits counter-course direction after crashing early in the session.

"I got one flyer in, and the bike felt really good," Westby told Roadracingworld.com. "I was just really going for it, and I wicked myself up over the highside over there in Turn One at the beginning of my second flyer."

Uninjured, Westby picked up his GSX-R600 and tried to get it back to pit lane. The only problem was he rode in the wrong direction on the racetrack and on hot pit lane, according to AMA Pro Road Racing Director David McGrath.

"I tried to come back across the track to come back to the pits," said Westby, "but I didn't come straight across the track. It was more like a 45-degree angle in the wrong direction. I looked to make sure no one was coming first, but technically I did go the wrong way on the track.

"And I kind of went the wrong way along the pit feeder road along the grass. I wasn't on the road. I felt it was OK at the time, but these guys [AMA Pro Racing officials] weren't real fond of that. I can respect that. So they made me sit out the rest of the session and now I'm on double-secret probation. But they're going to let me ride [Saturday], so everything's good.

"They said that I had done that before at Barber a year or so ago. The bike was facing the wrong way and I couldn't turn right across the gravel trap, so I had to go the wrong way. So they had precedent that I had done that before. So yeah, I get the message. I never had to sit out a session before. I won't do that again.

"It would've been nice to have that [track] time, but I still qualified 13th. So even if it rains tomorrow [during final qualifying] I think I can still win from that position."

Westby rode two very strong Daytona SportBike races at NJMP last season. He crashed while battling for the lead on the final lap of Race One and finished second, 0.135-second behind winner Josh Herrin, in Race Two.

"Yeah, I had a couple of strong races last year, until I went around the outside of that lapper [in Race One] for some reason and it didn't work out," said Westby. "I'd like to have a couple of more strong ones. I'd like to finish out strong. I might not take it all [Championship] home, but I would like to at least have some flashes."