MotoAmerica: YART Yamaha Previews The “Great American Motorcycle Race”

MotoAmerica: YART Yamaha Previews The “Great American Motorcycle Race”

© 2024, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. From a press release issued By Yamaha Motor Europe:

YART Yamaha Riders Ready to Take on Daytona 200

The reigning FIM Endurance World Champions, Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team riders Niccolò Canepa, Karel Hanika, and Marvin Fritz, will make their debut at the 82nd running of the legendary Daytona 200 in Florida from the 7th-9th of March.

After winning the 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) in sensational fashion during the final round of the season at the Bol d’Or, the YART Yamaha team decided to set their sights on a different goal and take on what is commonly referred to as the “Great American Motorcycle Race”.

The Daytona 200 was founded in 1937, with the original race using dirt bikes and the sands of Daytona Beach as a track before it moved to the famous banking of the Daytona International Speedway in 1961 and switched to using machines based on the Grand Prix bikes of the day.

In 1985, safety concerns due to the increased top speeds of GP bikes led to the organisers limiting the entries to superbike-based machines only. Then, in 2009, they chose to switch to supersport machinery, and since 2022, the Daytona 200 has formed a non-points-scoring round of the MotoAmerica Supersport class.

This famous race has always drawn a spectacular entry list, especially during its heyday in the 1970s, and regularly attracts some of the top riders from around the world, with 2024 being no exception.

Historically, it has proved a happy hunting ground for Yamaha with 27 victories in total, more than any other manufacturer, including 13 consecutive wins from 1972 to 1984. The list of winners for Yamaha includes legends such as Jarno Saarinen, Giacomo Agostini, Johnny Cecotto, Steve Baker, Kenny Roberts, and Eddie Lawson, while Brandon Pasch secured Yamaha’s last victory in 2021.

Unlike in the EWC, where Canepa, Hanika, and Fritz race the YART R1 as a team, in Daytona, they will swap their usual steed for a Bridgestone-shod R6, and all three will compete against each other under the YART – Prokasro banner.

To help get up to speed, Hanika and Fritz both took part in an ASRA race at Daytona International Speedway towards the end of last year, but for Canepa, this week will be the first time he has ridden at the circuit. However, the trio took part in a recent test at Almeria in Spain on the YART R6 to continue adapting to the new machinery and different tyre compounds.

The 5.64km Daytona 200 layout presents a unique challenge, with the 31-degree banking allowing high top speeds and ensuring that maintaining a slipstream during the 57-lap race becomes vital. Plus, with nine left turns compared to three right, combined with the time spent on the left-hand side of the tyre while on the banking, it can be tricky to keep enough temperature in the right-hand side of the tyre for the infield section.

The 2024 Daytona 200 kicks off on Thursday, the 7th of March, with Practice starting at 10:45 am local time (UTC-5) before the first qualifying sessions get underway at 2:50 pm. The second qualifying sessions kick off on Friday at 10:10 am, with the race start scheduled for 1:10 pm on Saturday.

Niccolò Canepa

YART – Prokasro

“I am extremely excited to race in the Daytona 200. It is a special place with so much history, and the track is completely different from anything we normally race in Europe. I have never raced there, and I am not used to riding a 600c bike, so it will be a challenge but very exciting. I am delighted to be able to come here with my teammates to experience this. It is an extraordinary opportunity that YART have given us to race here, and I want to enjoy it. I will try my best, but I honestly have no idea how strong we will be. The R6 feels great, the team is amazing, so we will try to have fun, and you never know what could happen.”

Karel Hanika

YART – Prokasro

“The Daytona 200 has been on my wish list for many years, and to get to take part in this epic race with my YART Yamaha family is incredible. I came here for an ASRA race with Marvin in November, and we were able to put in some laps around this fantastic circuit. We are obviously not used to racing the R6 or this unique track, so we have had to adapt quickly and find the right Bridgestone tyre combinations. While we will not be riding as teammates, we can share all the data and try to help each other with the best setup. This year features an incredibly strong lineup of riders, and we have no real reference to how we will perform, but we will give it our best shot.”

Marvin Fritz

YART – Prokasro

“I am so excited for the race. Karel and I managed to ride here towards the end of last year in an ASRA race, and wow…what a circuit! It was essential to try and understand the demands of this track because, with the banking and the infield section, it can be tricky.  Especially as you spend so much time on the left-hand side of the tyre on the banking, it is easy to make a mistake when you take a right corner, as the right-hand side of the tyre can get cold. We are riding separately in this race, but we will still work together as a team to help us achieve the best result possible. It is key here to work together to stay in the slipstream as if you get dropped from the train of riders, it is easy to fall out of contention. We are one of the only teams on Bridgestone tyres, so we have had to adapt quickly, not only to the R6 but the unique demands of the track. It will be different from what we are used to, but we are excited and can’t wait to get racing.”

Mandy Kainz

YART – Prokasro – Team Manager

“After such an incredible season being crowned World Endurance Champions, we thought we would come here with our riders to give them a taste of something different and as a reward for winning the title. We have had to adapt quickly to the R6 and the Bridgestone tyres, as this is a completely different challenge from what we are used to, but we feel confident that we have a good package. It will be very odd to see the guys riding against each other, but even though they are not riding as a team, we will make sure that we work together to get the best result possible, and I am excited to see what the guys can do against such an illustrious field.”

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