Erion Honda’s Chris Peris captured his first win in Daytona SportBike at Road American on Saturday. Peris started the race from the fifth row after being disqualified during Friday’s qualifying session after his team had allegedly used an illegal fuel.
“It was good to finally put it on top of the box,” Peris said after the race. “I was behind Knapp after the first pace car. I felt like I could get away from him. I just kept running a decent pace. I knew it was going to be two laps when the final pace car came in. It was pretty stressful. When Roger came past me I knew I had to put my head down and I was able to pull it off. Visibility was pretty bad once it started raining. There was no dry line everything was flooded.”
At the start of the rain-shortened 13-lap race it was M4 Suzuki’s Jason DiSalvo with the holeshot into Turn 1. Behind was his teammate Martin Cardenas, Taylor Knapp aboard a Buell 1125R, and Aprilia’s Chaz Davies.
Davies motored past the guys in front of him taking the lead momentarily before crashing out of the race in Turn 8. Other first lap casualties included Roadracingworld.com’s Russ Wikle and Evan Steel Performance’s Robertino Pietri. The carnage necessitated the use of the Honda pace car while debris was cleaned up on the track.
On the first restart it was Knapp out in front followed by Peris. Pat Clark Yamaha’s Steve Rapp would be the next rider to smash. Up front Peris put his head down and immediately opened up a huge gap over the rest of the field. Rain started falling heavily which could be blamed for another series of crashes that brought out the pace car again on Lap 9.
On the final restart it was Peris again out in front followed by Attack Kawasaki’s Roger Lee Hayden, Cardenas, and Filmore. Immediately it looked as if Peris and Hayden we’re going to duke it out but Peris once again opened up a gap on the field.
“It was an interesting race for me,” said Hayden. “I was getting comfortable just trying to be smooth pick them off one bike at a time. The last pace car came out and I tried to pass Chris in five but he came by me and was moving pretty fast. I tried to bring it home in second. I couldn’t really see on the last lap and Martin almost passed me. But it was fun and I’m glad to be back on the podium.”
More drama would unfold when Filmore and another rider tangled on the final lap with both riders sliding down the wet asphalt. Peris would go on to win by nearly 8 seconds over Hayden. Cardenas would get the final podium position over Knap and the R6 of Damion Cudlin.
“Today’s race was good for the championship,” stated Cardenas. “It was very tough to race in these conditions. Since the warm up I almost crashed twice. The track was very slippery. At the beginning some guys came by me I tried to stay with them. So I could and some like Peris I couldn’t. I tried to stay in rhythm and not lose too many positions.”
Daytona SportBike Saturday Race 1 Results:
1. Chris Peris, Honda CBR600RR
2. Roger Lee Hayden, Kawasaki ZX-6R
3. Martin Cardenas, Suzuki GSX-R600
4. Taylor Knapp, Buell 1125R
5. Damion Cudlin, Yamaha YZF-R6
6. Danny Eslick, Buell 1125R
7. Shawn Higbee, Buell 1125R
8. Jamie Hacking, Kawasaki ZX-6R
9. Michael Barnes, Buell 1125R
10. Fernando Amantini, Kawasaki ZX-6R