Ducati’s Jason DiSalvo overcame major setbacks, and benefited from some good luck, to win the 2011 Daytona 200 by just 0.029 seconds.
Jason DiSalvo took top honors in the abridged 2011 Daytona 200 event, becoming the first Ducati rider ever to win the contest. Featuring only 42 laps after two red flags interrupted the middle of the race, Vesrah Suzuki’s Cory West and Project 1 Atlanta’s Jake Zemke rounded out the podium in second and third respectively during the 70th annual running of the event.
At the drop of the flag DiSalvo and Geico Powersports Suzuki’s Danny Elsick set themselves at the front of the field with pole winner Zemke following. The power of DiSalvo’s Ducati was clearly evident from the start as he maneuvered into the lead during the opening laps of the contest. Team Graves Yamaha’s Josh Herrin also made contact with the lead group, and by the second lap Herrin was leading the pack. It was an early end for Cycle World Attack Kawasaki’s Eric Bostrom, who was forced to call it quits in the opening laps after mechanical problems with his ZX-6R.
By Lap 10 Celtic Racing’s P.J. Jacobsen had crashed out while running inside the top-10. DiSalvo, Zemke, Herrin, Eslick and Kawasaki’s J.D. Beach made up the top-five with Roberson Motorsports Ducati’s Jake Holden holding sixth. While in the lead Eslick was the first rider to pit. The pit session caused a slight loss of ground on the lead pack of Herrin, DiSalvo and Zemke, who decided to pit the following lap. With good pit sessions for the leading riders, Eslick’s deficit became more evident as Beach overtook him for fourth on Lap 21. Shortly after, Eslick suffered a scary high speed crash which he luckily recovered from. Also suffering a major setback was DiSalvo, who blew a cylinder on his Ducati 848 EVO.
The Daytona 200 became a two-part affair when a red flag was issued on Lap 28. A mandatory front tire change in the interest of rider safety was cited as the reason for the red flag, and teams were given the chance to work on the bikes as well as refuel. The rider who benefited the most from the red flag was DiSalvo, who was allowed to restart the contest after swapping motors with another bike.
Cory West (#57) had the lead in the final Daytona 200 lap but couldn’t keep it across the finish line.
After nearly two hours in the pits the Daytona 200 was restarted with Russ Wikle, Barrett Long and Jason Farrell all crashing out in the first turn, causing yet another red flag in order to clean oil from the track. For the third time riders lined up at the grid and let loose down the track with Zemke in the lead followed by DiSalvo and Herrin. Beach soon entered the mix as they all fought for position up front with Holden and Dane Westby also making their presence felt. It became a six-rider freight train barreling down the high banks of Daytona as less than a second separated the top-six riders.
DiSalvo moved from seventh to third in one fell swoop as Herrin took the lead from Zemke. With just three laps remaining DiSalvo attacked the front and secured the lead, but the battle was far from over. After positions juggled a few more times between the frontrunners, the white flag was issued with West, Herrin, Zemke and DiSalvo running first through fourth, respectively. DiSalvo made the pass on Zemke for third and it became a dead sprint to the finish with everyone chasing West. Ultimately DiSalvo was crowned first across the line, though only by a shocking 0.029 seconds ahead of West.
“It’s really unbelievable after what the team went through today with everything with the engine,” said DiSalvo. “Those guys worked so hard, it was probably the biggest thrash in all of motorcycling history to get that bike put back together and ready to rock in time for the start. It’s just amazing. I’m almost a little bit speechless. As to how I feel about winning
this race, I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I have to thank a couple of people, one is the AMA Pro officials for letting us restart the race. I know there was some question about it, and then we were given the go-ahead, so I want to thank them for that, and then of course my crew. It’s just unbelievable—I watched that bike go back together in 20 minutes.”
“We got in and out of the pits pretty quick on the one pitstop we had, then the red flag came out and it just kind of changed the whole ballgame, because once they said it was going to be a sprint race, I knew what I had to do—and there was no being conservative, that’s for sure,” West said. “I just wanted to get out front because there are so many guys in our class who can win it. I saw the white flag, came around the outside of everybody in Turn 1, and then Westby and Jason came by me going really fast on the brakes—a little too fast, so I checked up and then squeaked back under them. I know you’re not supposed to lead out here, but I saw one lapper I thought I could catch a tow off. Jason dropped low and caught me off guard a little bit…. Maybe I could have won it, but I’m just glad I kept my nose clean and brought it home. Man that was fun, getting second in the 200.”
Zemke earned third across the line just 0.125 seconds back, with Beach and Herrin rounding out the top-five finishers.
“To come back third was the best we could do,” said Zemke. “My hat’s off to these guys; they rode a great race. One time I got shuffled back to fourth or fifth and I didn’t really like being back there—too much action for me. This place can bite you, and as you can see there at the finish, it bit a couple of them.”
2011 Daytona 200 Results:
1. Jason DiSalvo (Ducati)
2. Cory West (Suzuki)
3. Jake Zemke (Yamaha)
4. J.D. Beach (Kawasaki)
5. Josh Herrin (Yamaha)
Kawasaki’s J.D. Beach (#73) performed remarkably with the 19-year-old finishing just off the podium in fourth.
6. Dane Westby (Suzuki)
7. Taylor Knapp (Suzuki)
8. Tommy Aquino (Yamaha)
9. Bostjan Skubic (Yamaha)
10. Fernando Amantini (Yamaha)
11. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha)
12. Santiago Villa (Suzuki)
13. Paul Allison (Yamaha)
14. Kris Turner (Suzuki)
15. Huntley Nash (Yamaha)
2011 Daytona SportBike Championship Points:
1. Jason DiSalvo, 30
2. Cory West, 25
3. Jake Zemke, 23
4. J.D. Beach, 18
5. Josh Herrin, 16
6. Dane Westby, 15
7. Taylor Knapp, 14
8. Tommy Aquino, 13
9. Fernando Amantini, 12
10. Cameron Beaubier, 11