Beaubier was fastest in practice and notched pole position in the lead up to the race, and once the competition got started he blasted off the line but it was Desmo Veloce’s Jake Zemke who took the early lead. By Lap 2, Beaubier had moved back to the front and for the remaining 55 laps was basically untouchable. The laps prior to the first pit were heated, with seven racers contending for position, but the battle became a war of attrition as mechanical failures ended the day early for a number of riders.
2012 Daytona 200 winner, Joey Pascarella of Riders Discount Racing Triumph, had little chance to defend his title as a mechanical issue forced him to pit within the opening laps. He returned to competition, but by Lap 19 his shifter gave out and his race ended. Within the first 10 laps, Kenny Riedmann of Sturgess Cycle Triumph, was forced to pull out as well after his clutch burnt out and soon after 2011 Daytona 200 winner, Jason DiSalvo, began to slow and pitted to deal with vapor lock. Soon after, DiSalvo pulled out of the race entirely as did M4 Broaster Chicken Racing’s Benny Solis.
Out front, Beaubier began to push hard, building a slight gap on the field in the lead-up to the first pit-stop. Gerloff was the first to come in on Lap 17, and two laps later Beaubier entered as well. The YES Graves crew was one of the fastest on pit road, and both riders lost little time getting new tires and fuel. Beaubier re-entered competition in fifth, but the riders ahead still had stops in their future, so when running order was re-established, he’d gained over six seconds on Gerloff.
Behind the two Yamaha riders, Fong held steady in third while RoadRace Factory’s Jake Gagne rode in fourth followed by Zemke in fifth. The gaps between riders started to stretch after the first pit, and more were affected by mechanical failures through the middle of the race. Zemke appeared to be running strong and then picked up the bike after 30 laps, taking it off track due to mechanical issues.
As the leaders approached the second pit, Beaubier had begun to lap riders and was over 14 seconds ahead of Gerloff. National Guard/Celtic Racing’s James Rispoli was running in third when he entered the pit but ran into trouble when his bike almost fell over during refueling. He was forced to wait extra, excruciating seconds for his pit crew to dry the spilled fuel and he fell back in the pack due to the wait. He recovered to seventh by the finish. Once again, the Monster Yamah Graves team got both Gerloff and Beaubier out in a flash.
“Monster Graves Yamaha gave me two awesome pit stops,” said Beaubier. “The crew did an awesome job, I barely had a gulp of water and was already jumping back on the bike.”
Gagne remained steady in fourth to the checkers, and was followed by his teammate, JD Beach in fifth. GEICO Motorcycle Road Racing’s Steve Rapp, in for injured Dane Westby, completed the 200 in sixth. During the final laps, Beaubier began approaching Rapp from behind, threatening to lap the Honda rider, but Rapp retaliated and regained his spot on the lead lap until just before the finish line, where Beaubier blew past once again. Rapp was pleased with his new Honda, coming in as the only rider in the top-six not on a Yamaha R6.
“It was a solid ride and I’m fairly pleased with the result,” Rapp said. “First race for Honda and we were the top finisher besides the Yamahas in the field, so that’s a real good start for the team. It was fun to ride the bike. It’s a nice motorcycle, for sure.
“I actually kept the same front tire on the bike the whole race and I didn’t feel like it really started working until about lap 40. That’s when I was able to pick up the pace a little and gain some positions.”
The endurance race challenged the fitness and skill of all who participated, and though Beaubier rode with seeming ease, he was no exception.
“I’m pretty tired right now, I’m just trying to soak everything in,” explained Beaubier. “I rode as hard as I could the first stint and then just tried to be super consistent. I had one little mistake and ran wide in Turn 1 and then after that I calmed down and kept clicking off lap times.”
Gerloff was elated at his finish, but conceded that his teammate rode a near flawless race.
“It was awesome being in the front group at the beginning. I tried to catch up, but I just couldn’t do it, Cameron was riding awesome today.”
Following Rapp and Rispoli, Ben Young Racing’s Ben Young took eighth while Sturgess Cycle Racing’s Elena Myers finished in ninth. MPH Racing’s Melissa Paris rounded out the top-10, falling back slightly after being hit with a ride-through penalty for having one too many crew members present during her second pit-stop.
Beaubier now leads the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike championship ahead of Gerloff, while Fong and Gagne hold to third and fourth respectively.
Daytona 200 Results 2013:
1. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha)
2. Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha)
3. Bobby Fong (Yamaha)
4. Jake Gagne (Yamaha)
5. JD Beach (Yamaha)
6. Steve Rapp (Honda)
7. James Rispoli (Suzuki)
8. Ben Young (Yamaha)
9. Elena Myers (Triumph)
10. Melissa Paris (Honda)
11. Barrett Long (Ducait)
12. Scott Ryan (Yamaha)
13. Tristan Palmer (Kawasaki)
14. Anthony Fania (Yamaha)
15. Fernando Amantini (Yamaha)
AMA Pro Daytona SportBike Points 2013:
1. Cameron Beaubier, 32
2. Garrett Gerloff, 25
3. Bobby Fong, 21
4. Jake Gagne, 18
5. JD Beach, 16
6. Steve Rapp, 15
7. James Rispoli, 14
8. Ben Young, 13
9. Elena Myers, 12
10. Melissa Paris, 11