MONTEREY, CA (July 24, 2011) – When the AMA Pro Daytona SportBIke light went green at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Team Latus Motors Racing’s Jason DiSalvo seemed on a mission to obliterate all memory of recent lackluster results. But while the Ducati rider held the front-runner position through the majority of the Sunday race, it was GEICO Powersports RMR Suzuki’s Danny Eslick who blazed through a red-flag-strewn event to take ultimate victory.
“I got off to a little bit of a rough start,” said Eslick. “For some reason it took me a few laps to get in a good rhythm and start hitting my marks. But being basically a fifteen-lap sprint race [after the restart], we didn’t have much time to mess around – I had to get up there and get up to speed. Race wins definitely help the championship … and this place has a special spot in the motorcycle world, so it’s pretty neat.”
Eslick’s fortunes proved vastly different from Monster Energy Graves Yamaha pilot Josh Herrin’s, who was running a very aggressive chase from second before being forced to retire mid-race with a smoking bike. The resulting loss of points will be enough to crush the Yamaha rider’s championship hopes, as there remains but one double-header round at which to strike back.
DiSalvo, having earned the pole position in Saturday qualifying, sliced past Herrin off the line for the first start to claim the lead heading into Turn 1. With a red flag throw moments later, as Jake Holden (JHR/RidersDiscount.com) and Paul Allison (Triple Crown Industries) went down in Turn 2, the twenty-rider field again prepared to launch from the three-rider-wide, MotoGP-style grid. Dominating the restart, DiSalvo headed the field for the majority of the race, with Herrin, Eslick, and an increasingly aggressive Cameron Beaubier (JHR/RidersDiscount.com) giving chase from behind, until Herrin’s mechanical misfortune signaled a shake-up in running order.
With clear track ahead, Beaubier suddenly dove into the lead, leaving DiSalvo and Eslick to wage side-by-side pursuit just behind. Eslick wasn’t content to let the TK-year-old hold the prestigious spot for long, though, and took over the front position with just a handful of laps remaining. While Herrin was consoled by Yamaha team members on the sidelines, Eslick rode the wheels off his Suzuki to stay out of the grasp of Beaubier, while DiSalvo lost several bike-lengths to the front-runners.
Suddenly, a second red flag emerged, as TK crashed out at the top of the Corkscrew, his bike sliding down the steep feature and coming to rest in the impact zone of a lower turn. With only five laps remaining, the red flag deemed the race complete and the checkers were taken up by Eslick, who rode his victory lap primarily on one wheel and was careful to give props to young Beaubier following the race. “Hopefully he moves on pretty quick,” said Eslick, laughing, “so I don’t have to keep racing him too long,”
“At the beginning of the season, I didn’t know what I was doing with myself because the level was so much higher,” said Beaubier, who stepped up to Daytona SportBike from the Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport class for 2011. “But I kept progressing through the season, learning a little more each race from the top guys, and now I’m running with them, so it’s a really good feeling. It was a really good race – Danny made some awesome passes on me and Jason, and I made some passes earlier in the race that felt pretty good. It was great, and I’d just like to thank my whole team.”
“It’s been a while since we were on the box,” said DiSalvo, who added that had the race gone the distance, he felt he would have been able to reconcile himself with some of the places in which he struggled. “We had a rough run in the middle of the season, but we’re finally starting to come back, and I feel like I’m getting full-strength again. I’m excited about going to the next round; I want to give the guys on the Latus crew another victory to pay them back for all the hard work they’ve given me.”
Beaubier and DiSalvo, who finished second and third, respectively, were followed across the line by Tommy Aquino (Y.E.S./Pat Clark/Graves Yamaha), Cory West (Vesrah Suzuki), Dane Westby (M4 Suzuki), Kev Coghland (ADR Team 2), Taylor Knapp (Vesrah Suzuki), Fernando Amantini (Team Amantini), and Tyler Odom (Don Odom Racing). Celtic Racing’s PJ Jacobsen crashed out mid-race, but rose as high as fifth before doing so.
With Eslick’s victory and Herrin’s DNF, the former has extended his championship lead to 244 over 199. DiSalvo sits third with 196. The broadcast of today’s AMA Pro action airs tonight at 8 p.m. PST/11 p.m. EST on SPEED.
The AMA Pro Road Racing Championship next travels to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Red Bull Indy GP August 27-28, where the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 class will represent the series. For AMA Pro’s remaining classes, the season will culminate at New Jersey Motorsports Park September 2-4, where the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike, Daytona SportBike, and Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport East Coast Division Championships will be decided.
For Red Bull Indy GP tickets and information, visit www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com or call (800) 822-INDY. For New Jersey Motorsports Park tickets and information, visit www.njmp.com or call (856) 327-8000. To be a part of the AMA Pro Road Racing Championship, visitwww.amaproracing.com and join us on facebook.com/AMAProRoadRacing andtwitter.com/AMAProSBK.
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