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MotoAmerica: Daytona 200 brings international riders to Florida

With 52 riders from 16 countries entered in the 81st running of the Daytona 200, the race is truly back to where it once was as far as international riders choosing to start their racing seasons in Florida.

MotoAmerica season kicks off in Daytona
Brandon Paasch and Josh Hayes have won three Daytona 200s between them and are two of the favorites for the 81st running of the race on March 11. (Photo by Brian J. Nelson)

The list of favorites is plentiful, but it begins as it should with two-time defending Daytona 200 Champion Brandon Paasch and his TOBC Racing Triumph Street Triple RS, the same bike he raced to victory last year. A victory in this year’s 200 would make Paasch the first rider in history to win three Daytona 200s in a row.

Four-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes was fourth in last year’s 200 and just .126 of a second from victory (Yes, the top four were separated by just .126 of a second!), so you know the bitter taste of defeat still lingers with Hayes. Now he’s back for more on the same Squid Hunter Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 and searching for his first Daytona 200 victory.

The 52 riders attempting to qualify for the 81st Daytona 200 will do so on six brands of motorcycles: Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Ducati, Triumph and MV Agusta.

Support races:

Last year’s debut of the Mission King Of The Baggers on the high banks of Daytona International Speedway set the tone for what was an exciting season of Baggers racing with the title chase going down to the very last round.

The 2023 MotoAmerica REV’IT! Twins Cup Championship will get rolling with two races set for the Speedway. Last year Blake Davis started his championship-winning season with a victory in race one at Daytona, with the N2 Racing/BobbleHeadMoto-backed Virginian topping Teagg Hobbs by a scant .065 of a second.

Last year the Mission Super Hooligan National Championship consisted of one race at Daytona International Speedway. This year there will be two.

Fun Facts:

Yamaha is the winningest brand by far in the Daytona 200, with 27 trips to the top step in Victory Lane since the first-ever Daytona 200 was held in January of 1937 on the old beach circuit. The winner of that first Daytona 200 was Ed Kretz, who was riding an Indian.

Harley-Davidson sits second on the-all time manufacturer win list in the 200 with 16 victories, the last of which was Cal Rayborn’s victory in 1969. The third-highest win total goes to Honda with 11 victories in the 200, with Jake Zemke the last rider to win the race on a Honda in 2006.

Brandon Paasch’s second consecutive victory in 2022 was Triumph’s fifth in the Daytona 200.

The first Daytona 200 to be run at Daytona International Speedway was in 1961 with Roger Reiman taking victory on his Harley-Davidson.

The Daytona 200 switched to Superbikes in 1985 with Freddie Spencer winning his one and only Daytona 200 on a Honda. Superbikes were featured in the 200 until 2005 when 600cc Formula Xtreme bikes took over. The FX class ran in the 200 until 600cc Daytona SportBikes were used beginning in 2009 with Ben Bostrom’s victory on a Yamaha YZF-R6.

This year’s 200 will mark the beginning of MotoAmerica’s second season of using the FIM’s “Supersport Next Generation” rules, with the class featuring Yamaha’s YZF-R6, Ducati’s Panigale V2, Suzuki’s GSX-R750 and GSX-R600, Kawasaki’s ZX-6R, Triumph’s Speed Triple RS and, new for 2023, MV Agusta’s F3RR.

Yamaha again leads the way in manufacturer representation in the Daytona 200, with 25 of the 52 riders entered on Yamaha YZF-Rs. Kawasaki and Suzuki both have nine bikes entered with Ducati fielding nine of its Panigale V2s. There will be two Triumph Street Triple RSs in the race and the lone MV Agusta.

Three former winners of the Daytona 200 will line up for this year’s race with four-time victor Danny Eslick leading the win list over two-time winner Brandon Paasch and one-time winner Josh Herrin. A victory by Eslick in this year’s race would give him five Daytona 200 wins and that would tie him with Scott “Mr. Daytona” Russell and Miguel Duhamel. Russell, incidentally, will be a spectator at Daytona, camping out with family and friends in the infield.

All five of Russell’s wins (1992, 1994, 1995, 1997 and 1998) in the Daytona 200 came when the class featured Superbikes; Miguel Duhamel won four 200s on Superbikes (’91, ‘96, ’99, 2003) and one on a 600cc Formula Xtreme bike (2005). Eslick’s four wins all came in the 600cc Daytona SportBike/Supersport era.

Welshman Davies is the last non-American to win the Daytona 200, with Americans winning 65 of the 80 Daytona 200s.

With America leading the way in victories (65) in the Daytona 200, Canada is second with five wins – all thanks to five-time winner Miguel Duhamel. Australia is third on the list with three wins and, again, it was one rider who won the races – Mat Mladin.

Finland (Jarno Saarinen), Italy (Giacomo Agostini), Venezuela (Johnny Cecotto), France (Patrick Pons), New Zealand (Graeme Crosby) and Great Britain (Chaz Davies) all have one win apiece in the 200 and are the other foreigners to win the race.

Thirty-eight riders have entered the REV’IT! Twins Cup races for Daytona with four manufacturers represented: Yamaha, Aprilia, Suzuki, and Kawasaki.

How to watch:

Daytona MotoAmerica races and live coverage begins Thurs, March 9.

Source: MotoAmerica

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