Knapp Scores First Career Daytona SportBike Superpole

NEWS August 14, 2009


Knapp Scores First Career Daytona SportBike Superpole

ALTON, Va. (August 14, 2009) - An AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL Superpole qualifying session that was as notable for those who were not in it as the 10 riders who were saw Taylor Knapp (No. 54 Latus Motors Racing Buell 1125R) break through for his first career top qualifying effort.  Knapp clocked in with a lap time of 1:28.233 (92.210 mph) and will share the two-rider front row with Jake Zemke (No. 1x Erion Racing Honda CBR600RR) who lapped at 1:28.663 (91.764 mph) Friday at the 10th Anniversary Suzuki Big Kahuna Nationals at Virginia International Raceway.

"It's not only my first pole, but the first time I've ever been in a press conference," said Knapp, who finished a career-high fifth in the Sunday American Superbike final at the Tornado Nationals on the No. 44 Taylor Knapp Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000.  "It's really cool. I had a little spin coming out of Turn 2 or 3, the left hander, the track crowns off on the edge and I got a little wide.  It spun up and I bounced off the curb and I didn't know if that was going to hurt me too much.  I just kept stringing the lap together the best I could and ended up on top.  Totally cool, I'm looking forward to the races."

Zemke joined teammate Chris Peris (No. 10 Erion Racing Honda CBR600RR) in giving Erion Honda its best starting positions as a team this year. 

"I actually messed up the lap right at the very beginning going into Turn 1," Zemke said.  "I went in there and my foot slipped off the shifter.  I was thinking, 'I don't think that thing went into gear.'  I hit the shifter again and it went into gear, but it was the wrong one.  It was first gear.  I lost a ton of time in the first segment.  I just kept my head down and got through the rest of the lap and it turned out okay for us.  Congratulations to Taylor on his first pole and it should be a good race tomorrow."

Peris qualified third at 1:28.676 (91.764 mph) and was the only 2009 race winner participating in Daytona SportBike Superpole Friday.

"My lap was basically the same as I did in practice this morning," said Peris, who won the Saturday final at Road America in June.  "It was nothing too hairball.  Nothing really out of the ordinary, but I wasn't expecting to move up this far.  Everyone went a little bit slower so maybe it was a little bit better.  The bike's working awesome, the team's been great.  It just all worked out."

Roger Hayden (No. 95 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R) was also in season-best form Friday and qualified fourth at 1:28.682 (91.743 mph).
 
"The bike is definitely working pretty good this weekend," Hayden said.  "My lap was okay. When I came across the start-finish line I didn't expect it to be a 28.7, I felt like I left a lot of time out there.  I think it's going to be a good race.  We've been going pretty good all weekend, we just have to get a little bit better.  I'm looking forward to it.  I'm definitely a lot closer to the front than I've been all year.  It makes the race weekend a lot more fun."
 
Notable by their Superpole absence were Daytona SportBike championship leaders Danny Eslick (No. 9 GEICO Powersports/RMR Buell 1125R) and Martin Cardenas (No. 36 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600).  Eslick laid the bike down in the downhill section during the group session and qualified 12th, missing the Superpole round, while Cardenas suffered a lowside incident in morning practice that resulted in a fractured right hand.  After receiving medical treatment onsite at VIR, Cardenas rallied to participate in group qualifying and did well to clock in 13th quickest.
 
"I broke a bone in my hand," said Cardenas, who crashed in the downhill run at Turn 15. "I made a mistake and hit a curb going downhill.  It was a big mistake, I crashed and I hurt my hand.  Off the bike, it feels okay and if I don't move the hand, it doesn't hurt.  On the bike the hardest thing is changing direction, and a little bit under braking, especially turning to the right side.  I will just try to deal with it, race tomorrow and do a good job.  There is not much you can do, only put ice on it.  That's it, I think."
 
Also enduring a tough day was Daytona SportBike Superpole leader Jason DiSalvo (No. 40 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600) who was uninjured when he went off course during his Superpole run.  DiSalvo, who has a class-leading five Superpoles in 2009, will start ninth on the grid in this weekend's dual races.  Chaz Davies (No. 57 Factory Aprilia Millennium Technologies Team Aprilia RSV1000R) , who struggled with mechanical problems in the morning practice session and Superpole run, will start 10th. 
 
Josh Herrin (No. 8 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6) rounded out the Daytona SportBike top five qualifiers.
 
Saturday's first Daytona SportBike race of the weekend is scheduled to start at 4:10 p.m. local time for 23 laps/50 miles.  The Big Kahuna races will be featured in a pair of same-day telecasts on SPEED.  Saturday's American Superbike and Daytona SportBike finals will be shown that night in a two-hour show at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT) while Sunday's premier class races and other highlights will air in a two-hour show that evening at Midnight ET (9 p.m. PT).

Click here for the American Superbike Qualifying story.

SuperSport Practice Day
 
Josh Day (No. 4 Team E.S.P. Yamaha YZF-R6) could clinch the AMA Pro SuperSport presented by Shoei East division title this weekend and was the fastest rider in Friday's opening practice.  Day, who won the races at Topeka and Mid-Ohio, turned a top lap time of 1:29.707 (90.695 mph).
 
"We ended up fastest and we still have some work to do on the front end, but I was pretty happy with that time," Day said.  "The E.S.P. guys have been working really hard and we have just been able to carry the setup that we found since Mid-Ohio and it has pretty much worked at every racetrack so far.  We have just had to change and fine tune a few things.  I am really not thinking about the championship, and trying not to.  I don't want it to mess me up and I am just going to come out here and try and do my best and just try to stay on top." 
 
Day has a 45-point lead over Leandro Mercado (No. 92 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R), 126 - 81. That equates to more than a full-race lead and guarantees he will leave the Big Kahuna on top of the standings even if he fails to clinch the crown.  Even if Mercado scores all 32 available points at VIR, Day only needs to finish third or better to leave Virginia with the East title.  Mercado was 10th fastest Friday.
 
Sunday's SuperSport final is18-laps for 40 miles and is scheduled to start at 3:10 p.m.
 
Westby Rolls In SunTrust Moto-GT Qualifying
 
Westby Racing riders Dane Westby and Dustin Meador (No. 13 Westby Racing Yamaha YZF-R6) continued their roll in AMA Pro SunTrust Moto-GT and won the pole for tomorrow's two-hour team race at 11 a.m.  Meador turned a quick lap of 1:31.439 (88.977 mph) to qualify first overall and in the GT1 class.
 
"This is a good team," Meador said.  "We are just going to keep working hard and racing har

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