Tough Break for Westby, Villa Earns Top-Ten in New Jersey
NEWS September 4, 2011
Photo by Brian J. Nelson
Dane Westby and M4 Suzuki came within two miles of victory on Saturday at New Jersey Motorsports Park before it all unraveled in heartbreaking fashion.
Qualifying on the second row with the seventh best time, Westby came alive in the 23-lap Daytona SportBike final, knifing his way up through the field in a tight eight-rider pack for the lead.
Carving up from eighth to finally slot his GSX-R600 into positions 1-4 in the seesawing affair, Westby opened the final three laps running in first position. However, as the pack raced up on a lapped rider, the Mid-Ohio race winner was pushed out wide and tangled with the backmarker, sending him off course and ultimately on his side.
The only consolation other than Westby's terrific performance that went unrewarded was Santiago Villa's tenth-place effort in the SportBike race. The Colombian suffered a nightmarish start, dropping from 17th on the grid to outside the top 20 as the deep class of contenders assumed their positions.
Undeterred, the Colombian made a heroic charge to register one of the strongest dry race performances of his AMA Pro career.
Villa said, "I got a really terrible start and someone took my line. I had to work my way from 22nd to 12th. I made another pass at the end and, sadly, my teammate crashed and that gave me the top ten. I'll take it. I've fighting with a broken collarbone for the last couple months. I was in a lot of pain but I was riding as hard as I could and I was catching ninth place but the laps weren't quite enough.
"I finished ninth at Daytona but Daytona is an endurance race. This is my first dry sprint-race top ten. I've had a lot of elevenths, which I don't like, so I'll take it. I hope tomorrow I can get a better start and finish even higher."
Meanwhile, M4 Suzuki's Superbike struggles carried over from Friday to Saturday. Finding it difficult to rediscover his middleweight race-winning NJMP form on the more powerful GSX-R1000 Superbike, Martin Cardenas was an uncharacteristic 12th in qualifying.
He ran in 13th position in the 23-lap AMA Pro Superbike event before steadily climbing to an eventful eighth-place finish.
Chris Ulrich, still recovering from injury, finished exactly where he qualified in 19th position despite battling against an unusually deep Superbike field.
M4 Suzuki will look to close an excellent season on a high note as the 2011 AMA Pro Road Racing season concludes on Sunday at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
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