GEICO Motorcycle Pro Rapp to start Daytona 200 on third row

NEWS March 14, 2013

Courtesy of Geiger Media, on behalf of GEICO Motorcycle Road Racing:

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 15) - Thanks to being in the right place at the right time, Steve Rapp will be starting Sunday's Daytona 200 in the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike series aboard the GEICO Motorcycle Honda instead of working at his day job as a commercial pilot.

"I've got a nice boss who let me off tomorrow so I could race Daytona again," Rapp said.

Rapp will be filling in for Dane Westby, who suffered injuries during a practice crash on Thursday and wasn't cleared to continue this weekend. With just morning practice and Saturday's qualifying session to dial in the bike, Rapp successfully earned the 11th on the grid with a best lap of one minute, 53.087 seconds.

Steve Rapp
"We were a draft way from the front row," Rapp said.
"I really like the Honda. They did a good job developing it. The motor feels fast. Everything about the bike feels easy. What I need to do now is focus on getting it set up to fit my style rather than Dane's, which is normal in a situation like this."

Towards the end of qualifying, Rapp entered pit row so the team could put fresh tires on the bike. He was ready to make some qualifying laps in the draft, but another rider oiled a large portion of the front-stretch, ending the session five minutes early.

"We're going to look at the data hard overnight," Rapp said. "We've got the warm-up session tomorrow morning to dial the bike in a little better for me."

Like with its NASCAR counterparts, where you begin the Daytona 200 doesn't matter near as much as how well you race in the draft.

"Once it starts, you never know," Rapp said. "I can tell you that 57 laps is a long time. A lot can happen. I feel great and the bike is easy to ride. The guys on this team have done pit stops for 20 years, so I know we've got that part of it covered. That's what you need to win -- a good bike and a good team behind you.

"Tomorrow in the warm-up I want to go out and draft with the top five guys and see where I am gaining and losing time. I'll fine-tune my riding from there."

When Rapp won the Daytona 200 in 2007, he came from ninth place at the start to get the win, so he knows the strategy it takes to get to the front.

"I started third row in that race and had dislocated my shoulder two weeks before we got here but we still got the win," Rapp said. "I'm feeling way better than that this time so I'm optimistic."

The warm-up for the GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing series' GoPro Daytona SportBike Daytona 200 gets under way at 9:15 a.m. Saturday from Daytona International Speedway. The main event will take the green flag at 1 p.m. and be broadcast live on SPEED TV.

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