Dane Westby Looks Poised for Successfull 2014 Campaign
NEWS January 31, 2014
Photo by Yamalube/Westby Racing
Written by Evan Williams:
January 31, 2014 - AMA Pro vet Dane Westby unveiled his new team last week, Yamalube/Westby Racing. The former number two points man in AMA Pro Daytona SportBike is returning to his roots by running his own team much like when he was coming onto the racing scene.
“It’s like when we club raced, except it’s AMA Pro,” said the two-time DSB race winner. “It’s me and my dad and (team manager) Chuck (Giacchetto) and some other guys that are close to us. I’m real excited that it’s gone so well this far. We love it. The bike looks great and I think it is contagious.”
It might sound like a fun exercise, but the goal is to be up front.
“To be in contention for a win or a podium every weekend is why I am out there. I question the motive of going out there at all if that isn’t the case,” Westby said. “I gotta have a good bike and battling the guys at the front to have a good time. Racing at the front with what I think are guys with similar talent is what turns my gears.”
While, the season is yet to begin, but Yamalube/Westby racing certainly feels like a DSB contender heading in -- a good rider on his preferred brand of machine, tweaked by an AMA Pro veteran wrench in crew chief Jerry Daggett.
The effort wasn’t really on the information grid during the offseason but a lot of work was done in the team’s Atlanta shop to get a Yamaha R6 team up and running after the 2013 finale.
“I gotta throw out a big shout-out to Chuck Giacchetto. He put himself out on the line for me personally,” said Westby. “There’s others involved too and these things don’t just happen by themselves. I think that Westby Racing and Yamalube were at the right place to work together on this project but there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to actually make it happen.”
The unveil revealed a striking metallic gold bike branded in the team’s Yamalube sponsorship. “I think it’s the nicest looking race bike I have seen. I am ready to ride it and hopefully it will be the best bike I have ridden, too,” Dane said. “We were able to have our own creative deal and we wanted a wow factor. We didn’t hold back on that. That’s kind of the beauty of our team. We can do things we like. If we all go for it, then it is good, so that’s how the ‘out there’ paint scheme came to be.”
A second-generation racer, Westby said it was natural to get back to with his father Tryg, who races AMA Pro Superbike in the ‘80s, and his core group to form a team. After all, he’s been around racing and motorcycles his whole life, so he’s formed the contacts. “I don’t remember the first time I sat on one. When I was four, my dad made me ride downhill and push it back up until I got the hang of it. And I still managed to lay it down in the garage,” he said. “ My dad and I were always riding around. It was the thing for us to do and my dad was in the bike business so I grew up in a dealership. It’s definitely been a huge part of my life.”
Westby will first take on the rest of the field in March’s Daytona 200. Westby has had success at the track, finishing second in the 200 and winning an endurance race at the track. He’s also seen trouble in the form of a last-lap tumble after being hit on the banking and last year’s practice tip-over that forced him out of the race before it began.
“Daytona is not like anything else. It’s been a good track to me, some of the time,” the 26 year-old said. “It’s fun to race there in the draft with everyone. I might rather be on a designated road course but it is a good time a special race. I’m always glad to be there at a historic event and the 200 miles.”
Westby cut his teeth in endurance racing. Does that background help for the 200-miler, a race that has become more of a sprint with pit stops in the past few years?
“The endurance races aren’t quite as fast-paced. These guys are on the ball,” said the Oklahoman. “In club endurance racing, it’s a really long race. This one’s only 50 something laps. Even though it sounds like 200 miles is a lot, it goes by pretty quick. The endurance racing experience allows me to sit back and watch and gauge the traffic. It’s more general. Yes, the endurance racing definitely has had an effect on me and my career. My mind won’t let me do a bunch of stuff to make me crash. Maybe I have an endurance mindset that keeps me from pushing past the point of no return.”
Westby made an impression with his second at Daytona, but a win at Mid-Ohio was another milestone. For sure, Westby is one of the “hot streak” riders that are looking for the magic combo to let their talent shine, but he’s constantly improved his craft, too. When he found his starts lacking, he went to drag racing school to improve.
“That Mid-Ohio win, a big part of it was the start. I led that a lot,” he said. “More seat time helped and I was able to go faster and I am able to be a bit faster and go balls out. If you go all out, you don’t really have anything left to make a move. That’s key. Watching the guys and planning a move and playing your cards right it important.”
As an AMA Pro Daytona SportBike vet, Westby is constantly looking for the balance between aggressiveness and racecraft – especially on the aforementioned starts. The combo of equal bikes and young, antagonistic riders makes for a tough proposition. “It’s pretty hairy in the first couple of corners,” he said. “Sometimes it is easier to let everything shake out. You need to finish the race to win. That said, you do need to be aggressive on the start, too. Each one is different. Sometimes it is easier to let the guys fall into place and work on the guys from there. Other times you get a hole shot and do your best to keep it. It’s a strategy thing and it comes natural for me, anyway. I don’t realize I am doing it.”
Westby is at a nice point in his career. He has experience, but he’s still a racer looking to scrap with rivals.
“There’s something to be said about not thinking about it too much,” he added. “It’s nice to be in a spot where you aren’t having to locate every brake marker and it comes to you. You’re riding around with the guys battling and having fun.”
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