Cypress, Calif. – The “March” To the Championships begins in earnest for Yamaha this week when the big-blue transporters filled with bikes, hopes, and dreams descend upon the Crucible of Speed that is Daytona International Speedway.
With 18 Daytona 200 wins to its credit--including an unprecedented, unbeaten string of 13 Daytona 200 victories in a row--the High Banks of Daytona have been good to Yamaha. So good that, among many fans, Daytona is better known as “Yamaha Beach”.
The landscape at Yamaha Beach has dramatically changed since last year, with new racing classes, a different schedule of events, and the Daytona 200 being run for the first time under the lights. And, for Yamaha, much has changed as well--with new riders, new bikes, and a renewed enthusiasm permeating every fiber of the team.
The Road Racers.
For the Yamaha Factory Racing Team, Ben Bostrom, the 2008 AMA Supersport Champion, is back on “the big bike” for this season on the all-new YZF-R1, and he’s joined by seasoned veteran Josh Hayes. It’s an understatement to say that Ben and Josh know their way around the Daytona road course. Both riders will be competing in the brand-new American Superbike class, as well as the equally new Daytona SportBike class. Daytona SportBike is the basis for the Daytona 200 that will be held for the first time in prime time under the lights this Friday night.
For the Graves Motorsports Racing Team, 18-year-old Josh Herrin returns, and he’ll be focused on Daytona SportBike exclusively. Still young, but possessing a level of race craft beyond his years, Josh is a multi-time race winner on the Yamaha YZF-R6. This year, he’s joined by new recruit Tommy Aquino who, at only 16, has already logged a lot of seat time. Together, Herrin and Aquino will be taking Bostrom and Hayes to task in the Daytona 200, with all four riders aboard YZF-R6s for the premier--and premiere--nighttime event. Look for their competition numbers--1, 4, 6, and 8 for Bostrom, Hayes, Herrin, and Aquino, respectively--on the grid and on the High Banks.
The Road Racing Machines.
For the 2009, the all-new, technologically advanced Yamaha YZF-R1 will debut at Daytona. Infused with MotoGP® technology, this year, the R1 is the first-ever production-class motorcycle with cross plane crankshaft technology pioneered in the MotoGP title-winning YZR-M1.
Light, powerful, and bristling with championship-winning development, the YZF-R6 is the most advanced production 600cc motorcycle Yamaha--or anyone else--has ever built.
Together, the R1 and R6 represent a stable of race bikes that, when prepped by the expert crews at Yamaha Factory Racing and Graves Motorsports, will put up a challenge unmatched by any other manufacturer competing in organized U.S. road racing.
Supercross at Daytona is a special event, with the course built front and center inside the famed tri-oval. This year, the Daytona Supercross will be held on Saturday night, with Factory Yamaha riders Broc Hepler and Josh Hill, L&M Racing’s and current points co-leader James Stewart and his teammate Kyle Chisholm, Joe Gibbs’ Racing’s Josh Grant and Cody Cooper, as well as Star Racing’s Factory Lites riders Matt Lemoine and Darryn Durham set to compete.
The Don’t-Miss Events.
Off the track, Big Blue will storm Daytona Beach with displays and demos of Yamaha sport bikes and street bikes, including the all-new R1; and Star cruisers, including the all-powerful VMAX. It’s your chance to get up-close and personal with the 2009 models.
To take a demo ride on the R1, VMAX, or any of the other 2009 Yamahas available, you need a valid motorcycle license (permits are not allowed), a DOT-approved helmet, long pants, enclosed shoes, a shirt, and eye protection.
An additional Yamaha Beach activity will include an include an autograph session with the road racing team this Friday from 10 to 11 AM at the Yamaha display at the track.