Saturday, January 15, 2005

DIS PR: Daytona Tire Test wraps up

January 05, 2005

Daytona Intl. Speedway

The three-day motorcycle tire test at historic Daytona International Speedway wrapped up on Wednesday with more than 20 riders turning laps on the new 2.95-mile road course in preparation for Daytona 200 Week on March 3-12.

The test gave riders the first opportunity to shake down the new infield motorcycle road course as well as utilize the new amenities from the multi-million, multi-faceted infield renovation.

For new Ducati Austin rider Neil Hodgson, everything at Daytona International Speedway seemed new.

"It feels so different," Hodgson said during the lunch break on Wednesday. "My bike was just a privateer Ducati. I spoke to the technicians here and they think the (1995) bike would have less power than a 600 would have now. All I remember was going around the bike comfortable and relaxed enjoying the ride. Now we you get on those beasts, it feels like warp speed."

Hodgson made his first and only visit to the "The World Center of Racing" back in 1995 when he competed in the Daytona 200 finishing 16th aboard a privateer Ducati.

Since then, Hodgson won the British Superbike championship (2000) and World Superbike championship (2003) and has now returned to America to compete in the AMA Superbike championship with Ducati Austin.

Besides breaking in the new infield motorcycle course, Hodgson also noticed all the changes in the infield such as the new garages, new Gatorade Victory Lane and Daytona 500 Club, FanZone and massive Turn 1 tunnel.

"I remember it was a bit scruffy," Hodgson said of his first visit to the track. "It looked dated 10 years ago. I'm glad they put all these new garages in for me. That's very kind. I really impressed with that."

Hodgson will compete aboard the 999 Ducati in the opening round of the AMA Superbike Championship at Daytona on Saturday, March 12 as he tries to become the first rider in history to win World, British and America championships.

He's ready for the challenges that Daytona presents.

"It's not a picnic," Hodgson said. "At this track, there's nowhere to rest. Obviously, the banking, you can't relax on it. When you come off the banking go towards to the finish line, you're going so fast and there's so much wind on you, you're just trying to hold onto the thing."

This week's test was the first with his new team. So far, Hodgson has been impressed.

"I think the team is really looking promising," Hodgson said. "They've got fantastic support from Italy. They've got some fantastic technicians here. I didn't know what to expect. This is my first test with the team and I'm pleasantly surprised. Everybody has been extremely professional. I think we've got a fair chance."

Next up at Daytona International Speedway is Rolex Sports Car Series testing in preparation for the Feb. 5-6 Rolex 24 At Daytona. Testing is free and open to the public with access to the Oldfield Grandstand through the lobby of DAYTONA USA.
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