Honda's Daytona 200 propaganda
a press release issued by Honda Racing:
American Honda 2004 Road Race Preview
After sweeping the top three spots in the 2003 running of America's most prestigious motorcycle race, the American Superbike season-opening Daytona 200, what do you do for an encore? That's the pleasant problem facing the American Honda team as they gear up to repeat their success at Daytona and for the rest of the championship, a championship that continues to grow in importance on the world stage.
"What's really exciting is that AMA road racing has moved up on the scale in the world of racing," American Honda team manager Chuck Miller said. Miller has chosen three riders for the Honda assault on the Superbike crown and has added to the arsenal with a new weapon, the all new Honda CBR1000RR, the fastest motorcycle ever to hit the high banks of Daytona International Speedway. In its very first shakedown, the CBR-1000RR, a direct and clear descendant of the MotoGP World Championship winning Honda RC211V, shocked the radar gun with a terminal velocity of 192 mph, the fastest a motorcycle's ever run at Daytona. It was done under the control of Ben Bostrom, one of the champions Honda hopes will add to their seven Superbike titles.
Bostrom, 29, the 1998 AMA Superbike Champion, is looking forward to a clean start in his second year on the American race scene after a stellar World Superbike career. The charismatic Californian was troubled with carpal tunnel syndrome for the second half of the 2003 season.
Off-season corrective surgery alleviated the problem and his return to form has Been instant. That, along with the continued tutelage of three-time World Champion Freddie Spencer, who works closely with all Honda riders, and the new Honda CBR1000RR has Bostrom looking forward to the start of the battle. The runner-up in last year's Daytona 200, Bostrom turned the fastest lap of the Daytona December test on a motorcycle still in the early stages of development. The Honda CBR1000RR that Bostrom and his teammates will race at Daytona and for the remainder of the 18-race championship season will be significantly upgraded from its initial runs, with more barriers certain to be broken.
New teammate Jake Zemke turned the fastest laps on the 3.56 mile road course in a follow-on test at Daytona a little over a month later. The former dirt-tracker Zemke, 29, will ride in the colors of Erion Honda, replacing Kurtis Roberts who used his American Honda career as a springboard to MotoGP. Though 2004 will be his first full year on a Superbike, Zemke is no stranger to four-cylinder Hondas. For the past two seasons Zemke's been the most successful pilot of the Honda CBR954RR, the precursor to the CBR1000RR, in the Formula Xtreme class. In addition to his Superbike duties, Zemke will race a Honda CBR600RR mini-Superbike in the newly formatted Formula Xtreme class. The new class allows liberal modifications of the middleweight platform, as well as including various other engine configurations.
"One thing that's exciting for us is that it allows us to begin to set the stage for where Superbike is going and test our abilities in building competitive race machines out of production bikes," American Honda team manager Chuck Miller said. "Most all of us have relied a lot on resources abroad to make our bikes competitive and in the future we may not have all those resources available to us. So what we're trying to do with this Formula Xtreme project is also to test our abilities."
Joining Zemke in Superbike and Formula Xtreme is veteran Miguel Duhamel, 35, the winningest rider in the history of the Superbike and Supersport classes. The engaging and witty French-Canadian, who Miller calls "an icon of the sport," is back for his tenth year of service with American Honda, hoping to kickstart his season the way the 2003 year began. Last year, the former Superbike and five-time Supersport champion began the season with his fourth win in the Daytona 200, running his career win total to 26, the most in the class. A win in this year's 200 would tie the mark of five set by "Mr. Daytona," Scott Russell. In Supersport, Duhamel has 41 wins, 28 more than the next active rider.
"Here we got the guy who's been there, done that, which is Ben (Bostrom), we've got Miguel (Duhamel), who can always be there and can always do that, and we've got the new up and comer Jake (Zemke), who's hungry to get there an do it and we've got a little bit of all three of the worlds best there that will work to our advantage," team manager Chuck Miller believes.
American Honda is concentrating its outside support on Erion Honda, by far the most successful satellite team in the history of AMA road racing with a record of four consecutive Formula Xtreme titles, as well as a pair of Supersport crowns. The team will feature the Gobert brothers, Alex, 20, who campaigned in the black and red of Erion Honda last year, now joined by brother Anthony, 29, whose first factory ride in his native Australia was with Honda.
"He really wanted to be back with Honda," Kevin Erion, the owner of the Erion Honda team, said of Anthony, who can expect great things if he succeeds with Erion. Among the riders who've advanced from Erion Honda to the Superbike team are 2002 AMA Superbike Champion Nicky Hayden, now with Repsol Honda; Kurtis Roberts, who won three titles with Erion Honda; and now Jake Zemke.
"There's a little bit of history that shows American Honda is willing to keep you in the family as long as the results are there," Erion said. "It wouldn't be a new step for a new rider to move from Erion Racing to American Honda. If that happens it means good things have happened." The Goberts will lead Honda's quest in the newly configured Superstock class, another class format making its debut in Florida. The 2004 rules allow lightly modified 1000cc inline four-cylinders, the perfect showcase for the new Honda CBR1000RR.
"We know Anthony's going to be competitive, we know the bike's going to be competitive, we're expecting big things from him," Chuck Miller concludes.