M4 Broaster Chicken Suzuki’s Dane Westby put on a magnificent performance to claim a clutch final-lap victory in Saturday’s AMA Pro Daytona SportBike shootout at Mid-Ohio.
Launching from the front row of the grid after qualifying third earlier in the day, Westby stormed to the holeshot, a just reward for his recent efforts to improve his starting skills. In the mix from the very start, Westby leveraged his Mid-Ohio mastery to factor heavily at the front throughout the tense contest.
A nine-rider lead pack whittled down to a three-man breakaway, which later developed into a head-to-head duel for the win between Westby and GEICO Suzuki’s superstar ace, Martin Cardenas.
The two traded the lead back and forth on the race’s thrilling last lap, with ‘the Wolverine’ slicing up the inside only to see Cardenas square him up and immediately retake the lead. Unwilling to accept defeat at the scene of his first SportBike victory scored one year ago, Westby made one final strike, finding a small area of daylight and sneaking his Suzuki GSX-R600 up the inside of Cardenas as they raced into the Carousel side-by-side for the final time.
Westby held on and edged Cardenas at the finish line by 0.223-second.
“To be one year out and do the same thing is really cool,” Westby said. “It was a real barn-burner of a race. We were right there until the last second. Playing poker with these guys, you never know what’s going to happen until the very last card is down. That was a really good race, that’s how I’d like all races to be.”
Westby is ranked second in the SportBike title fight with 222 points on the strength of five podium finishes, highlighted by his Mid-Ohio victory.
Suzuki SportbikeTrackGear.com’s Elena Myers raced her way forward in the day’s SuperSport contest. Starting from the outside of Row 3 after qualifying 12th, Myers shot up to sixth on the race’s opening lap. She then settled into a multi-rider scrap for eighth position and narrowly took the position at the checkered flag.
M4 Broaster Chicken Suzuki’s Chris Ulrich battled in the day’s Superbike race to complete an outstanding combined effort for the team. Ulrich raced his way into the top 10 again, doggedly pursuing a rival before finally making his move on lap 17 of 21. The Californian then defended the position aboard his GSX-R1000 and finished 10th by 0.288-second.
Team Venezuela’s Robertino Pietri scratched from the weekend’s Superbike races on the advice of doctors after an MRI revealed that he had broken his left wrist in a violent crash at Road America last month. The 2006 FIM Latin American Superbike Champion sought an MRI when his wrist started feeling worse, not better as time passed. Pietri has returned to his U.S. base in Miami to seek further medical advice.
Team Hammer will be looking for more success on Sunday, the final day of the AMA Pro Road Racing doubleheader weekend at Mid-Ohio.
In 2012, Team Hammer, Inc. is competing in its 32nd consecutive racing season and marks its sixth year of offering technical and logistical support through its Contract Services Department. Riders on Team Hammer-prepared racebikes have earned 53 AMA Pro National race wins; 121 AMA Pro National podium finishes; 4 AMA Pro Championships; 133 Overall National Endurance race wins; 13 National Endurance Championships and assorted other race wins and titles.