- Polesitter Trying to Become 2nd French Rider to Win Famed Event
- Defending and 3-Time Champion Danny Eslick Qualifies 4th
- 77th DAYTONA 200 on Saturday at 1 p. m.
Valentin Debise took the pole position for the 77th DAYTONA 200 motorcycle road race on Friday at Daytona International Speedway, posting a fast lap of 116.313 mph on the No. 53 M4 Ecstar Suzuki GSXR 600.
On Saturday, Debise – a native of France now living in Lake Elsinore, California – will seek to become the second French rider to win the DAYTONA 200. Patrick Pons (1980) is the race’s only French champion.
Debise posted the pole-winning speed during the third and final qualifying session on Friday on the 3.51-mile DIS road course. Qualifying second was 2016 champion Michael Barnes (Yamaha R6 600) of Boca Raton, Florida, at 115.860. Third-fastest was Geoff May (Yamaha R6 600) of Sugar Mill, Georgia at 115.336.
Debise approached the final qualifying session as a shakedown for the race itself, rather than an all-out run for the front.
“We had some work to do for the race so instead of putting on a couple of new tires [for qualifying], we decided to go with my full tank of fuel and with my race tires,” Debise said. “So my idea was not to focus on the fast lap, but of course I was pushing [to go fast].”
Rounding out the front row was defending and three-time champion (2014-15, ’17) Danny Eslick (Yamaha R6 600) of Tulsa, Oklahoma, at 115.765. Eslick is trying to become the third rider to win the DAYTONA 200 at least four times. Five-time champions Scott Russell (1992, ’94-95, ’97-98) and Miguel Duhamel (1991, ’96, ’99, 2003, ’05) share the all-time record for DAYTONA 200 championships.
In Friday’s first qualifying session, James Barry (Yamaha R6 600) of Manchester, New Hampshire led with a fast lap of 102.815 mph. The second session was topped by Jason Farrell (Kawasaki ZX6R 636) of Oshkosh, Wisconsin), at 115.716.
The DAYTONA 200, which wraps up the 77th Bike Week at DAYTONA, is sanctioned by the American Sportbike Racing Association (ASRA). The event is historically intertwined with Daytona Beach’s rich racing history, dating to 1937 when it was held on the Daytona Beach-Road course that utilized both the Atlantic Ocean shoreline and State Road A1A. It quickly became a companion to the course’s stock-car races that were first held in 1936. The DAYTONA 200 moved from the beach-road course to Daytona International Speedway in 1961, the facility’s third year of existence.
Tickets for the 77th annual DAYTONA 200 and all Daytona International Speedway events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat, and by downloading Daytona International Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season.