After ten years of riding Hondas, Jake Zemke switched to Suzuki with immediate success.
The former Daytona 200 winner gave basketball hall of famer Michael Jordan his first Superbike victory by beating Tommy Hayden (Suzuki) in Thursday’s race by 0.258s, with the top five covered by 0.307s.
Friday’s race was even better. Zemke denied Hayden his first ever Superbike victory by a scant 0.009s by using the famous Daytona draft to pass him within metres of the finish line.
“I think for everybody here, when you’re sitting at home all winter long, this is what you’re thinking about – coming out of here with two wins,” Zemke said.
The next day Yamaha took their second Daytona 200 in row when Josh Herrin won with the fastest time since the 200 became a middleweight event in 2005.
Privateer Yamaha rider Dane Westby was second.
“I just kept putting in the laps and trying to push as hard as I could just to keep (Westby) back and make it as easy as possible at the end and it all paid off,” said Herrin, who finished second by half a second to Ben Bostrom in last year’s Daytona 200.
Former GP star John Hopkins had a disastrous return to the series he left at the end of 2001.
Hopkins had a major engine failure on the first lap of the Thursday Superbike race, though he was able to ride the Monster M4 Suzuki GSX-R1000 back to the pits.
Hopkins was running well back of the lead pack in eighth when he dropped out of the second race on the seventh of 15 laps with oil seeping out of his shifter seal.