Honda Racing / IZOD IndyCar Series / RacingLine
Zemke's Win Caps Successful Bike Week for Red Riders at Daytona
Honda's formidable Motocross and Road Race teams got off to an impressive start in 2006 at Daytona as Team Honda's Jake Zemke scored his first-ever Daytona 200 win in the AMA's Formula Xtreme class, while Davi Millsaps captured the Amp'd Mobile SX Lites Supercross feature.
Millsaps got Bike Week off to a great start for Team Honda by dusting the competition in the SX Lites and giving Honda its first SX Lites triumph in Florida since 1993. The 18-year-old sensation jumped into the lead from the start and had 15 seconds on runnerup Josh Grant, on the Sobe/Samsung Mobile/Honda, at the checkered flag.
With three rounds remaining in the 16-race series, Millsaps holds a hefty 23-point lead (at 97) in the SX Lites East point standings, while Grant sits third with 69 points.
In what is considered the showcase event in American motorcycle road racing, Zemke took advantage of a rare error by teammate Miguel Duhamel to best Erion Honda's Josh Hayes by 1.5 seconds and give the Honda CBR600RRs a 1-2 sweep.
"Everybody knows about the Daytona 200," said Zemke, who has finished second and third at the event in years past. "As a kid, you always look at the Daytona 200 winners names, and it's a 'Who's Who' list. "I'm proud to put my name up there."
It appeared Zemke would play second best to Honda teammate Duhamel, who had built up a 12-second lead only to experience a frightening "high side" crash on Lap 44 of the 68-lap event. "It was a little slippery I guess, just one of those things," said Duhamel, an eight-time AMA national champion who is in his 12th consecutive year with Honda -- a span that is unmatched in modern-day motorcycle racing.
Duhamel, who was seeking a record sixth Daytona 200 victory, then proceeded to put on an incredible display of tenacity and perseverance. With his windscreen ripped away and his face shield detached on one side, Duhamel remounted his CBR600 and finished an amazing fifth, screaming around the Daytona high banks at 170-plus miles per hour with one hand holding his face shield in place.
Duhamel edged Zemke for the Xtreme title in 2005, and they'll be battling each other again during the 19-round Superbike slate.