Parts Unlimited Ducati Austin riders Neil Hodgson and Eric Bostrom completed three promising days of testing with their Ducati 999s at the Daytona International Speedway on Wednesday. The duo began preparations for the 2005 AMA Superbike campaign which is scheduled to begin at Daytona in March.
Both riders recorded impressive top speeds on the recently revised 3.0 mile (4.8 km) circuit. Hodgson's Ducati 999 was the fastest bike at the test, having motored through the speed trap at 194.635 mph according to the AMA's timing equipment.
Neil was particularly impressive in his first US test as an AMA Superbike regular, the British rider turning in a positive 1m40.711s on the final day, which was good enough for third quickest overall. The former World Superbike champion got up to speed on the unique Daytona speed bowl best known for its fearsome banked sections.
"It's really good to be here. I love Daytona and its history and I like racing on classic circuits like this," said the 31-year old Isle of Man resident. "It was a bit of an eye-opener, coming here. It looks a lot easier on television, that's all I can say -- you know, (with) the banking and everything. But it's exciting!"
"It was going really well working with Neil. He gave us a good direction with the bike and his lap times continued to drop after the riders lapped enough to clean off the circuit and give more grip," said Parts Unlimited Ducati Austin race engineer Luca Ferraccioli.
Eric Bostrom turned in a best lap of 1m41.1s late on Wednesday, although the lap was credited to his teammate on the AMA's timing monitors. His lap time was good for fifth quickest over the course of the three-day test.
Bostrom, who set pole and was a contender for the win in last year's 200-mile race at the Speedway, saw his lap times remarkably drop by over a second in the morning session on Wednesday. In the afternoon, Eric rode Neil's 999 to set his quickest time of the day as he continued to improve.
"I'm happy with the way things are going. It was definitely a good test for us. The Dunlop tires were good, I'm still learning the front and I'm still looking for one more second," said Eric. "The new suspension link we tried seemed to really help on the banking and my confidence is just getting better with each lap."
Eric continued: "We learned some things when I rode Neil's bike. His settings did some things a little better than mine and we'll have to see if that can translate to my set-up or not. I think there's a lot to learn from having a teammate and I look forward to it this year."
"I think it was very positive," said chief mechanic Gary Medley of the test. "We got a lot of information from Eric over the three days and the team worked well together. With a few more tests, we will be ready for the season."
The Parts Unlimited Ducati Austin team will test again this spring before the 2005 AMA championship begins at Daytona on March 13th.