The Parts Unlimited Ducati Austin team will kick off their 2005 AMA Superbike campaign this week at Daytona International Speedway in Saturday's Superbike race. The team's riders, Neil Hodgson and Eric Bostrom, look to keep up their testing momentum and make their mark early in the 2005 campaign at Daytona on board their factory Ducati 999s.
Hodgson, a resident of the Isle of Man, raced at the Speedway in the early '90s but this event marks his first as a full-time AMA racer. In winter testing leading up to this event, Neil was the fastest rider at Laguna Seca and was very quick at the Daytona test. "Things are going very well at the moment," said the 2003 World Superbike champion. "I was able to test three times -- two in the States -- this off-season and everything has been very promising. I like the way the Ducati 999 is handling and making power. I'm looking forward to racing in America against some very tough competition this year."
For Bostrom, 2005 will serve as a comeback year after a shoulder injury ended his 2004 season early. Eric won pole for last year's prestigious Daytona race. "We're still trying to gel, but when the green flag drops, it's on," said Bostrom. "I'd love to win this race for Ducati and myself. I won pole last year and ran strong in the race, so we know it's possible. The weather wasn't too kind to us at our last test and we could have used every possible lap. The shoulder feels strong and I'm looking forward to getting more time on the bike."
"The team is looking forward to getting the season underway," said team manager Tom Bodenbach. "Our two tests were productive, although we would have liked better weather for the Laguna Seca test. We feel good about how our test went at Daytona, though, and hope we can make the positive things that happened at the January test continue into the first race weekend of the year. The team has been working very hard preparing for Daytona and it will be exciting working with Neil and Eric this season," he concluded.
The Daytona International Speedway circuit located on the eastern coast of Florida has been hosting motorcycle events since the 1960s when the historic race moved to the track from a combination road/beach course. Known for the high-speed drafting battles, the banked turns of the Speedway (which reach 31 degrees) have seen many exciting Superbike races over the years. A challenging series of infield turns counter the demands of the banking and make bike setup a tough compromise for the AMA riders and teams.
For this season, a new track layout will debut. A new infield section replaces part of the banking, shortening the lap distance from 3.56 miles (5.7 kilometers) to 2.95 miles (4.7 kilometers). While Parts Unlimited Ducati Austin's Eric Bostrom holds the current track record of 1:46.835 on the old course, a new track record will come from this year's qualifying. Now that the flagship 200 Mile race is only run to Formula Extreme and Supersport format following a change in regulations by promoting body AMA, the Daytona Superbike race this Saturday will be held over 15 laps.