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Dunlop Tire Woes Threaten Daytona 200

Will the Daytona 200, America’s most prestigious motorcycle roadracing event, survive? Should it? These are legitimate questions following the failure of the Dunlop rear tire on Jason DiSalvo’s Yamaha R1 Superstock machine, yesterday.

Indeed, Dunlop rear tires have failed spectacularly several times in the past few years, including, prior to DiSalvo’s incident, most recently, with Suzuki riders Ben Spies and Mat Mladin aboard. Spies was seriously injured when his tire failed (also at Daytona) at a reported 186 miles per hour. Mladin escaped injury.

Riders have complained about the dangers associated with racing AMA superbikes at Daytona for several years. The lack of grip, proximity of walls and, most significantly, the sustained, full-throttle high speeds are the primary concerns. Indeed, a rider spends a greater amount of time at full throttle in top gear during a lap of the Daytona Speedway than on any other motorcycle roadracing track in the world. Needless to say, this places unique stresses on motorcycle tires.

Statements made by four-time AMA Superbike champion Mat Mladin on the RoadracingWorld.com web site here indicate he will not race a superbike at Daytona, again. Time will tell whether Mladin was sincere or simply caught up in the emotion surrounding DiSalvo’s spectacular crash.

Mladin indicates several other riders agree with his assessment that racing a superbike at Daytona has become a form of “Russian Roulette”. Will we see a boycott of the 200 by Mladin and others? Again, time will tell.

Both the AMA and Dunlop understand that something needs to be done to regain the confidence of the riders. The AMA and Dunlop are reportedly attempting to schedule an additional tire test at Daytona in January in this effort.