Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki’s Steve Rapp opened his 2004 AMA Supersport campaign with a solid top-ten finish at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday. The result topped off a hectic opening to the 2004 racing season that saw the team racing first at Daytona in Formula USA competition, then the AMA series.
Rapp kept his determination through two early red flags and 31-year-old Californian ran among the lead freight train of drafting Supersport racers through mid-distance. Riding his Michelin-shod Suzuki GSX-R600, Rapp came out on top of a late two-man battle for ninth place. He took the position by less than a tenth of a second at the line of the 18-lap race.
Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki Crew Chief Keith Perry commented, “Daytona was a success considering we’ve had very little time with the bikes. We came in expecting a lot more, but now we’ll move onto tracks that should be better for our bikes and tires, and we’ll aim for even better results.”
Rapp’s teammate, young Canadian Chris Peris, made a favorable impression early during the 18-lap Supersport race. He picked up seven positions over the opening third of the event and slotted in one position behind Rapp. Unfortunately, Peris crashed while in 12th place on lap 8.
“Chris got a little over exuberant in the ‘Dog Leg’ and pushed the front. He has a lot of talent. Now he just needs to work on his self-control and ride within himself,” said the team’s Crew Chief Perry.
“The weekend as a whole has been pretty good, but we have higher expectations. We’re not satisfied, but we learned a lot this weekend and will progress from here,” Perry said.
The team will next head to Barber Motorsports Park for a two-day test on March 18-19 before heading to California Speedway on April 2-4 for the second round of the AMA season.