Team Hammer, racing as Team M4 Suzuki, has signed Dane Westby to compete in Daytona SportBike in 2011.
With 2010 AMA Pro Daytona SportBike Champion Martin Cardenas moving to the Superbike class with M4 Suzuki for 2011, Westby will pilot the team’s Suzuki GSX-R600 as the team defends its title.
“I’m really looking forward to the Daytona test and getting to ride the Team M4 Suzuki. I’m really excited for the new year and this deal coming together is great. My goal is to make 2011 the Year of The Wolverine,” said Westby, referring to his nickname. “Team Hammer and (team owner) John Ulrich have been in the racing game for a long time and they know what is needed to put a competitive team out there. They won the championship last year and that speaks for itself. They were already there and getting the job done when I raced my first AMA Pro event, and that means a lot to me, as does their endurance racing success. Suzuki has a new model for 2011 that is lighter and stronger and that is another positive.”
Westby, 23 years old, had a breakthrough 2010 which saw him fight for the win in the Daytona 200 before earning his first AMA Pro Daytona SportBike podium and finishing second. The Oklahoman led the season finale in Alabama as well, earning the lap leader bonus point en route to a third-place finish. Westby also earned the podium at California Speedway, Infineon Raceway, and New Jersey Motorsports Park. He finished fifth in the season’s point standings.
“The 2010 season was a big improvement for me as I was able to run up front and learn what it takes to stay up there. That time at the front is precious and there’s no substitute for it,” Westby continued. “This year, our goal is to win the championship and the way to do that is to stay in the top five and win when you can. I’m gonna take it race-by-race and the first one up is Daytona. I got a nice trophy for second place in the Daytona 200 last year but we’ll be looking to improve one position on that and to start the season off the right way.”
“We’re looking forward to having Dane on our bike this year,” said Crew Chief Keith Perry. “We’ve seen how he’s come on in the last year and even before. He has the ability to run up front and our goal is to have him up there every week. As a team, we have a lot of experience with the 600cc Suzuki and our goal is to use that to help Dane continue his improvement. It was great that he was available and we were able to put a deal together with him.”
With Westby in the Daytona SportBike class, Martin Cardenas will join Chris Ulrich in AMA Pro American Superbike. The rapid Colombian’s presence in Superbike is sure to boost the series’ excitement level.
“Naturally, we’re really looking forward to having Martin on the Superbike as well,” Perry continued. “We think he’s one of the very top talents in the paddock and we’re anxious to see him on our big bike. Sure, there will be a transition period but when we first saw Martin in AMA Pro he was racing a 1000; we know him well and we’re supremely confident in him and what he can do. As a team, our challenge is to give him the equipment he needs to compete.”