ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (May 31) – GEICO Motorcycle Honda rider Dane Westby shook off the rust from weeks of inactivity on Friday to claim a spot on the provisional front row in the GoPro Daytona SportBike class at the Subway SuperBike Doubleheader at Road America.
Westby missed the first race of the GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Series and weeks of training while recovering from a spleen injury. He admitted it was more intimidating than he first realized to get back on the bike.
“Most of the day I was running at amateur pace,” Westby said. “It seemed so fast. I was just kind of scared of the bike after that get-off at Daytona.”
For much of the 50-minute qualifying session, Westby was running in the seventh qualifying position. The GEICO team brought him in to tweak the bike, and Westby improved his time but only in fractions of a second and not enough to climb out of seventh.
“I was kind of scared to stick the front into the corners,” he said. “I just had to get comfortable with the bike again.”
Westby was brought in a second time with about 10 minutes left in the session for fresh tires, an air-pressure adjustment, and some motivational words. “With the lower pressure in the front I could feel the bike better,” Westby said. “It was a bunch of little things we did to get my confidence back up. Most of the two seconds we gained was in my head. “I flipped my performance level from way low to up high. I’m not sure how it happened but it worked.”
With his confidence renewed, Westby turned a lap of 2 minutes, 21.659 seconds to jump to the third position on the provisional grid. Cameron Beaubier is the provisional pole sitter with a lap of 2:19.908.
“They guys were like, ‘We need this,’ ” Westby said. “I don’t like to hear that I’m not going fast enough – nobody does. It was necessary. “Those little things really did it for me. I had to be friendly with the bike again. My GEICO Motorcycle Honda and I had to come to an understanding.”
Westby has one more opportunity to put the GEICO Motorcycle Honda on the pole when qualifying resumes at 8 a.m. CDT on Saturday. The first Daytona SportBike race rolls off at 1 p.m. on Saturday and the second race of the doubleheader at 1 p.m. on Sunday. CBS Sports Network will broadcast the races at 2:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday.