DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 13) — Action at the 73rd annual Daytona 200 kicked off Thursday, and GEICO Motorcycle Honda SuperBike rider Chris Ulrich couldn’t be more excited to be running on the high banks of Daytona International Speedway.
“We had a really positive day,” Ulrich said. “Last year was definitely a big challenge for us, but this season has started off well, at least through the first day. I’m already faster than I was when I qualified here in 2013, and we have some more improvements to make for tomorrow, so the mood is very high at the moment.
“I’m really looking forward to having two solid races. I’m having a lot of fun and really enjoying myself.”
Ulrich, of Lake Elsinore, Calif., was sixth-quickest in practice with a lap of 1:42.786 around the 3.5-mile, 12-turn course. He lowered that mark to 1:41.566 in the first qualifying session but slipped a few slots to ninth-quickest overall.
“It’s really quite enjoyable to be competitive and hopefully competing for top-10 finishes every race like we should be,” Ulrich said. “This is a great start for our future, overall, for both our SuperBike program and the GEICO Motorcycle road racing program. The goal is to eventually be a winning SuperBike team. The faster we get this bike developed, the faster we are going to get there and realize our dreams.”
Ulrich and the rest of the team are definitely riding a wave of confidence this weekend in Daytona and see no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
“Where we came from last year to where we are right now has been a giant leap,” Ulrich said. “I’m really pleased with the CBR1000RR and look forward to having some fun with it this season. All in all, I’m looking forward to representing GEICO Motorcycle and making the Gecko go fast.”
Ulrich’s GEICO Motorcycle Honda teammate Jake Zemke didn’t have the opening day he hoped for in the Daytona SportBike class. Battling issues in both of Thursday’s practice sessions, Zemke’s side of the GEICO Motorcycle pit is looking for more heading into Friday.
“Right now we’re about 6 mph down to the rest of the field,” Zemke said. “We have a lot of work to do to get this bike going. It’s not a normal feeling for me to see my name this far down the list, but this team is going to pull together and see what we can come up with tonight to get better. Right now we’ve got to figure out how to make this bike go a bit faster down that massive straightaway.”
Action resumes for Zemke at 8:45 a.m., Friday, with the first Daytona SportBike qualifying session. He’ll run again at 1:10 p.m.
Ulrich will have one more qualifying session at 10:35 a.m., which will set the grid for the first 15-lap SuperBike race at 4 p.m.