2022 Daytona 200 Preview

Rennie Scaysbrook | March 8, 2022

America’s premier road-race event looks set to return to its old ways in 2022 as MotoAmerica takes over the running of the Daytona 200, bringing with it some big cash and star riders.

The World Center of Racing welcomes back some of America’s finest as the Daytona 200 enters a new era under the management of MotoAmerica.

Photography by Brian J. Nelson

The Daytona 200. The name invokes images of Agostini, Roberts, Rainey, Russell and many other greats who have conquered the 31° banking nestled on the Florida coast.

As much as an arena for gladiators as it is a racetrack, Daytona International Speedway is unique in that it links America’s current generation of stars with those of the past and is a definition of American Speed for racing enthusiasts around the world.

For 2022 the 80th edition of the 200, starting at 1:00 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, March 12, it has all changed. MotoAmerica and the AMA take over the running of the great race for the first time since the former came into being as the managing organization of the American Superbike Championship in 2015. (2022 Daytona 200 weekend racing schedule)

Run under MotoAmerica’s Supersport regulations, the grid will be predominately made up from class stalwarts in the Yamaha YZF-R6, Suzuki GSX-R600 and Kawasaki ZX-6R. However, the 2022 race will also see the national debut of the Ducati Panigale V2 and Triumph Street Triple 765 RS, giving us a first glimpse of the new breed of Supersport machines that will begin to reshape the category over the coming years.

The Daytona 200 is the only MotoAmerica-sanctioned race that requires pit stops and refueling with the race distance of 200 miles spread over 57 grueling laps. The result often comes down to who’s played the slipstream game just right.

In 2021 we saw a clinic from youngster Brandon Paasch as the then 19-year-old used the slipstream like a veteran to out-drag a devastated Sean Dylan Kelly to the line to take the winner’s Daytona Rolex and the $25,000 first-place prize money.

For 2022, Paasch returns but Kelly has moved onto pastures new in the Moto2 World Championship, flying the Stars and Stripes for the American Racing Team alongside Cameron Beaubier.

The 200 is the main event, but there’s a solid undercard for the paying public to sink their teeth into before the main event. Three national championship classes will start their 2022 season at Daytona, with the Twins Cup, Mission King of The Baggers and Super Hooligan National Championship all hitting the high banks. Let’s dive into the premier players for the 2022 Daytona 200, as well as some of the favorites for the undercard.

2022 Daytona 200

The Favorites

Jake Gagne #32

Attack Performance Yamaha YZF-R6

Jake Gagne

The fact that the current MotoAmerica Superbike Champion is turning up to Daytona should emphasize just how important this race is. The last time the current AMA SBK number one did so was 2004 with Mat Mladin, the Australian also going on to win the event for a third time ahead of Jake Zemke and Miguel Duhamel.

Gagne’s 2021 season wasn’t just record breaking; it was record shattering. The man who now calls Colorado home had not won a Superbike race prior to 2021 but left the year with 16 of them, putting him tied with the late, great, Nicky Hayden on the all-time winner’s list.

With Attack Performance only running the Supersport machine for this race, Gagne’s bike will indeed be a missile and he must go into the race as a short odds favorite for the winner’s Rolex.

Josh Hayes #4

Squid Hunter Yamaha YZF-R6

Josh Hayes

The wily old fox Hayes, long since retired from MotoAmerica competition, fronts up to Daytona each year and is always at the front. At 46-years-old, the Mississippi Madman has yet to formally taste the champagne in victory lane after having his dominant win in 2008 stripped away due to a technical infringement, and he desperately wants the 200 trophy on his mantelpiece to sit alongside his four consecutive AMA Superbike title wins. Hayes’ wife, Melissa Paris Hayes, will be running the pit stops so it’ll be a family affair for the AMA Superbike legend.

Brandon Paasch #96

TOBC Racing Triumph Street Triple RS

Brandon Paasch

Current Daytona 200 Champion, Brandon Paasch, is back and on one of the new breeds of Supersport racers in the TOBC Racing Triumph Street Triple RS. Having had a season racing in the British Supersport Championship on similar machinery, he knows the equipment. However, as the first competitive hit out in the U.S. on the Triumph, question marks still linger as to how the 765cc triple will go on the banks. If the bike’s up for it, Brandon will be at the pointy end and could very well join two exclusive clubs as a back-to-back winner and a winner on two different makes of machinery.

Josh Herrin #2

Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati NYC Ducati Panigale V2

Josh Herrin

Herrin has made a major career shift in 2022, stepping down from years of Superbike competition to the Supersport class that he once dominated. The Californian will be the headline act for Ducati, as the Italian brand makes its return to Daytona on the Panigale V2. Like Brandon Paasch’s Triumph, the Ducati’s performance over the full 57 laps is unknown but Herrin knows how to win at Daytona, taking the gold in 2010 on the Graves Yamaha. He too wants that title as a double winner on two different motorcycles and wants to clinch Ducati’s second 200 win.

Danny Eslick #69

TOBC Racing Triumph Street Triple RS

Danny Eslick

A four-time Daytona 200 winner on three different brands makes Eslick one of the all-time Daytona greats. Although the Oklahoman has been focusing on flat track racing for the past few seasons, Eslick is never someone you can count out on the Daytona banking. Teammate to Paasch on the three-cylinder TOBC Racing Triumph Street Triple RS, Eslick will be match-ready but it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to hold the pace of the current MotoAmerica number one, Gagne, and the gaggle of sorted four-cylinder 600s he’ll have to deal with.

Dark Horses

Cameron Petersen #45

Attack Performance Yamaha YZF-R6

Cameron Petersen

South African Petersen comes off his best MotoAmerica Superbike season to date in 2022, finishing third behind winner Gagne and compatriot Mathew Scholtz. His reward? The second seat alongside Gagne in the all-conquering Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha team for 2022. Although he’s a rookie to the banks, Petersen is a fast learner and he’s on the same bike as Gagne in Richard Stamboli’s jet of an R6, so don’t discount him from pulling a surprise this year.

Sam Lochoff #44

Vision Wheel M4 Ecstar Suzuki GSX-R600

Sam Lochoff

Another South African, Lochoff, along with fellow rookie teammate Richie Escalante and veteran Geoff May, comes to Daytona carrying the hopes of the Vision Wheel M4 Ecstar Suzuki team, who badly want to redeem the result of last year when Paasch stole the 200 on the line from their rider, Sean Dylan Kelly. Lochoff’s had recent experience at Daytona, winning the ASRA Team Challenge event there last October. He is a favorite for the 2022 MotoAmerica Supersport Championship, and will be looking to become the first South African to seal the deal in the 200.

Richie Escalante #54

Vision Wheel M4 Ecstar Suzuki GSX-R600

Richie Escalante

Mexico’s Richie Escalante makes his Daytona 200 debut this year for John and Chris Ulrich’s Suzuki outfit, but don’t let his lack of experience fool you. Escalante is a grinder, having diligently worked his way up the ranks to the MotoAmerica Supersport Championship title in 2020 and just missing out on repeating that feat in 2021. His is a bike well sorted to Daytona and he’s a fast learner. Like Lochoff and Petersen, Escalante will be looking to take his country’s first win in the Daytona 200.

Hayden Gillim #95

Disrupt Racing Suzuki GSX-R600

Hayden Gillim

A proven race winner at a national level, Gillim’s been around long enough not to get overawed by the occasion of the Daytona 200. After very nearly taking the MotoAmerica Supersport Championship in 2019, Gillim’s career has since seen him racing Stock 1000, King of The Baggers and various flat track events, proving the Kentuckian is adept at almost any class and discipline. Don’t count him out to spring a surprise in the 200.

Geoff May #99

Vision Wheel M4 Ecstar Suzuki GSX-R600

Geoff May

The third rider for Vision Wheel M4 Ecstar team on the Suzuki GSX-R600, evergreen Geoff May just refuses to give in. At 41-years-old, May’s professional career stretches over two decades and has seen him play a leading role in national-level Superbike, Supersport and Stock 1000 championships, as well as a season in WorldSBK for the EBR team in 2014. May’s about to embark on yet another full year in the pro ranks in America in 2022 and his years of race craft will serve him well on the Daytona banking.

The Internationals

The Daytona 200 always attracts some high-quality international contenders and 2022 is no different. Leading the charge for the overseas contingent will be former WorldSSP, MotoAmerica, and current Endurance World Championship regular, Sheridan Morais, making it three South Africans in the race with compatriots Sam Lochoff and Cameron Petersen.

Sheridan Morais
South African journeyman Sheridan Morais returns to American soil in an attempt to take Daytona glory.

Morais is joined by Kevin Olmedo, the El Salvadorian who has been a regular in MotoAmerica over the past few seasons; British Superbike series brothers Harry and Matt Truelove; Frenchmen Timothee Monot and Vincent Levillain; Canadians Alex Coelho and Darren James; Colombian Jose Lloreda; Mexico’s Richie Escalante, Poland’s August Nord, Hungarian Antal Halasz and the Czech Republic’s Kamil Holan, who took fourth place in the Heavyweight division at the 2019 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

The Undercard

Twins Cup

2022 MotoAmerica Twins Cup
The Twins Cup gets its first-ever taste of the banking in 2022 and bragging rights will be huge for the winner.

Round one of the 2022 MotoAmerica Twins Cup will see 2021 title winner Kaleb De Keyrel return to defend his number-one plate on the Veloce Racing Aprilia RS 660. De Keyrel’s win in 2021 came after early-season dominance was married to late-season consistency and he’ll go into round one a favorite for the Daytona win.

De Keyrel will have to deal with old foes (and teammate) Jody Barry, Hayden Schultz (Cycle Tech – Speed Weaponry Yamaha YZF-R7), and Jackson Blackmon (Wrench Motorcycles Yamaha YZF-R7). Gus Rodio (Rodio Racing/Warhorse HSBK Racing Aprilia RS 660), his teammate Anthony Mazziotto, Dominic Doyle (Bartcon Racing Yamaha YZF-R7), Trevor Standish (Pure Attitude Racing Yamaha YZF-R7) and the Robem Engineering Aprilia RS 660 trio of Teagg Hobbs, Benjamin Gloddy and Tommaso Marcon will also present plenty of tough competition.

Mission King of the Baggers

The success story of the last couple of years for MotoAmerica—the Mission King of the Baggers—returns for another year of ultra-big bike racing, and the field is more stacked than ever heading into round one at Daytona.

Mission King of the Baggers
A barrage of booming American V-twins will be a sight to see and hear on the Daytona banks.

Current series number-one Kyle Wyman (H-D Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson Road Glide) headlines the high-speed act with his teammate brother Travis, as they look to defeat their arch nemesis of the factory Mission Foods/S&S Cycle/Indian Challenger Team of Tyler O’Hara and former MotoGP front runner, Northern Ireland’s Jeremy McWilliams.

Cory West will be piloting the wild supercharged Indian Chieftain for the Saddlemen/Lloyd’z Garage outfit and will team with fiancée Patricia Fernandez on the Indian Challenger.

On top of those heavy hitters is the redoubtable Frankie Garcia, fourth in the 2021 King of The Baggers Championship, looking to go three better in 2022 on the Roland Sands Design Indian Challenger.

Former AMA National Champions James Rispoli (Vance & Hines Racing Harley-Davidson Road Glide) and Andrew Lee (Big Bear Performance Harley-Davidson Road Glide) make their KOTB debut, as does Rispoli’s teammate Taylor Knapp, and former MotoAmerica Supersport Champion Bobby Fong (Roland Sands Design Indian Challenger). Shane Narbonne (Trask Race Team Harley-Davidson Road Glide) could also be in the mix.

Super Hooligan National Championship

Round one of the three-round Super Hooligan National Championship will take place at Daytona, and it’s a seriously mixed bag of riders and machinery.

Super Hooligan National Championship
The ragtag misfits that make up the Super Hooligans will provide plenty of color and entertainment in Florida.

The Super Hooligans will have two classes, one for water-cooled motors and another for air-cooled V-twins, with the favorite likely to be KTM 890 Duke R-mounted Andy DiBrino for the water-cooled brigade. He’ll be up against Roland Sands Design Indian FTR1200 riders Tyler O’Hara and Frankie Garcia, fellow KTM 890 riders Joe Shepherd and Arnold Hastings, Shelina Moreda on the Nowaskey Performance/She’z Racing Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP, and Cory West and Patricia Fernandez on the Saddlemen/Lloyd’z Garage Indian FTR1200.

In the air-cooled class, the favorite has got to be Nate Kern on the Soul Fuel BMW Motorrad BMW R nineT. Barrett Long and his Longevity Racing Harley-Davidson XR1200 will be in the mix, as hopes to be this writer on the Roland Sands Design Indian Chief, who, who we might add, is the only Australian racing in any class at Daytona this year. CN

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2022 Daytona 200 Preview

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