Darkening skies and threatening clouds cleared leaving nothing but sunny skies for fans to watch the Daytona 200 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Honda riders Miguel Duhamel and Josh Hayes traded place in a battle for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th place with Suzuki's #34 Michael Barnes, Kawasaki's #15 Steve Rapp and Yamaha's #157 Chaz Davies. Lap after lap these five riders battled through traffic trading lead repeatedly, often entering 3 and 4 abreast into the first turn off the front straight.
With only tenths of a second separating each of the top 5 riders, the battle for position continued throughout the first third of the race. On lap 9, #221 Walter Sipp onboard the Buell XB12R crashed out, ending his race day.
On lap 21 mechanical difficulties plagued team Honda ending the race for #17 Miguel Duhamel and #98 Jake Zemke as both appeared to have run out of gas ending their hopes for winning the race. On lap 22 Honda's #96 Aaron Gobert also appeared to run out of fuel, leaving #1 Josh Hayes barely making it into the pits, running on fumes.
Closer inspection in the paddock revealed that the Honda machines still carried at least 2 liters of fuel, more than enough to have made it to the pits.
Photo: Technicians draining fuel from #17 Bike...
The source of the Honda fuel delivery issue is unknown at this time and Ron Heben, Honda Road Race Manager stated,
"It's one of those things that we have to go back and find out. We did all the fuel mileage and everything this whole week and the temperatures have been pretty similar to today. We have no reason to risk it to go for the exact lap. We kind of have a pretty broad window of where we can lap, do two pit stops, and still finish the race. Obviously, we've got some kind of glitch out there. When we get back, we have to go take a look at it. It's a big disappointment for today because of Honda's success in the Daytona 200, where Miguel is riding. All the other guys - they're positioning to make a great race and put another Honda up font. So, we just have to go back and figure out what happened."
With the race order completely changed due to Honda's fuel issues, Kawasaki's #15 Steve Rapp took the lead, with Yamaha's #40 Jason Disalvo, Yamaha's #157 Chaz Davies and Kawasaki's #12 Ben Attard making up the top four.
As the race progressed Honda's #1 Josh Hayes pitted cautiously hoping to avoid a repeat of his teammate's fuel problems. By lap 55, Kawasaki's #15 Steve Rapp continued to lead with Kawasaki #12 Ben Attard in 2nd and #34 Barnes trading places with #157 Davies for 3rd, carrying the order right to the finish line, with Rapp taking the checkered flag.
Photo: Several liters of fuel that remained in the DNF #17 Honda
MIGUEL DUHAMEL, No. 17 Honda
"We had one more lap to go (before his fuel stop). We didn't run out of fuel. I think we had a fuel pump problem. There was fuel left in the gas tank, it just didn't get to the engine. Extremely unfortunate. The CBR600RR was working. It was the best 200 motorcycle I've ever had here. I was really in control, having a lot of fun out there. I was trying to get a little break on them I almost did it. Then I just really playing around, really in control of my destiny. I think, if it wouldn't have been for what happened, I think we would have had a great Daytona 200 By Honda.
On all four bikes having simultaneous problems
"We have an open book system at Honda. We all did what we thought was the best for the bikes. Obviously, something slipped through the cracks, and almost caused all four of us to be out of it. It's unfortunate, but Josh is still out there and riding good. It's very rare that these things happen. It's like being present to see a comet hit the atmosphere, a small one, hopefully.
The bike was the best I ever had. I really felt that once these guys didn't have me as a target to keep running after me, I really thought that I could drop these guys. I really felt I had a faster bike in the infield. On top end, it was about even, which is great. I was just waiting for the pit stops, so these guys didn't have me to chase around, and start putting some time on them. I really felt, with the two pits, by the end of the race I was going to have it. I thought I was going to get a really big lead. I thought my prophecy was going to be good, about making it a boring race. On the other hand, the guys gave me a great bike. The suspension was wonderful, the tires were great and the bike was working awesome. That's about the only scenario I could see of us not winning this race."
AARON GOBERT, No. 96 Honda
"We calculated wrong on the fuel. Maybe the different weather conditions or something, but we were running low and I came in. At the start, I got run off the track in turn one from Pegram sticking up inside of Zemke in turn one of a 200-mile race. That put me in the grass. I was back in the pack. I was just trying to get through. Then in the end, when they did the pit stop, somehow, the fuel wouldn't empty out. It might have been an electrical problem, but apparently it might have been vapor lock. We're not sure yet."