Here’s a roundup of the weekend’s racing news:
The 79th edition of the Daytona 200 ran Saturday, March 13, with 19-year-old Brandon Paasch winning. Paasch trailed 18-year-old Sean Dylan Kelly for much of the race, but beat him across the line by 0.03 seconds! Tyler O’Hara took third place.
Daytona vets Michael Barnes and Danny Eslick were fourth and fifth respectively. Michael Dunlop, who’d traveled to Florida from Northern Ireland to try his hand at the famous race, was 11th; word on the street was that his crew wasn’t quite up to speed, and Daytona’s weird banked track is certainly a mind-bender for most first-time visitors there. He sounded like he was happy with his result, anyway.
Further back in the pack, defending champ Kyle Wyman finished five laps down, in 25th spot, after an unfortunate collision early in the race, on the 19th lap. Wyman needed some medical attention, and the red flag came out. His team was able to patch his bike back up, and Wyman did go back out and race, but obviously didn’t get the result he’d hoped for.
One final note: This was supposedly the first time in the Daytona 200’s history that no Canadians raced. Of course, COVID-19 restrictions are to blame.
MotoGP testing kicked off at Qatar last week, but the racers didn’t complete their schedule. On Friday, the last day of the test, a sandstorm rolled in (a fun side effect of racing in the desert). The riders weren’t able to safely continue, and most didn’t even get any laps in.
At the end of the first test, Ducati and Yamaha seem to have strong factory bikes this year, although there could be plenty of changes with all the teams before the March 28 weekend.
One very important piece of information, to all the GP teams: Honda’s Marc Marquez is apparently training on a minibike these days, after doctors cleared him. If his mangled arm continues to recover, he could be racing again in the early days of the 2021 MotoGP season; he’s on the list to appear at Qatar, but that’s no guarantee. No doubt Honda is going to make him play carefully here, because a too-quick return in 2020 was what destroyed his season. It’s been eight months since he last rode a bike, so it’s no wonder they’re confining him to a minibike for now. Most of Marquez’s problems are self-inflicted due to poor choices, including premature returns from injury.