Daytona 1996: DuHamel Stings Russell
"Miguel rode a great race, he deserved it," Russell said from the Winner's Circle.
The podium for the 1996 Daytona 200. Colin Edwards and Scott Russell would head off after Daytona to battle in world championships – Edwards in World Superbike, Russell in 500cc Grand Prix. Duhamel would have an epic season-long battle with Doug Chandler in AMA Superbike that would go down to the final round with Chandler ultimately taking the title. (Henny Ray Abrams photo)

It was the closest Daytona 200 finish ever—Smokin' Joe's Miguel DuHamel beat Lucky Strike's Scott Russel by .010 seconds.

It was the second time Russel has lost the Daytona 200 by a blink of an eye, in 1993 Eddie Lawson beat Russel by .051 seconds.

Russel would be a five time Daytona 200 winner instead of a three time winner had he been able to find just .061 seconds, at the right moment in time.

But it was DuHamel's day and DuHamel's Daytona; he won by riding harder than Russel on the last lap. With reckless courage DuHamel proved that you can lead out of the chicane and hold off the draft pass challenge of a more powerful bike and a very determined rider. Champagne was never given out so deservedly.

"Oh man, I can't believe it! Scott rode an incredible race. He is one of the best riders in the world, and at Daytona he is so hard. (Earlier in the race) I was trying to draft past him at the Star/Finish line. I couldn't do it, the Start/Finish line was not the right place, so I said, 'I better lead this thing.' I think that took Scott by surprise. In the banking I did a little weaving, I was trying to break the draft. It was a crazy move, right for the wall. But I leaned it in, and the thing just backed around. I don't know if you know, but it's pretty scary sliding a superbike at 170 miles per hour on the banking! I probably backed off one percent, 'cause I might wind up in the bleachers up there. But it worked, Scott just towed me, and that's what pretty much threw him off completely. You've got to love it."

"Miguel rode a great race, he deserved it," Russell said from the Winner's Circle. "We had the race won—something happened, and I just came up a little bit short at the end."

Fifteen seconds behind the winning Honda and the second place Suzuki was the Yamaha of Colin Edwards II, caught the Yoshimura Suzuki of Pascal Picotte in the closing laps of the race to take third by less than a half second.

"I'm still on the podium, I can't be too disappointed," Edwards said. "It be better if I was on top. I rode my butt off, that's all I could do."

For the major teams, Smokin' Joes Honda had the most to cheer about, as DuHamel's teammate Steve Crevier came home sixth, riding a cautious race in his first outing on a RC-45.

Miguel Duhamel and Scott Russell side by side on the Daytona high banks where Duhamel’s Camel Honda had just a little more juice than the Lucky Strick Suzuki of Russell. Their dash for the flag made for the closest finish in Daytona 200 history. (Henny Ray Abrams photo)

"I got the Smokin' Joes's Honda up there for sixth. I didn't qualify so good, and when you start back there you wind up back here (in the garage). That means I just have to qualify better. We're walking out of here with some superbike points, so we're not looking too bad."

The Yoshimura Suzuki team proved that the new GSXR750 and their new riders—Picotte, youngster Aaron Yates, and Aussie Mat Madlin—are capable of running at the front—provided that the tires are up to it. All three riders had problems with their Dunlop rear tires.

"My rear tire was gone—I mean really gone," Picotte said. "I got a little confused with my pit board and started thinking about too many things. I blew the chicane, and that's why Colin caught me."

"I felt what I thought was a tire vibration, so I came in just as the pace car came out and the team changed it," seventh place Yates explained. "I got back out and wasn't sure if I should move back up to where I was. I did, but I guess the AMA felt that I shouldn't have. I came in for the stop-and-go and did a pit stop, but they didn't like that so I came back in again."

"I'm disappointed with eleventh, with two extra pit stops and everything," Mladin lamented. "But before we had any (tire) dramas, Aaron, Pascal and myself were right in there, right in there for a podium finish. Aaron had one tire go, I sort of had two, that's the way it goes - it's Daytona. I think after today, our team should be really enthused, because we have shown that we can run with the new bike. We had some of the best (riders) in the world behind us, I think our team has done a really good job."

It was not a good Saint Patrick's weekend race for the green bikes, with Anthony Gobert and Mike Smith both having mechanical misfortunes during the first third of the race. Doug Chandler, who won both legs of the Daytona NASB races, finished fifth overall in the 200.

"I'm happy considering what we came here with. Fifth is better than I expected. The start of the week was really good, as the week progressed we started to have some problems, so it was actually more of a survival race than anything else. I really didn't have any close calls. There was some times that there was some real close, intense racing, but I was just staying out of trouble and turning some real good lap times there at the end."

It was pretty much the same story over in the Yamaha garages, who also struggled through the practice and qualifying days. The best Yamaha after third place World Superbike visitor Edwards was Tom Kipp, who finished eighth. Kipp's teammate Jamie James broke his clutch right at the start and retired after one lap.

"Fried the clutch on the start. That's the way it goes," James said. "It was a new clutch system—we've never had any trouble with it. It's a shame we had to learn it here."

Yamaha’s Colin Edwards managed to get past Pascal Picotte late in the race to finish third. Edwards would go on to earn seven World Superbike podiums and finish fifth in the championship that season. (Henny Ray Abrams photo)

The Ducati's were dealt the worst troubles of all, as three out of the four works bikes were acting up right from the start. Even the top privateer Ducati of Dale Quarterley, on loan to Randy Renfrow, suffered broken motor mounts in the race, but managed to finish thirteenth. The best Ducati finish (ninth) belonged to Fast By Ferracci's Larry Pegram, who would have finished higher if the pit stops had been better.

The unfortunate six day rain delay caused many of the out-of-town Harley faithful to miss H-D's best Daytona 200 in years. Not only did The Harley finish, it stayed on the lead lap all day, and rider Chris Carr made top ten.

"Our goal when we came here was to finish the race," Carr said. "Harley-Davidson hasn't finished a Daytona 200 in about twenty years. We came close last year, but came up a few laps short. I thought if we stayed consistent and burned some laps and stayed out of trouble, we had a shot at a top ten, and sure enough we ended up tenth. It was a real smooth race with no major problems. We didn't make any mistakes and never ran off the track."

The Race Comes To DuHamel
"Our goal when we came here was to finish the race," Carr said. "Harley-Davidson hasn't finished a Daytona 200 in about twenty years. We came close last year, but came up a few laps short. I thought if we stayed consistent and burned some laps and stayed out of trouble, we had a shot at a top ten, and sure enough we ended up tenth. It was a real smooth race with no major problems. We didn't make any mistakes and never ran off the track."
The now famous six day rain postponement caused eighteen riders to pack up and leave; most were the no hope, come as you are privateers that make up the back of the grid. The two noticeable absentees were the Suzuki World Superbike riders of Kirk McCarthy and John Reynolds, who were never successful in finding the proper speed or set-up for the new GSXR. Reynolds was the twentieth fastest works bike out of twenty works bikes, which meant he was out qualified by the factory Harley VR1000s.

The 200 started in 80 degree weather with a nice, occasional breeze. Promotor Ducati rider Mike Hale was first to Turn One, followed by Russell, Gobert, and Hale's teammate, pole sitter Troy Corser.

Hale was the first to the reach the NASCAR banking, followed by Gobert with Russell and Corser side-by-side.

Russell lost several positions during the run on the banking, but this was all part of the game plan to ensure survival. 

"I let Colin, Mike, Anthony, Troy, and all them guys go at it, I didn't want to get mixed up in that. I stepped back, and rode my own race," Russell said.

Hale was first to the line, with Gobert and Corser beside each other for second and third. Edwards was a half second behind in fourth, and DuHamel was a similar distance back in fifth. Russell was another full second back in sixth, with another second back to Yates and Picotte. Smith was ninth, followed by Kipp.

Corser, Gobert, and Edwards all overtook Hale in the second lap, the three WSB riders all putting in their best laps of the race (1:50.925 for Corser, 1:51.482 for Gobert, and 1:51.252 for Edwards). This quartet were now putting a small gap on the pair of DuHamel and Russell. The Yoshimura pair remained steady, but Smith was falling backwards, and out of the top ten.

"I burnt my clutch up, yup, I sure did," Smith explained. "It didn't start slipping until about the second lap. I think the start really took a toll on the clutch." Smith would pit on the following lap for a new clutch. 

Kipp and Pegram rounded out the second lap's top ten.

Hale's best lap time of the race (1:51.932) occurred on the following lap, as he tried to hang on to the WSB trio. Russell's third lap was also his best (1:51.255), as he passed DuHamel and went after Hale. The Yosh bikes were now two seconds behind DuHamel, and were getting caught by Pegram, now ahead of Kipp. As with Hale and Russell, Pegram's and Kipp's best lap times were recorded on the third lap (1:52.396 and 1:53.156, respectively).

Edwards and Gobert battled each other on lap four, which allowed Corser to clear himself by two full seconds. Russell passed Hale and was tailing Gobert, while DuHamel found speed to record his best lap (1:51.493), and join the group. The other positions remained as before.

Russell put Gobert a position down on lap five, while Corser padded the lead by another half second. DuHamel was pressuring his former teammate Hale in effort to stay in the five rider contest for second.

 Hale's race ended on lap six with a crash in Turn Six, the left-hander that sends riders out of the infield and on to the banking.

"I was having some problems, but I got into some oil, fell off," said Hale, who was unhurt. "The lap that Troy came by me, I was having a little bit of an ignition problem. It seemed like it was starting to go away a little bit, I picked the pace back up, closed it up on Gobert and Edwards again. I put it in to Turn Six there—I saw the oil flag, but I didn't see the oil on the track."

Everyone behind Hale advanced accordingly, and Mladin was now the last of the top ten.

As Hale was crashing out of the race, Corser started slowing down, and was now lapping two seconds slower. Corser slowed down another second and half on lap seven, which allowed Edwards to take the lead in the infield, followed by Russell. DuHamel was fourth and Gobert was fifth, with only two seconds covering the top five.

Ducati pinned their biggest hopes of winning the 200 on 1994 AMA Superbike Champion Troy Corser. The Aussie won the pole for the race, here receiving his pole Rolex from a Rolex exec, and led parts of the race, but his factory Ducati expired just past the halfway mark. Corser would go on to win the Superbike World Championship that season. (Courtesy DIS)


"Basically, I had an overheated engine," Corser admitted. "It was a problem from the first lap of the race, it was running a little bit warm. I thought, well, I'll go and try to get a little bit of a gap, and then back it off and try and cruise the engine a bit, which I could do, and then let them catch. I was talking with (the crew) the whole time on the radio, just to tell them what was happening on the bike. They said it's okay, just keep going, 'cause there's nothing we could do, really."

The top five tightened up on lap eight, with the only shuffle being Gobert passing DuHamel.

Corser went from cruise back to race on lap nine, after giving his Ducati's dubious engine a bit of a breather. Farther back, Mladin passed Kipp to move into ninth.

By now the leaders were deep into lapped riders, and DuHamel was getting the best breaks. The Canadian moved up to second on lap ten, followed by Russell and Gobert. Edwards had to dash in to the pits, several laps earlier than planned, for a new rear tire.

"Definitely wasn't planned that way," Edwards said. "I'm not going to say it was Dunlop's mistake, they were doing all they can, Miguel won the race on Dunlops. It was just the wrong tire choice, and we had to come in."

Also having equipment problems on lap ten was Fast By Ferracci's Shawn Higbee, who had been steady in the thirteenth position. "The bike broke. Something in the transmission - it started leaking oil on my rear tire. It's a long race, stuff happens."

Corser had the lead back at two seconds on lap 11, with Gobert now his nearest rival. DuHamel was third, Russell was fourth, with only a half second covering second through fourth. Edwards was back on the track in twelfth position, 33 seconds back from his former trackmates, with Chandler directly ahead and Crevier farther up.

The running order remained largely unchanged over the next three laps. By lap 14 Corser had a 1.7 second lead on Gobert, who was still being shadowed by DuHamel and Russell. Yates was ten seconds back, with Picotte another two seconds. Mladin was seventh, followed by Pegram, Kipp, Crevier, Chandler and Edwards.

Gobert pitted on lap 15, about three laps earlier than typical race plan, due to problems with his front tire.

After replacing both wheels and re-fueling, Gobert had to pit again on the following lap to address a front brake problem.

"The first problem we had was the front tire, it chunked out. I was in second place and I was just sort of sitting there behind Troy, I was feeling pretty comfortable. I wanted to win this race so bad. But then, when we had the front tire problem, and had to pit. I still felt comfortable that we could get back into a reasonable position. When I went out I had a front brake problem, so I had to come straight back in on the next lap."

The two consecutive pit stops allowed the leaders to bury Gobert, putting him a lap down.

Corser went back to cruise on laps 15 and 16, which allowed DuHamel to catch up. Russell sat in third, two seconds back. Yates and Picotte were now in fourth and fifth, and riding two to three seconds off from their earlier quick times. From there the order read Mladin, Pegram, Kipp, Crevier, Edwards and Chandler.

DuHamel pitted on lap 17 for both tires and fuel, and re-entered the track in sixth position. Pegram pitted on the following lap, and Corser and Yates on the lap after that.

By this point, Suzukis were first, second and third (Russel, Picotte, and Mladin) due to holding off their first stops. Corser was fourth, 24 seconds back from Russell, and the pair of DuHamel and Edwards were seven seconds off of Corser. Kipp, who was also due to pit, was five seconds further back, followed by Crevier, Yates, Chandler, Pegram, and Carr.

The long wait to pit was all part of the Russell plan. "Yeah, that was the plan all day. We did that last year, same schedule. It works. That was all okay. The first set of tires didn't feel so nice, I lost the front a few times going into Turn One. I wasn't going that hard, I wasn't pushing it at all."

By lap 22 everyone had been in and out of the pits at least once and had settled with the fresh rubber. Corser was back in charge, Russell was in second, five seconds back, closely followed by DuHamel and Edwards. The Yoshimura trio of Yates, Picotte, and Mladin followed, then came Crevier, Chandler, Kipp, Pegram, and Carr. The only major shake-up during the pit stops was that Pegram lost four positions. 

"The front wheel got caught up, it was a 25 second stop," Pegram explained. "Something happened, it jammed up, and we couldn't get it right. The first pit stop was 22 seconds."
"We had a few dramas with the round, black stuff", was all that Mladin had to say about it on the record.
The order remained generally fixed over the coming laps. Corser's lead was being steadily eroded by Russell, who was losing DuHamel and Edwards in the process. Yates and Picotte were now paired up tightly, 25 seconds behind Edwards. However, their teammate from down under, Matt Mladin, had to pit on laps 25 and 26 to sort out tire problems. 

"We had a few dramas with the round, black stuff", was all that Mladin had to say about it on the record.

With Mladin now buried, Chandler was promoted to seventh, and was being chased aggressively by Crevier. Kipp was ninth, followed by Pegram and Carr.

Corser was back in the cruise mode by lap 28, and on lap 29 Russell went past to claim back the lead, with DuHamel in tow.

Fourth place Edwards had to pit again for fuel and tires, as he was about nine laps off the normal schedule because of the earlier tire problem.

While the front runners were getting set to mix it up again, former Daytona 200 winner John Ashmead crashed in Turn One while running in fifteenth position. This brought the pace car on the track, and brought Corser into the pits. Corser's race was over, as the Ducati was emanating fumes like that of a witch's brew.

"I thought, well, okay, maybe we're going to be lucky and get away with it, but it just got worse and worse and worse. I just kept riding around trying to keep it running, but just didn't get there."

Yates pitted during the pace car laps, and made a huge mistake in assuming that he could move back into his old position. Yates would later receive the meatball flag, and it could be argued that this cost the rookie Superbike rider a podium position.

The pace car pulled off on lap 34, with Russell and DuHamel now joined by Edwards, Picotte, and Yates for a five way battle for the lead.

Unfortunately, the headliner in this battle, Russell, had to pit unexpectedly on the following lap for a new rear tire. "I picked up a puncture behind the pace car. That ruined it for me, really. I was lucky to get back in (the race), actually." Russell re-joined the race in eleventh, 30 seconds behind the leading foursome. "They were gone, I thought—this isn't going to work out. I wasn't sure what lap it was, but I thought maybe we were going to have to stop again for gas, and that's my race, it's over. I just kept plugging away out there. Everybody started making their pit stops, and I came back."

The race order of lap 35 had proved durable over the coming laps, with Edwards leading, and Picotte and Yates close behind. DuHamel was a half second behind in fourth. Chandler, Crevier, Kipp, Pegram, Carr, Thomas Wilson (factory Harley) and Russell followed.

Picotte eventually got past Edwards on lap 38, but pitted on the following lap for fuel and his final set of tires. Other visitors to the pits included Chandler and Kipp.

Yoshimura Suzuki got a spark in 1996 in the form of GP refugee Mat Mladin. Mladin and teammates Aaron Yates and Pascal Picotte were all front runners during parts of that year’s 200, but all had different issues that kept them off the podium. This was taken after the race. AMA Tech inspector John Figas is clearly not happy waiting for Yosh to get him the parts he's requested. (DFA photo)

Edwards went back to the front, with Yates all over his backside, and DuHamel likewise on Yates. DuHamel's teammate Crevier was fourth, Pegram fifth, Picotte sixth, Russell seventh, Chandler eighth, Kipp ninth, and Wilson tenth.

Pegram pitted on lap 40, which was almost as slow as his first. "The pace car saved me, it caught me back up. After the pace car, I had some lappers in between me and Chandler and Kipp and Crevier, they kinda spread us out, but I caught right up to them. I caught Kipp and I was catching them other guys. I came in for my other pit stop, and we were (then) twenty seconds behind. It hurts a little. I think we could have been top five if we had good pit stops." Pegram re-joined the race in ninth, ahead of Carr and Wilson.

Edwards remained in front through lap 42, and then yielded to Yates on the following lap.

"I was pretty pumped about it," Yates said. "Things went really good there when I was in front. Things were easier when I was there than when I was behind people, or when nobody was with me. I felt really comfortable."

DuHamel pitted on lap 43 for two tires and fuel, just as the weather was getting a little cooler and a little cloudier. DuHamel re-entered the track directly behind Picotte and Russell, who were having their own little battle.

"I thought I had to be up front," Russell wondered. "I kept looking at the leader board as I got in to Turn One, it said Colin and Aaron Yates was leading the thing. I kept saying, 'where are those guys?' I couldn't see them."

Crevier pitted on the next subsequent lap, and dropped from third to seventh place.

The exciting Yates over Edwards show came to an end when both pitted on lap 47. Edwards was back on the track in fourth place, with Picotte a short distance ahead. Yates rode into the pits slower than Edwards which cost him dearly in track position.
Smokin' Joes team owner Martin Adams was not concerned about the AMA ruling in Muzzy's favor. "It's going to be a nice supper tonight, on Muzzy."
"I don't think he really wasn't quite aware of how important pit stops are," Edwards suggested. "Coming into the pit, he just kind backed off and relaxed. I came by him, probably 40 mile an hour on him—it's part of the race track. That's really where I put my time on him. Not that our stops were loads quicker than his, just that coming into the pits." 

The stage was set by lap 48. Russell had a half second lead on DuHamel, Picotte was nine seconds back and had Edwards two seconds behind him. Yates was another 10 seconds behind, with Chandler and Crevier drafting the Yoshimura Suzuki. Kipp, Pegram, and Carr rounded out the top ten. Yates would drop two positions two laps later, when he was meatballed to the pit lane for a stop-and-go for his irresponsibility while following the pace car.

Russell picked up the pace to nearly equal that of the furious opening laps, but DuHamel was unshakable. Russell, though, was also in a race against fuel consumption, as his last pit stop was on lap 35 and he needed to squeeze 22 laps out of his tank.

"(The sign crew) finally showed me the P1 on the board, and I thought 'ahh, good,'" Russell recalled. "Then there was like eight laps (to go). I don't care if he told me to stop, I'm not stopping, we'll run this thing right out of gas."

Russell gave the lead to DuHamel on lap 51, and for the first time DuHamel was leading the race.

"A couple of things came to me when I was behind Scott. I was trying to size him up for a draft at the Finish line, 'cause everyone wants to do that, you know. I knew that Scott was expecting it. I was measuring him up, but I didn't have the right tape measure, I couldn't get it right. So I said, 'well, I guess I better lead this thing.' I could have pulled (a draft at the finish line) off, but it was so close that I didn't want to do it. I figured that both bikes were the same speed, on top. When I saw L8, I'm thinking I couldn't believe it, a 200 with only eight laps left, I better do something here. I figured, well, I better get in front. I think that's what Scott wanted, so it wasn't too hard to do. He was trying to do the same thing, sizing me up."

It looked as if Russell had DuHamel right where he wanted him, and the script was as predictable as the sunrise.

"Right at the end, eight laps to go, Miguel tested me, and when he did, I just held the throttle and let him go. Earlier, when Pascal was leading, I had enough margin to do it. I caught a draft off (Picotte and DuHamel), and I came by them both, no problem, at Start/Finish. Then after (DuHamel) got in front, I tested him a few times. I had what it took to get by and get it done. Just like he did as well, but it had to be done at just the right time and everything had to be just right."

DuHamel also knew that timing was everything. "I thought my chances were more 50/50, maybe 51/49 if I was leading. If I wasn't leading, I think my chances would have dropped to around 45 percent, 40 percent. To pull a draft move you have to make sure to have everything right."

For the final two laps the two leaders were lucky to have a completely clear track, free of backmarkers, for the ultimate showdown. Lap times were down in the low 1:52's as both riders were at the top of their form.

On the white flag lap DuHamel tried everything to break free of Russell, and was throwing the Honda into massive, one hundred foot slides coming out of the infield corners. Russell kept up, and followed DuHamel right up to the chicane.

"We were watching all these (old) races, and you would not believe how many times Al Ludington got on me (about leading out of the chicane)," as DuHamel explained his race strategy. "Everybody that was leading out of the chicane, they got drafted and passed at the front Start/Finish line. The only thing I was thinking was that if I'm leading this thing out of the chicane and I lose, I might as well keep driving towards California and not come in the pits."

"I came through (the chicane) a little slow, but I came out there real good, strong—but not as strong as I would have liked to, of course, but strong enough where I had a decent drive out of it. Then, of course, I knew that Scott was anticipating me to do something different, so of course I went up high, then I came down low, and then, you know, I got to do something else, I went back up high. It's kinda hard to move on the banking up and down like that, the G forces pushing you around. When I went back up, I said I better pull this thing in, cause the wall is coming pretty close to me here. When I pulled it in, the rear end broke around, sliding coming off the banking. I must have blipped the throttle like—the computer says 100 percent, wide open—it must have dropped down around 98 percent. I said, 'get back on it, get back on it, you're going to lose the Daytona 200!' I just slid it past the wall. The straight looked like it was probably 50 miles long to the Start/Finish line."

"Coming out of the chicane, he put on a little move," Russell explained, "but that was cool, 'cause I had a few bike lengths to play with, I didn't have to slow down at all. We got out, and started wiggling on the thing at 180 miles per hour. It's not a lot of fun, you know, you got to chase somebody around like that. The last cut we made comin' off of Turn Four, both of us just sliding the rear tire. My tires had a lot of laps on it, 'cause I was out for some time. I had to push it that little bit too much, that's all it took."

As the pair approached the checkered flag the long awaited move by Russell started, and it was hard to tell who had the advantage.

"I couldn't feel any buffeting around," DuHamel recalled. "I was only feeling it about 20 feet before the Start/Finish line, I knew he was a little late unless he had something he didn't show me. As soon as I past the checkered flag, I could see Scott from the side of my eye, right on my knee puck."

Fifteen seconds behind the Honda versus Suzuki dual was a nearly equally good fight over third, as Edwards was racing down Picotte. 

"With about seven laps to go, I hadn't gained any time, he hadn't pulled away any," Edwards said. "With about three laps to go, two laps to go, I said, 'this isn't happening - I'm not finishing fourth again.' I finished fourth last year, I said I'm either going to throw this thing down the road or get on the box today. I rode as hard as I could those last two laps, and it paid off."

"I tried as hard as I could in the chicane," Picotte remarked. "I pushed the front and ended up going really wide, and that messed up my exit off of the chicane. He just ended up drafting and blowing by me at the Start/Finish line. This is the second time this has happened this weekend - first in the 750 Supersport, and now Superbike. But in the points I'm second so I guess it's not that bad."

Miguel Duhamel pulled off the Daytona Double, scoring victory in the 600 Supersport race as well as the 200. Here Duhamel proves that Honda’s CBR600, even though it was supposed to be close to stock as Supersport machine, was not lacking in rear-wheel horsepower. (Henny Ray Abrams photo)
Durable DuHamel 
by Tracy Hagen

It took four starts and four laps for Smokin' Joes's Miguel DuHamel to win his fourth Daytona 600 Supersport race, by a margin of victory of four seconds over Muzzy Kawasaki's Mike Smith. Kinko's Thomas Stevens was third, also on a Kawasaki. 
"Pretty straightforward—he came in there like a jackass and took me out," was Weichel's terse explanation afterwards. 
The fact that Miguel DuHamel won another 600 Supersport race by a convincing margin is nothing unusual, but any suggestion that this was a routine, business-as-usual race could not be further from the facts.

The first attempt to start the race occurred on the Sunday morning that the 200 mile Superbike race was originally scheduled for. As the bikes and riders went through Final Tech, a light rain began falling and by the start of the race the track was thoroughly wet and puddled. 

The first start was red-flagged as Swiss rider and European Supersport champion Yves Briguet (Honda) completed the opening lap, well in front of Norwegian Thorvald Saeby, also on a Honda. Several bike lengths behind were Mike Smith and Miguel DuHamel, followed by Floridian James Bronson and Austrian rider Christian Zwedorn, both on Hondas.

While the crash crews removed the fallen bikes and the track announcers tried to figure out name pronunciations,  sharp eyes had spotted that Yves Briguet was using rain tires on his Honda.

Or so they thought. The front tire was the 120/70R-17 Pirelli MT60R, and the rear was the 160/60R-17 MT60RS, racing wet replica tires, which are DOT legal and are standard equipment on the KTM Duke. In case anyone doesn't know what a KTM Duke is, it is a 609cc four stroke on/off road bike sold in Europe, with spoked wheels and inner tubes, but with tubeless, radial tires.

Dunlop's Jim Allen was interviewed by the track announcers, and agreed that the Pirelli's were legal. Allen also said that Dunlop would have a DOT approved wet racing tire ready either by the Pomona or Laguna Seca events.

The interesting tire twist did not end with Briguet, as the second place rider Saeby was using Metzler tires. Zwedorn, who started from the fourth row and had charged up to sixth place, was using Bridgestones.

The rain had picked up by the second time the riders were waved off, and, again, the race was halted as the survivors completed their first lap. DuHamel and Briguet were side-by-side this time, well in front of Bronson, DuHamel's teammate Steve Crevier, Jason Pridmore (Kinko's Kawasaki), Zwedorn, and Saeby.

The AMA officials called a thirty minute delay, which ran out to an hour. The rain was getting worse and worse, and finally the race was postponed until Monday. Monday became Saturday, as heavy, continuous rain flooded some sections of the track.

Come Saturday the famous Daytona Beach weather had returned home, and the third attempt at the eighteen lap 600 Supersport race was made in 80 degree, no wind, partly cloudy conditions.

The six day delay diminished the size of the grid from 75 to 44 riders.

Front row starter Steve Crevier was first out of the hole, followed by other front row riders DuHamel, former endurance world champion Doug Toland, and the pesky Yves Briguet. This always hairy first lap through the infield was toughest on Owen Weichel (Kawasaki), who was taken out by Pridmore.

"Pretty straightforward—he came in there like a jackass and took me out," was Weichel's terse explanation afterwards. 

"We had brake problems," Pridmore explained. "It was totally my fault, Owen didn't do anything, I just didn't have any brakes going into the horseshoe."

By the end of the first lap DuHamel was in front of Smith by a second, with Briguet in tow. Crevier, Moto-Liberty's Jamie Bowman (Honda), and Ken Melville (Honda) were in battle for fourth, followed by Zwedorn.

No significant advancements happened over the second lap, but by the third lap Briguet had moved around Smith for second.

DuHamel was now enjoying complete freedom and riding right at 1:58 flat, adding nearly a full second to his lead on every lap.

"Definitely our game plan was to try to breakaway," DuHamel explained. "We were running away really strong through the whole weekends - both of them. We had almost a two second pad on second, may be a bit more. We figured if I got a good start and rode hard the first few laps, and get away, that'd be good 'cause drafting is really important at Daytona. If they draft they can stick with you. I was pretty strong through the infield and through the chicane today, I was really flying, I was doing it better than I've ever done."

Smith was riding a second better than his qualifying time (2:00.148), and had re-taken second from Briguet on lap four. Crevier was at the front of the lively, six rider group contesting fourth, which had been caught by Thomas Stevens, who was gridded at the end of the fourth row and was disgusted with the AMA's timing of his riding in timed qualifying. 

"That (2:00.759) was a real bungle by the AMA—it's BS," said Stevens. "I should have been third or fourth (on the grid)."

Lap five saw Briguet draft Smith and re-claim second, with Bowman, Crevier and Stevens at the front of the battle for fourth, with Melville, Zwedorn, and Moto-Liberty's Gerald Rothman (Honda) looking over their shoulders. Pridmore was tenth, followed by Toland.

"This is all new to me," Toland said. "The World Endurance races are a 24 hour sprint, or an 8 hour sprint, and we run rock tires - you have to let them warm up for a lap or two. After the start, these guys just went for it, they got away. Their times were pretty much about a half second faster than going by myself."

The next lap was good for Stevens, who now was at the front of the group for fourth, but bad for Melville, who crashed out.

Laps seven through ten were largely identical, with DuHamel continuing to add a second to his lead. Briguet headed Smith for second, and Stevens, Crevier, Bowman, and Zwedorn were swapping fourth place around, with Crevier or Stevens owning it more often than the other two.

Smith took back second on lap eleven, as the front runners were catching up with the slower backmarkers. By the next lap the backmarkers had caused Moto-Liberty riders Bowman and Rothman to lose touch with the Stevens-Crevier-Zwedorn horserace.

The traffic worsened by lap thirteen, and both Smith and Briguet were getting messed up by the slower riders. Stevens, Crevier, and Zwedorn caught the moving chicanes by lap fourteen, and Stevens found a way to slip through and put two seconds on his harassers.

"I was watching my lap board, and I knew that it was (time) to go," Stevens said. "I saw the traffic up there and I thought, if I could just stay in front of (Crevier and Zwedorn) until we get to the traffic. Once you start racing, they were able to draft me, and they just kept slowing me up and slowing me up. Once we got to the traffic, I made a good move on one guy and pulled away. I was putting my head down, only four laps to go, just trying to get away from them. Drafting and racing, it just destroys you here. I know everyone wants to run at the front and beat each other, but when you're at the back, you've got to stay in line. It's just like NASCAR: once you start pulling out, you slow down." 

Florida rider Nelson Cardoso fell in Turn One as the leaders were completing lap fifteen, and the red flag was brought out again. Since the race was well past the halfway point, the universal assumption was that the race was over. The announcers called DuHamel to the victory circle, and DuHamel started the standard victory circle thank you speech. 

That's when news came of the AMA's 80 percent rule. 

The common understanding was that if more than 50 percent of the race has been completed, there is no re-start. The little known rule in the rulebook is that if the race is between 50 and 80 percent completed, the race may be called, or may be re-started.

But races are never re-started after 50 percent have been completed, right?

"Not when the weather's nice," said AMA's Merril Vanderslice. "If the weather conditions are bad, then we call it - we've done that plenty of times. If the race goes over 50 percent, then the rulebook says that we may call it a race, but then it also says that you can go on and finish the race, too. We were only at 15 laps, and it would have taken 15 laps to be at 80 percent."

The scheduled race distance was 18 laps; 80 percent of 18 is 14.4 laps. The decision to re-start the race was well received by anyone in fourth place or lower, but the apparent winner DuHamel was against the idea.

"The way I see it, I crossed the line, I put 15 laps in to the record books, so definitely 80 percent has been done. If somebody wants to see a race, they should wait for the Daytona 200."

The riders were gridded for a four lap dash for cash finale using the race standings after fourteen laps.

Smith was first off the line, with DuHamel and Stevens chasing and Rothman doing well to be in fourth after starting from the second row.

Smith was first through the infield and first on to the big banking. DuHamel drafted Smith on the west end banking and reached the chicane first. Smith drafted back on the east end banking to re-claim the lead in his all-out effort to steal the race from DuHamel. 

The program for the 1996 edition of the Daytona 200.

"Smitty was leading, and I was behind him," said DuHamel. "I wanted to pass him, maybe going into the horseshoe, but it was too iffy. I knew I was running stronger through the whole infield, but I just decided to stay behind him. I got the draft and I was thinking, should I pass him before or after the chicane? I was going through the chicane pretty good, so I said, 'maybe I can pass him before the chicane and get enough of a break through the chicane and pull out, and see if he can draft pass.' And he did draft past. So, obviously I was going to make sure that I was not going to let him do that again."

DuHamel's challenged Smith by cutting in front of him at the International horseshoe on the second lap of the re-start, making Smith and third place Stevens get hard on the brakes. This earned DuHamel the break he was looking for - and allowed Yves Briguet to close up to Smith and Stevens.

DuHamel completed the second lap of the re-start 0.82 seconds in front of Smith, who had Stevens and Briguet on his tail. Toland was fifth, and was taking full advantage of the luck bestowed by the red-flag and riding hard right from the green light.

"At the re-start, go to school, put two and two together, don't make the same mistake twice," said Toland.

Bowman was sixth, Zwedorn was seventh, Rothman eighth, and Crevier a disappointing ninth.

"I got a decent start," Crevier explained. "I was on the backstraight, I went as deep as everybody else on the brakes. I spiked them, and hopped my front wheel. Then I decided to straighten up and rode off the chicane, not through it. Rode off the exit rode and I re-entered maybe back in tenth or so. With four laps to go I picked off as many positions as I could."

DuHamel stretched his lead to 1.8 seconds by the start of the white flag lap, with Smith, Stevens and Briguet all having a good shot at second. Toland was somewhat secure in fifth, Zwedorn was up to sixth, Crevier seventh, Rothman eighth, and Bowman had dropped back to ninth.

DuHamel won by 3.65 seconds, but all eyes were on the Smith-Stevens-Briguet quarrel. Briguet pressured the two Kawasaki riders through the infield, and then drafted both on the west-end banking to hold second place coming into the chicane.

"Mike had a little bit of steam, and was riding really well," said Stevens. "Fortunately Briguet caught up with Mike's bike. That Briguet guy started racing with Mike, and basically slowed those two guys up, and went double draft. When they went double draft, I was able to make some time on them. They went two wide in front of me going into the chicane, and I thought, well, hopefully I'll put it in the winner's circle. I just kinda slipped around that Briguet guy, his bike was running really well. Everyone was riding hard, it was a mad dash to the finish."

"I was second at the chicane, after 200 meters, no way, I was fourth," said Briguet.

Less than a second covered the Smith, Stevens and Briguet finish.

Briguet thought he earned third on combined times from the two legs, and went to the winner's circle. There he learned that the AMA does not use the FIM system of combined times, only the final leg results determines the overall finishing order.

"It's strange, because the first fifteen laps count for nothing," said an unhappy Briguet. "In the FIM rules, you have to take the two times and make the total."

DuHamel was happier, though. "It went really well out there. It was tight racing, of course. On a four lap race, nobody is going to be giving anything away. I wanted to go from the start, but I took just a little too much of a cautious start there. The Smokin' Joes crew had my bike ready to go, they pumped me full of confidence  - 'we've got a four lap set-up for you, were ready go'. I'm really happy.

"I take my hat off to Miguel, 'cause I rode as hard as I could," Smith said. "Miguel, he just pulled a little bit on us, he was just a better rider today. This Muzzy Kawasaki, once I get used to this thing, this thing really rocks and rolls coming up the front straightaway. We had everybody in check, as far as horsepower. But if we get a little more time on this thing, we'll put this Muzzy Kawasaki number one again."

"It's really good to be back in the winner's circle," said Stevens, who lasted visited the podium when he finished third in the 1995 Daytona 200. "Last year was really tough. But we're back, and I think the Kinko's Kawasaki is working good. We just need to work a little bit harder so we can go ahead and win one of these things, instead of finishing third."

Fittingly, for a race that took nearly a week to get started, it will probably take a week or more to finalize the results. Rob Muzzy filed two protests against Miguel DuHamel after the race; one protest was on equipment (wheel material and triple clamp geometry), and the other was for riding infractions (taking the motorcycle behind the pit wall during the red flag, and riding reverse course during the red flag). The AMA disallowed the riding protest by the end of race day, but the mechanical inspection had to wait until the proper measuring equipment was available.

Miguel Duhamel pulled off the Daytona Double, scoring victory in the 600 Supersport race as well as the 200. Here Duhamel proves that Honda’s CBR600, even though it was supposed to be close to stock as Supersport machine, was not lacking in rear-wheel horsepower. (Henny Ray Abrams photo)
Muzzy: "It's Still Not Legal..."

"My only argument EVER with the AMA is this inconsistency with their rules," Rob Muzzy said after filing two protests against Miguel DuHamel immediately following the conclusion of the 600 Supersport race at Daytona.

The two protests covered alleged riding infractions by DuHamel during the red flag period, and a request to have the wheel material and triple clamp geometry checked.

Although Muzzy was directly protesting DuHamel, his words made it clear that his ire was directed at the AMA.

"Miguel DuHamel left the course, and rode backwards on the course after the red flag," Muzzy explained. 

"In 1990, we lost the 600 Supersport championship based on the same thing. Mid-Ohio, they red flag the race, the guy at the end of the pit lane motioned Scott Russell, told him to go back to his pit. He did so, and we were penalized a lap for riding backwards on the track, regardless of the fact that there was an official that told us to so it.

"Those points would have won us the championship. So, as far as I'm concerned, it's still not legal to ride backwards on the track, no matter who tells us to do it."

"Second of all, Miguel DuHamel left the track area, and went in to (victory circle). Parked (in victory circle). If you come behind the pit wall, as far as I know, you've left the grid. So those are two things."

"I fully realize that somebody told (DuHamel) to do it. But it cost us the championship. 
"In 1990, we lost the 600 Supersport championship based on the same thing. Mid-Ohio, they red flag the race, the guy at the end of the pit lane motioned Scott Russell, told him to go back to his pit. He did so, and we were penalized a lap for riding backwards on the track, regardless of the fact that there was an official that told us to so it.
"The other protest, we just thought we'd keep  them honest, and check the material of the wheels,  and the offset of the triple clamps. Not that we think that they're cheating, we just got to keep tabs on them—we don't feel that the AMA does a proper job." 

"The 80 percent rule is another thing, the race should have been called. It went 80 percent, 14.4 laps is 80 percent."

"So the race should not have been re-started. That's none of my concern. I mean, it's wrong, but there's no value to me to protesting it, it won't gain me anything."

Smokin' Joes team owner Martin Adams was not concerned about the AMA ruling in Muzzy's favor. "It's going to be a nice supper tonight, on Muzzy."

DuHamel was singing the same song as Adams.

"From the way I understand it, lunch is on Rob. That's what (Smokin' Joes wrench) Al Ludington told me, 'cause our bikes are 100 percent stock,  no problem with that. That's not a problem."

"The way I look at it, Muzzy did two of them, and they're $250 a pop. So Merlin Plumlee thanked me for getting him new forks for his mountain bike. Al said let's go out to lunch and have a lot of beers, and it's all on Rob's tab.

"I know they also tried to protest me because I went to the victory circle, but I was called there, by one of the announcers, to come on down. I just came down there real slow. I can't even see how I got an advantage." 

The AMA road race manager, Ron Barrick, had disallowed the riding protests by the end of the day. 

The Muzzy versus The World war of words in not over yet.
— ends —
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