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Rapp represents GEICO well with sixth-place finish in Daytona 200
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 16) -- Fill-in rider Steve Rapp rode the GEICO Motorcycle Honda to an admirable sixth-place result Saturday at the 72 annual Daytona 200. Rapp was a last-minute replacement for team rider Dane Westby, who bruised his spleen in a practice session crash Thursday afternoon.
"It was a solid ride and I'm fairly pleased with the result," Rapp said. "First race for Honda and we were the top finisher besides the Yamahas in the field, so that's a real good start for the team. It was fun to ride the bike. It's a nice motorcycle, for sure.
"I actually kept the same front tire on the bike the whole race and I didn't feel like it really started working until about lap 40. That's when I was able to pick up the pace a little and gain some positions."
Cameron Beaubier won the race, crushing second-place pro Garrett Gerloff by more than 22 seconds. Unlike a year ago when a large pack of riders streaked across the finish line at virtually the same time, Saturday's race got very stretched out with large gaps between the podium finishers. Only five riders finished on the lead lap despite circuit times of 1:50+ seconds. Rapp was lapped by Beaubier in the last 100 feet.
Rapp, the 2007 winner of this event, had just three sessions to acquaint himself with Westby's CBR600. The veteran rider was up to the task, methodically moving up from his 11th place starting position to his final sixth-place perch. He was actually passed by Beaubier with a few laps left but he quickly took the position back and successfully held him in check until the final stretch run when Beaubier rode the draft past him.
"I didn't even know he was lapping me," Rapp said. "My pit board said I was plus-3 so I knew someone was pretty close. He passed me but I was able to draft back around him. I was just riding hard, hitting my spots to protect my position.
"Once I found my confidence I was able to pretty much do what I wanted. It takes at least a little time to get on a bike you've never ridden before and ride to the limits. I was a little cautious early because I didn't want to wreck out. This race was obviously very important to GEICO and Honda and all the other sponsors so it was crucial to finish."