AFT American Flat Track Series
Round 1: Daytona TT at Daytona International Speedway
Courtesy of Daytona International Speedway
Photo courtesy of John Light/Evans Coolant
DAYTONA BEACH, FL, MAR. 16, 2017
A reinvented series, a new track layout, and the inherent excitement of Bike Week At Daytona combined to make for a dynamic debut for the Daytona TT on Thursday night, March 16, 2017, with Jared Mees winning the headlining AFT Twins main event on an Indian Scout FTR750.
The Daytona TT opened the debut season for the newly rebranded American Flat Track Series, and competitors were greeted by a challenging six-tenths-mile dirt-track course in the Daytona International Speedway’s tri-oval area. Mees, who hails from Clio, Michigan, met the challenge, to say the least: He led all 25 laps of the main event, beating last year’s Flat Track National Champion, Bryan Smith, on the Indian Scout FTR750, by 9.174 seconds. Henry Wiles, on a Kawasaki Ninja 650, finished third.
In the process, history was made. Mees gave the Indian Motorcycle Company its first Daytona victory since Floyd Emde won the Daytona 200 back in 1948.
“Right after the semifinal, we made a couple adjustments with the bike, moved some things around,” Mees said. “Then I got a great start. That was the key.”
Eighteen-year-old Dalton Gauthier of Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, riding a KTM 450 SX-F, got by Wyatt Anderson, on a TM 450 SX-F, on the last turn of the last lap to win the 15-lap AFT Singles main event. Anderson, who finished second, led from the green flag until Gauthier’s inside pass.
“Seeing that I was close enough to make a pass, I just stuck it underneath,” Gauthier said.
The three AFT Twins heats were won by Smith, Mees, and Donald Mullen II, on a Kawasaki Ninja 650. The four AFT Singles heats were swept by Honda CRF450R riders Jesse Janisch, Ferran Cardus, Kolby Carlile and Tristan Avery. The top eight finishers in each heat advanced to respective semifinals.
Last-chance qualifying races advanced the top four finishers to the semis. The AFT Twins LCQ was won by Kawasaki Ninja 650 pilot Robert Pearson. The AFT Singles LCQ went to Beau Thompson, on a Honda CRF450R.
Twins semifinal winners were Yamaha FZ07-mounted Michael Rush and Kawasaki Ninja 650 rider Bronson Bauman. Singles semifinals winners were Gauthier and Anderson. Semifinals advanced the top nine riders to main events.
Bike Week At Daytona wraps up on Saturday with the 76th running of the Daytona 200 road-race classic. The storied event dates to 1937; it was held from 1936 to 1960 on the old Daytona beach-road course that utilized both the Atlantic Ocean shoreline and State Road A1A. In 1961, the race moved to Daytona International Speedway. The 2017 edition of the Daytona 200 will take the green flag at 1 p.m. on Saturday.