Miguel Duhamel, a five-time winner of the Daytona 200, will be on the grid for the 2009 running of the world-famous race, aboard a Suzuki GSX-R600 backed by a collection of his friends and Canadian sponsors, anchored around Team Suzuki Blackfoot Picotte Racing. Miguel will be going for a sixth win, to break the record of five wins he shares with Scott Russell, another legend in AMA racing. For his part, young phenom Brett McCormick will race in his first AMA Superbike event.
The list of supporters who have a hand in the effort runs like a Who's-Who of Canadian motorcycle road racing: Pascal Picotte and the Picotte Racing crew, Pat Chambers from Blackfoot Racing, Alan Labrosse (Another ex bike racer and Miguel's personal manager), Jim Allen from Dunlop Tires, chassis and suspension guru Dale Rathwell, Suzuki Canada, and Parts Canada. Additional support will come from Öhlins suspension, and, of course, Don Sakakura, the boss at Yoshimura Racing, the American manufacturer of race parts for Suzuki machines.
Project instigators Alan Labrosse, Miguel and Pascal Picotte were swept up in a wave of interest, and passion, on the part of the other partners. After losing his ride with Honda of America too late to secure a competitive machine for 2009 in the US, both Miguel and Alan started looking for a creative way to get Miguel in the Daytona 200.
According to Alan, the Canadian approach made sense. "We have all the skills and experience up here to win the 200. We needed to get the personnel and financial resources together, and fired up enough to set aside the time and budget to do it. And now, three weeks before the race, we have a go! Let me tell you that things will be a little bit emotional for us on the grid. And if Miguel wins - Boy!"
For Pascal, helping Miguel to a possible sixth win is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. "We can help the winningest rider in AMA history achieve a unique record - that opportunity does not come by often, and our whole team wants to do it - 24-hour days and all. We are building two race bikes and three race engines for Miguel, and two race bikes for Brett, as well as creating special equipment for quick wheel changes and fuelling, and assembling a crew of at least ten people to work at the track. We actually started working on the project a few days ago, before the partners were all confirmed. This is a passion thing for all of us, and we are going there to win the 200, and get a top ten finish in the Superbike race!"
Pat Chambers, owner of Blackfoot Suzuki and a major contributor to the effort, fell in love with the project right from the start. "We are elated at the opportunity to participate in a Canadian effort to put our greatest motorcycle road racer ever on a competitive machine for the biggest race of the season in the US. It gets even better than that, as Brett McCormick, the new Team Suzuki Blackfoot Picotte Racing rider, will run in the American Superbike race the same week end." Pat was also glad to see other Canadian sponsors come on board. "Suzuki Canada was also thrilled to see Miguel Duhamel aboard our bikes, and Parts Canada are also helping out with the effort. I can't wait to see how both our riders will do against the mighty competition from down south."
As Pascal added, "The opportunity to put Brett on the track for the Superbike race is an excellent chance for us to get a jump on the 2009 Parts Canada Superbike Championship. The team will learn what Brett looks for in the bikes, and Brett will learn about riding the track and about bike set-up from Miguel, myself, as well as from Dale Rathwell, also a winner in the 200 with multiple World Champion and racing legend Eddie Lawson."