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2024 Daytona 200 Preview | Can Hickman, Cooper bring the thunder and take Daytona by storm?

Daytona Speedway

The 2024 Daytona 200 is upon us once more as the great and good of America’s domestic motorcycle racing scene prepare for their annual run on the banks of the famed Florida venue for the chance to take home one of the sport’s most historic titles.

This year will herald the 82nd edition of the event that can count the likes of Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey, Kevin Schwantz, Scott Russell and the late Nicky Hayden among its illustrious race-winning alumni.

The centrepiece of motorcycle racing in the United States, it’s an event that has been broadly dominated by local favourites over the past eight decades with the most recent non-American to lift the trophy being Chaz Davies back in 2008.


His is one of only nine victories achieved by an international visitor since 1937 but while the home front line is certainly strong once more this year, a small but high-calibre ‘delegation’ from overseas might very well upset the formbook in 2024 [7-9 March].

The Daytona 200 - Motorcycle racing. Supersized.

Raising the interest rates on the bank

While the Daytona 200 can trace its roots right back to the pre-WWII era, its significance and prestigiousness - much like the American motorcycle racing scene - has fluctuated in the decades since.

In its heyday, the Daytona 200 was regarded as a blue riband date on the racing calendar on a par with other iconic events like the Isle of Man TT, Suzuka 8 Hours and Imola 200 capable of attracting grand prix-calibre racers like Giacomo Agostini, Carl Fogarty and Troy Bayliss over to the sunny climes of Florida.

However, the shimmer in this jewel would fade over time - particularly during the difficult latter years of the AMA era - with the Daytona 200 generating only modest interest outside of North America, while safety concerns would see it recategorised from being a Superbike event to a (less desirable) Supersport one.

Bit-by-bit, however, the Daytona 200 - again like the American motorcycle racing scene - is enjoying something of a revival under the steer of Wayne Rainey’s MotoAmerica organising body, which together with a positive change to Supersport regulations has seen a spike in interest both domestically and internationally.

Peter Hickman and Richard Cooper - name me a more multi-talented pairing...

Foreign objectives - Can Hickman, Cooper, Fores break the bank?

It means the 2024 Daytona 200 can count some overseas wild-card all-comers among a healthy homegrown talent pool for those who like a flutter.


Leading the international delegation is the current force of road racing, Peter Hickman, who makes his long-awaited debut at Daytona as he bids to add another prestigious title to his already diverse repertoire.

At present the fastest man around a lap of Snaefell Mountain Course at the Isle of Man TT and a multiple race winner in the British Superbike Championship, Hickman should feel right at home around Daytona with its full-throttle wall-lined oval sections and technical infield flip-flops.

He won’t be alone in flying the UK flag either with the multi-talented Richard Cooper returning to Florida some 16 years on from his debut performance, while both will benefit from factory Triumph support in conjunction with Hickman’s PHR Performance operation, plus a bit of support from FHO Racing too.

Hickman and Cooper represent two of four British riders who will be crossing the pond with the brothers Truelove - Harry and Matt - also taking on the locals aboard a pair of privately-run Suzuki GSX-R750 machines. 


Among the other riders doing their bit of Europe’s unofficial ‘Daytona Ryder Cup’ team will be ex-WorldSBK and BSB rider Xavi Fores, the dominant force of Supersport in MotoAmerica last season.

It means the Spaniard will have the honour of wearing the #1 plate at Daytona, but - having won his title on the Warhorse HSBK Ducati Panigale V2 - will this year target a first ‘200’ win on a Yamaha R6 entered by MotoAmerica Superbike Champions Attack Performance.

Elsewhere, Endurance World Champions YART (Yamaha Austria Racing Team) will also be present, with its title-winning trio Marvin Fritz, Karel Hanika and Niccolo Canepa going solo in the pursuit for glory.

The Ben Spies-managed, Graham Rahal founded Rahal Ducati Moto team set for Daytona debut

Can American stars earn their stripes?

All-comers notwithstanding, there remains no substitute for local knowledge with a wealth of born and bred home hopes bidding to join that illustrious roll-call.

Among a vast 67-strong rider line-up are three of the event’s most recent winners; Reigning champion Josh Herrin will attempt to defend his crown on the Warhorse HSBK Ducati Panigale V2, Brandon Paasch will seek a third victory in four years, this time on Suzuki machinery after previous wins with Yamaha and Triumph, while Danny Eslick goes for win number five on a Triumph.

Since the Daytona 200 is classified as a non-championship standalone event with no bearing on the MotoAmerica Championship points’ standings, there will be a handful of elite riders from the MotoAmerica Superbike class on track, including Josh Hayes (CSU One Cure Yamaha), Richie Escalante (Vision M4 Ecstar Suzuki), Bobby Fong (Wrench Suzuki) and Hayden Gillim (Vesrah Suzuki).

Then there is the intriguing new Rahal Ducati Moto outfit, founded by IndyCar racer Graham Rahal, himself the son of American racing legend Bobby Rahal.

More than that though, the team will be headed up by 2009 WorldSBK Champion and ex-MotoGP rider Ben Spies and feature a quality line-up that includes PJ Jacobsen and Corey Alexander, plus exciting teenage sensation Kayla Yaakov, who has taken MotoAmerica by storm with her rapid and successful rise through the junior ranks.

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