News 5 Jun 2010

AMA SBK: Hayes and Eslick top Friday at Road America

Josh Hayes continued his positive trend in AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike competition Friday by topping the charts late in both afternoon sessions to get on the provisional pole for this weekend’s Suzuki SuperBike Doubleheader at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin’s Road America.

Under overcast skies and drying track conditions following a morning rain, Hayes pushed his No. 4 Team Graves Yamaha YZR-R1 to a lap time of 2:14.168 in the second-to-last lap of practice and improved on that in qualifying, posting a time of 2:14.002 with a last-lap flyer on his backup bike.

The Mississippian has shown steady improvement since his opening round finish of 13th at Daytona International Speedway in March, earning four podiums and one pole in the last five races.

“I came in to get a tire to go out and see if I could get a good time while it was fresh to finish up the session,” Hayes commented on his qualifying run. “I immediately had an issue, I couldn’t quite put a finger on what the problem was so I just carefully rode the bike back in.

“We swapped the wheels from one bike to another and I went out cold on that bike and got one flying lap and it worked well. It’s actually confidence inspiring to know that I have two motorcycles.

“If I go out and press my luck and try to find some time in practice and tip over I know that I have another good motorcycle there ready to go. It takes some pressure off of me and allows me to see if I can up the ante on these guys without worrying about making mistakes.”

Second in qualifying was Tommy Hayden on the No. 22 Rockstar Makita Suzuki GSX-R1000, who continues to show consistency this season with a laptime of 2:14.337.

Hayden earned his breakthrough SuperBike victory in race two at Auto Club Speedway in March and has amassed five podiums in the season’s eight races.

Larry Pegram posted the third fastest time of the session with a laptime of 2:14.669. Pegram earned his first SuperBike wins in 10 years with back-to-back victories at last year’s Road America event.

Martin Cardenas’ No. 36 M4 Monster Energy Suzuki GSX-R600 came out of the box fast and to post a qualifying laptime of 2:21.136, good for the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike provisional pole for this weekend’s Suzuki SuperBike Doubleheader at Road America.

Cardenas’ 2010 season has been anything but dull, claiming four victories in seven Daytona SportBike races after a disappointing early-race crash and 44th place finish in the Daytona 200 season opener.

The Colombian is no stranger to success at 4.05-mile natural road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, winning last year’s Daytona SportBike race two barn-burner in bold fashion with a last-lap, last-turn pass over this year’s American SuperBike points leader Jake Zemke.

“As soon as I started practice in the morning I felt pretty good,” Cardenas said. “The bike was working great. We didn’t have to make any changes to it, I could just ride it.

“I have always liked this track, I think it’s very important here to brake very deep and I think I’m good at that. Maybe that’s the strongest point that I have here. I’m hoping for a good race tomorrow and if it’s not raining, another good qualifying run.”

2010 Daytona 200 winner Josh Herrin piloted his No. 8 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6 to second fastest in today’s qualifying session with a lap of 2:21.190 after leading the charts in the practice session earlier in the afternoon.

Third fastest was Dane Westby’s No. 2 Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha YZF-R6 with a time of 2:21.444. Westby has finished in the top five in six races this season, earning three podiums in the process.