SONOMA, Calif. (May 4, 2012) - Defending AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Champion Josh Hayes was widely expected to put on a show in this weekend's Great Clips West Coast Moto Jam at Infineon Raceway. And on Friday's opening day of action, he did not disappoint. Hayes earned his status as the heavy pre-race favorite based on both his early-season form (two wins, two poles, four lap leader points, and the championship lead) and track record in Sonoma (four of the last six SuperBike wins). The Monster Energy Graves Yamaha man proceeded to live up to that advanced billing by claiming the provisional pole aboard his #1 YZF-R1 with nearly a full second to spare on the strength of a fast time of 1:36.032.
However, despite the one-sided leaderboard in his favor, Hayes stated that he hopes to improve significantly overnight. "All-in-all, we seemed to be able to put together some decent laps," Hayes said. "We had a good run of laps in the '36s. I think we'll definitely go and sit down and see if we can make some improvements and make the bike a bit better. I've kind of been on about the same pace it seems like for three years and I definitely want to see if I can increase our pace a little bit and make some headway on what we've been doing for the last couple years. We're going to sit down in the truck, take a look at things, and hopefully tomorrow morning we'll go about implementing some of those changes."
Josh Hayes on the #1 Monster Energy Graves Motorsports Yamaha YZF-R1 set fast time to take the provisional pole at Infineon Raceway on Friday May 4, 2012. AMA Pro Road Racing photo by Brian J. Nelson.
The double class champ managed his quick time despite the day's windy conditions, which directly led to a red flag midway through the session. The wind repeatedly resulted in riders misjudging their corner entrance, forcing them to cut the course as they were pushed deep entering the chicane. Hayes explained, "With a tailwind blowing you in there and then a couple of gusts, it's actually really difficult getting it stopped. Even on my fast lap I missed the apex pretty bad and was pretty slow around the second part of it."
While the lion's share of the attention understandably centers on the rivalry of Hayes and last season's AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike runner-up, Blake Young, the two were split up on the Friday order by another intriguing story. The Yoshimura Racing Suzuki star was relegated to fourth on Friday by the twin EBRs of reigning AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike Champion Danny Eslick and his teammate, Geoff May. Eslick narrowly put the Team Hero Moto EBR 1190RS second on the day at 1:36.976, just edging ahead of May's AMSOIL Hero Moto EBR 1190RS (1:36.983) and Young's Yoshimura Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000 (1:36.985).
Hayes praised the fast-rising EBR riders, who are quickly becoming a factor near the front of the National Guard SuperBike field: "The boys are riding them pretty well I guess. This might end up to be a good racetrack for them. I did see Geoff this morning -- and the one thing I noticed is the bike doesn't wheelie that much. He jumped off the last turn and actually had a really good run. If you can utilize a bike that does that well, there are a lot of areas of this racetrack that will play to your favor."
In what proved to be an exceptionally tight qualifying session outside of the clear leadership of Hayes, Jordan Suzuki's Ben Bostrom was pushed down to Row 2 despite running just two tenths off the runner-up at 1:37.193. Bostrom was joined on the provisional second row by Kneedraggers.com/Motul/Fly Racing Suzuki pilot David Anthony, EvanSteelPerformance.com BMW's Jake Holden, and National Guard Jordan Suzuki's Roger Hayden.
Attack Performance Kawasaki's Steve Rapp and KTM/HMC Racing's Chris Fillmore rounded out the top ten while Road Atlanta double-podium finisher Josh Herrin ranked in 11th. The rookie worked hard to acclimate himself to the difficult task of hustling a powerful 200+ horsepower SuperBike around the tight and twisty confines of Infineon Raceway.
Hayes will look to keep his perfect bonus point streak intact in Saturday morning's final qualifying session, prior to shifting his focus to the day's 22-lap AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike final.
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike
Castrol Triumph Latus Motors pilot Jason DiSalvo was tough at Infineon Raceway on Friday, leading the Daytona SportBike class with a time of 1:38.159. DiSalvo won both the class races at Infineon Raceway last year. On Friday, he said he felt like "a metronome" as he clicked off fast laps. "We'd made some small changes all throughout the session and I think that lap was the culmination of three or four adjustments," said DiSalvo.
A strong wind was a factor on Friday, but Cameron Beaubier was second fastest in his first event back after an injury. Beaubier (Y.E.S. /Graves/Yamaha) was able to hold back series points leader Martin Cardenas (GEICO Suzuki). Jake Gagne (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull) earned the provisional front row as the newcomer continues to impress.
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport
In AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport, Dustin Dominguez set the fastest time of the session to earn provisional pole on his Castrol Triumph Daytona 675. Dominguez, who earned third place in the last events at Road Atlanta, set his fast time on his final lap. "We're continuing to get better every lap," said Dominguez.
Joining him were Hayden Gillim (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull), series leader James Rispoli (Orient Express Celtic Racing) and local rider Cameron Gish (Z2 Racing). The class boasts 54 entries set to qualify for this weekend's doubleheader.
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