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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (June 22, 2012) - The surging Josh Hayes kept the momentum going on Friday at Barber Motorsports Park to kick off this weekend's Triumph SuperBike Classic presented by America's First Federal Credit Union, round six of the 2012 AMA Pro Road Racing Championship.
Reigning AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike champ Hayes came into Alabama with a full head of steam, recently assembling a pair of perfect points haul weekends while scoring three consecutive blowout victories. However, Hayes noted that even though the pressure may be on his adversaries to step up their games to respond, he's also feeling pressure to maintain his strong run of form -- no simple feat at a circuit where he's yet to stand atop the National Guard SuperBike podium. Hayes was on fire in Friday's brutally hot and humid conditions, lapping faster than his pole time from a year ago at 1:25.696. The Monster Energy Graves Yamaha rider was the only man to break into the '25s on the day.
"I can tell you this morning I was incredibly nervous when I rolled out on the track," Hayes admitted. "I think that Miller and Road America, I set the bar so high for myself here, which has not been one of my better racetracks. You'd think I'd come in very, very confident, but I kind of have this head of steam rolling and if I come here and I can't continue a trend where I'm setting the pace, I'm going to be... that would be a pretty hard one to swallow."
Of the 90-degree heat which is expected to continue throughout the weekend (and perhaps even intensify), the Mississippian remarked, "Qualifying here in the late afternoon is always difficult. Races here are very difficult. I would expect tomorrow morning will be the best lap times we see all weekend because at 9:00am it will be cooler than it is now with the heat soaking in all day. Races and long-distance stuff are always pretty tough for us here because it just gets really, really greasy and a lot of work out there."
Josh Hayes rolls out of his pit area on the #1 Graves Yamaha Motorsports Monster Energy YZF-R1 en route to taking the provisional pole at round 6 on Friday at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, AL. AMA Pro Road Racing photo by Brian J. Nelson.
"We've actually changed quite a few things on the motorcycle this weekend, different than usual because this has been a particularly tough track for me. I'm trying to really improve in a few areas so we can not only go faster but stay a little more consistent and not drop off so much time with sloppy laps. It feels like a lot of work out there because it's just so hot out right now. But I'm having fun."
Geoff May was also in rapid form on Friday, falling just short of the '25s while lapping second to Hayes on the Team Amsoil/Hero EBR 1190RS. The tight and twisty characteristics of Barber Motorsports Park were considered likely to suit the EBR and May proved that to be the case in provisional qualifying by posting a 1:26.061. Jordan Suzuki's Ben Bostrom, who was narrowly denied a BMP Superbike victory a year ago by Martin Cardenas, was third best at 1:26.153. The Californian was followed by Hayes' fast-rising teammate, Josh Herrin, who rounded out the provisional front row at 1:26.458. SuperBike title hopeful Blake Young ranked third deep into the session but lost his opportunity to maintain or better his placement when he crashed his #79 Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 with less than ten minutes remaining in the session. He was dropped to fifth as a result.
Young, who boasts a pair of Barber Motorsports Park SuperBike victories to his credit, is shooting for a huge weekend in hopes of reeling the escaping Hayes back into a tightened title fight. Contemplating the speed of his competition, provisional poleman Hayes said, "There are a few other guys who are going a pretty good pace and I don't know if they can do it over the distance that I can right now. Blake is obviously feeling a bit of pressure -- he's trying real hard. I heard that he pitched it away out there; in this heat it's pretty easy to make mistakes. I've been very close quite a few times to being on the ground today because it's so hot and greasy and you're trying to push for a time." National Guard Jordan Suzuki's Roger Hayden was sixth with Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing's Larry Pegram seventh on the BMW and second EBR pilot, Team Hero's Danny Eslick, completing the provisional second row.
Hayes will look to keep his perfect pole streak alive on Saturday morning before turning his attention to his quest to score a first career Barber SuperBike victory in the afternoon.
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike
M4 Suzuki's Dane Westby was quickest in AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike qualifying on Friday with a mark of 1:28.113. Westby jumped to the top late in the session and "The Wolverine" put in a strong bid to win his first-ever pole. "It was a good lap and I think that's what the race pace is going to be. There was a lot of time in the soft tire and if we can run the whole race on the soft tire, I think we can run that pace in the race," said Westby, who added he found a breakthrough in his riding after the Elkhart Lake round.
Tommy Hayden on the Y.E.S/Graves/Yamaha YZF-R6 was second, with the veteran consistently quick in both sessions on Friday. His teammate Cameron Beaubier was on his heels in qualifying and both finished quicker than DSB points leader Martin Cardenas of GEICO Suzuki.
The provisional second row boasts a strong line-up, too. Bobby Fong (Meen Motorsports) Jason DiSalvo (Latus Motors Racing Triumph) Benny Solis (Kneedraggers.com Yamaha) and Huntley Nash (LTD Racing) were quick enough to earn a spot in the top eight.
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport
Dustin Domniguez lapped under the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport lap record on Friday, earning the provisional pole for his Latus Motors Racing squad. Dominguez topped Utah winner Hayden Gillim (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull) and points leader James Rispoli (Orient Express Celtic Racing) and the last race's fast man Jake Lewis in a tough provisional front row.
"It was a good lap, but it's not about going fast for us this weekend," said Dominguez. "This is an East coast round so we're out to get all the point we can get."
SPEED2 Live Streaming Broadcasts and Live Timing & Scoring
Follow along live as the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport and AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series riders battle it out by logging onto http://www.speed2.com. SPEED2 is a broadband service available to customers of Time Warner, Bright House Networks, Cablevision, DISH and Cox. For more information and instructions on gaining access to all of the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com and AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series races, please review the SPEED2 FAQ located at http://www.speed2.com/faq.
Live Timing & Scoring of all on-track sessions is available at http://live.amaproracing.com/rr/. Between the races, stay connected with AMA Pro Road Racing at www.twitter.com/AMAProSBK and www.facebook.com/AMAProRoadRacing.
Tickets for the Triumph SuperBike Classic start at just $15 and can be purchased at www.barbermotorsports.com. Kids 15 and under are admitted free with a ticketed adult.
While at Barber Motorsports Park, fans are also encouraged to visit the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, a 144,000 square foot home to the largest private collection of motorcycles, representing 20 countries and over 200 manufacturers. Tickets to the Museum are available for an additional fee and can be purchased at the door.
AMA Pro Racing is the premier professional motorcycle racing organization in North America, operating a full schedule of events and championships for a variety of motorcycle disciplines. Learn more about AMA Pro Racing at www.amaproracing.com.
For additional information contact:
AMA Pro Racing Communications, (386) 492-1014, firstname.lastname@example.org