NEW ORLEANS, La. (October 5, 2012) - With the 2012 AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike title already captured, Josh Hayes is on a mission to end his epic GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing season with an exclamation point this weekend at NOLA Motorsports Park. Competing just over an hour's drive away from his hometown of Gulfport, Mississippi, Hayes is motivated to deliver for his large contingent of fans and did so in impressive fashion on Friday at the Triumph Big Kahuna New Orleans presented by Dunlop Tire and LeoVince.
Hayes dominated the opening qualifying session, snatching up provisional pole by nearly a full second with a best time of 1:39.943 around the brand-new 16-turn, 2.75-mile facility. The Monster Energy Graves Yamaha rider has already assembled what may go down as the greatest season in series' history, and another conquering weekend would only cement that bid. A tenth pole would tie him with Mat Mladin (2005) for the most ever in a single SuperBike season.
Josh Hayes and the #1 Graves Motorsports Monster Energy Yamaha team are shown during day one activities at the season-finale at NOLA Motorsports Park today where Hayes led early qualifying at the new stop on the Geico Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing calendar. Hayes sewed up his 3rd AMA Superbike Championship during that last round at Homestead-Miami. AMA Pro Road Racing photo by Brian J. Nelson.
However, Friday was not without its challenges. The new track proved exceptionally hard on tires and the champ also suffered a crash during the day. Hayes spent much of the day just riding around on worn, hard tires, preparing for the possibility of racing in those conditions. "What's the most adjustable thing on the motorcycle? The wingnut behind the handlebars," Hayes explained. "Give me time to go out and ride the thing around the racetrack and see everything and wait until tomorrow when there's a little more rubber on the track before we even start worrying about if the softer tires going to be able to do race distance. But right now I'm pretty fast on the hard stuff so I'm feeling pretty good about it."
If Hayes can put together one more double-win weekend, he'll up his career win total to 33, moving ahead of Miguel DuHamel for second place all time, not to mention increasing his single-season wins record to 16. Not content to rest on that success, Hayes is already eying a way to not only continue that unstoppable form in 2013, but up his game even further. He said, "I'm excited about next year. I think everything is going to be the same on my end -- it's looking that way. I have a good thing going; I hate that we're going to take a bunch of time off. I had that really good run and then we took that time off to New Jersey and it kind of felt hard to come back and get going again. This one is going to be a long time. I sure like riding these things and I wish we had more days in the offseason that we got to ride them on tracks that we race at. It's been an incredible year. Probably the first time all year, within the last week and a half, I said, 'Man, I'm tired.' I didn't really notice. I've been pretty focused and I trained really hard this year. I did quite a bit more than in years past and took everything up a notch. I'm looking forward to getting right back to it and seeing if I can do the same thing again. I took my training up one notch -- I know there's another notch there. We're going to try to do it just a little bit better."
The biggest threat to Hayes this weekend is the same man who ended his pole and win streaks last time out: Roger Hayden. The National Guard Jordan Suzuki ace scored his first-career AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike pole and race victory last time out at Homestead-Miami Speedway and will be eager to immediately add to that tally this weekend. The Kentuckian was second best on Friday, lapping at 1:40.941 to narrowly displace Yoshimura Suzuki's Blake Young (1:40.962) for the position late. Young earned three early-season victories and will also be looking to end his season on a high note. The final spot on the provisional front row went to Team Hero EBR's Danny Eslick, who claimed a stirring runner-up result at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The provisional second row is headed by Jordan Suzuki's Ben Bostrom, with Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing's Larry Pegram (BMW), Team Venezuela's Robertino Pietri, and Team Amsoil/Hero EBR's Geoff May. KTM/HMC Racing's Chris Fillmore, Riders Discount K&L Supply's Taylor Knapp, Kneedraggers.com/Motul/Fly Racing's David Anthony, and EvanSteelPerformance.com BMW's Aaron Yates round out a talented Row 3 heading into Saturday's final qualifying session.
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike
Cameron Beaubier (Y.E.S./Graves/Yamaha) was quickest in opening qualifying session for AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike. Beaubier emerged on top with a laptime of 1:42.958 after the checkered flag had flown and was the final competitor to improve the fastest mark of the session in the waning moments. Meen Motorsports' Bobby Fong looked to have locked up the provisional pole when his lap of 1:43.083 went to the top of the charts, but moments late Beaubier bested him. "To tell you the truth, I didn't even know it was Bobby. I just saw 'P2' on my pit board," said Cameron. "I was pushing really hard on the last lap and my lap timer said I went 1:43.2, a little slower than my actual time, so I was kinda bummed out. But they told me I had done a 1:42.9. I like the track. It has a really cool layout and is fast and flowing." Miami winner Jake Gagne of RoadRace Factory/Red Bull Yamaha was third, a shade more than a tenth behind Fong. Series champion Martin Cardenas was fourth in his first race after locking up the 2012 title. The GEICO Suzuki pilot is now a two-time GoPro Daytona SportBike champ after winning seven races this year. Tommy Aquino was fifth on the Kneedraggers.com Yamaha.
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport
RoadRace Factory/Red Bull's Hayden Gillim earned provisional pole in AMA Pro Motorcycle-SuperStore.com SuperSport on Friday in the first day of action at NOLA Motorsports Park. Gillim, the winner at Utah earlier this year, put his stamp on the session early and ended it on top of title hopeful James Rispoli (Celtic Racing Orient Express) and Garrett Gerloff (Y.E.S./Graves/Yamaha). Gillim said, "The first practice this morning I was feeling really good. For qualifying, the bike was feeling great. We led the whole session, setting some awesome times and kept stepping up from there. I was glad to get back into first on something. It's been a while." Gillim was the only rider in the 1:44-range. Travis Wyman (Harv's H-D) and Tomas Puerta (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull Yamaha) rounded out the top five.
AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series
The AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series competitors were allowed a rare Friday practice to prepare for this weekend's XR Showdown conclusion at the new NOLA Motorsports Park facility. KLR Group/Spyke's Harley-Davidson's Michael Barnes, who enters the finale clinging onto a scant two-point advantage over rival Tyler O'Hara (Bartel's Harley-Davidson), got his weekend off to an outstanding start. 'Barney' threw down a 1:53.226, which was more than a second faster than any other rider lapped in the session. Harv's Harley-Davidon's Travis Wyman was second, followed by Surburban Harley-Davidson's Benny Carlson, who is eighth points off the Showdown lead, and O'Hara, in fourth.
Catch all the Action on SPEED
GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing's National Guard SuperBike and GoPro Daytona SportBike divisions will be featured on SPEED in a set of back-to-back broadcasts, scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m. PT on Sunday, October 7 and 12:00 midnight ET/9:00 p.m. PT late Sunday night.
The AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport and AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series races will stream live on SPEED2. For more information, please visit http://www.speed2.com/.
AMA Pro Live Streaming Video Experience, Live Timing & Scoring and Social Media Channels
AMA Pro Live, the online streaming video experience launched earlier this season, will be broadcasting views from around the track this weekend. Tune in at http://www.amaprolive.com.
GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Live Timing & Scoring presented by Cortech offers fans real-time access to results from on-track sessions at http://live.amaproracing.com/rr/.
Between the races, stay connected with GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing at www.twitter.com/AMAProSBK and www.facebook.com/AMAProRoadRacing.
In addition to the GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing action, there will be family-friendly entertainment located in every turn. Event promoter M1 PowerSports will be bringing motorcycle stunt rider Jason Britton, a variety of New Orleans culinary concoctions, a 4x4 Monster Ride Truck, the always-popular Big Kahuna Bikini Girls, a kid's corral full of fun for the Little Kahunas and dozens of vendors. Motorcycle parking is free and tickets start at just $20 for Friday admission.
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