Holden on Top in Miller

Henny Ray Abrams | May 30, 2009

Something about Miller Motorsports Park brings out the best in Jake Holden.The Corona Extra Honda rider took the pole position for the GTO class in Sunday’s Larry H. Miller Superbike Challenge, one of the two support races for the World Superbike weekend at MMP.Holden lapped the 3.05-mile course in 1:51.309 mins., a full 1.087 secs. better than second fastest Taylor Knapp. The time would have put him 19th on the provisional World Superbike grid, just in front of Ben Spies’ Yamaha World Superbike teammate Tom Sykes.It was here a year ago that Holden got his last pole position. But that one came in Superstock on the longer 4.5-mile track that the AMA ran.”I love this track, especially on a Honda; it’s a great track for this bike,” Holden said under the Corona Extra Honda team awning on Saturday morning. “I wish I could’ve gone a couple more laps. I wanted to get down to what the World Superbike guys were doing. But there were a couple guys out there on 600’s, so it was kind of hard to get used to the closing speed on that.”The GTO class features heavyweight motorcycles, but with very few rules. If it has two wheels and an engine, it’s probably legal. The GTU class is for middleweights.The team is taking part because their contract with Corona Extra mandates 12 events. Originally, this was scheduled as a round of the AMA Pro Road Race Championships. Later it was downgraded to Daytona SportBike and Supersport before the AMA and track officials couldn’t come to a mutually agreeable financial arrangement.Rather than his own Honda CBR1000RR, Holden is riding the American Honda CBR1000RR R&D bike. It’s full AMA spec, with Dunlop tires and Sunoco fuel, which means it’s well off the power and trickness of the World Superbikes. Holden said it feels close to the Superbike he rode earlier in the season when Hodgson was injured.”We’re up here a mile high, so it’s kind of hard to tell the horsepower and all that stuff,” he said. “It feels pretty good compared to everybody else’s bike.” It has the same suspension as Hodgson’s AMA Superbike. “Just pretty much everything is what Neil would run if he rode this bike.”With such a yawning gap to second, and another second to third, it’s likely Holden should take the top prize in the $35,000 race.”I think we’ll have a pretty good race for ourselves, just go out there and get some laps and get some good data for these guys so when they come back they have some good information,” Holden said.

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.