Zemke Misses Out on Superpole

Henny Ray Abrams | May 30, 2009

Stiggy Racing Honda’s Jake Zemke will have to start Sunday’s two World Superbike races from the sixth row after failing to make the top 20 in qualifying for this afternoon’s Superpole session at Miller Motorsports Park.A combination of handling and gearing issues prevented Zemke from improving on his Friday time and he finished Saturday morning in 23rd place, just over a quarter-second out of 20th. But he’s in good company. Joining him on row six are the factory BMW’s of Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus, and Ben Spies’ Yamaha teammate Tom Sykes.Having to start from so far back is especially cruel to Zemke, who made history the when he won the Sunday race of the inaugural AMA Superbike weekend in 2006. Following that win, the Yoshimura Suzuki team went on a 53-race winning streak that ended two weeks ago at Infineon Raceway. The win was Zemke’s last in the Superbike class. He won the 2008 Formula Xtreme championship on the Erion Honda.”Yesterday we had found a good direction on the bike and we were going good,” he began, “and we needed minimum half-second improvement for today and that would’ve put us in a good spot. If we could’ve run a mid-50 that would’ve put us right in the thick of things and that would’ve been good.” Instead he ran a 1:50.415, which was .243 secs. slower than Friday’s 1:50.072.”I’m losing almost all my time in just three corners,” he said, pinpointing the half-second loss in the fast Witchcraft corner before the esses, the Attitude esses, and the following left-hand Tooele Turn 19. “We’re having a little bit of problems getting the thing to turn the way I’d like it to. We were getting close yesterday, so we thought we had found a direction to head today.”Also gearing through that section, I’m kind of in between gears in the gearbox. Unfortunately, we don’t have any alternative ratios for the gearbox and so the only thing we can do is change the final gearing on the bike. So we changed that trying to find a solution to get me through that section a little better and it just killed the bike everywhere else, the full rest of the race track.”Zemke said he could tell at the start of the 45-minute session that the gearbox changes weren’t for the better.”The problem was to get the gearing that we needed to try, we had to change the countershaft and the session” was too short. “I came in jumped on the second bike, which was only one tooth different from the bike I was riding, and that didn’t work either. So basically I had to suck it up and ride what I had.”And the changes we made to the suspension didn’t seem to be working as well either, so we just kind of backed up when we needed to go forward and it’s not really what we needed to be doing, so it’s just going to make my job a bit tougher tomorrow.”Obviously the start’s going to be extremely important and with the straightaway as long as it is it’s going to take a good bit…you can make up or you can lose a lot of ground on the start at this track. We’ll just have to see what we can do. We’ll have to get some really good starts and hopefully we can make up some positions there real early in the race. I think that the bike’s good enough. We should definitely be in the top ten, if we get just a couple more things working.”This field is very tough, very fast, but they’re also able to pull out in qualifying the one lap to really jump up the sheets. But to do those consistently, a lot of these guys can’t do that. Obviously, at the front of the field the guys can; those guys are dialed in. But as you get back a little bit they’re not going to have the pace throughout the whole race that they’re going to need to keep the position they’re in, so we’ll see. We’ve got some work to do. Hopefully this afternoon we’ll be able to get things sorted a bit and get back on pace where we need to be and that’ll make things a little nicer come tomorrow.”

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.