FONTANA, CA, FEB. 2 – Without official AMA timing on hand, stopwatches told the story of today’s first day of the two-day test at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, with Foremost Ducati’s Larry Pegram and Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Tommy Hayden both lapping at 1:24.2 to lead the Superbike men.Most said the Auto Club Speedway was a bit on the slippery side and all except Monster M4 Suzuki’s John Hopkins improved after the lunch break. But by the end of the day it was Pegram and Hayden who were on top, though the rest were all relatively close.Yamaha’s Josh Hayes ended the season as the hottest Superbike racer in the AMA series so it was fitting that he was also right near the top today in the season’s first test. Hayes, who won seven races last year and the last four of the season, circulated at a best of 1:24.38.Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Blake Young was fourth fastest at 1:24.49, the Wisconsinite getting used to his new crew chief – ex-Mat Mladin man Peter Doyle.”I ended up getting behind Josh [Hayes] for a few laps and ended up doing a 24.4, 24.8 and another 24.8,” Young said. “Then we made some more changes when I went out behind him and I think they’re better, so I when I went back out by myself we got down to the 24.5s pretty consistently. I think we have a good starting point for tomorrow. But I don’t think I’m going to be happy until I’m the fastest. I’m learning Pete [Doyle] and his lingo. He has a few different things, but the more we interract and go in and out, in and out, we see different problems and things are becoming clearer.”Young held off Hopkins, who was impressive in his first day of official testing on the team’s GSX-R1000. The former MotoGP and World Superbike rider did take part in a track day on the weekend, but these were his first laps with the big boys and his morning session time of 1:24.92 showed that he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with. He ended up stopping a bit earlier than the rest in the afternoon as his right wrist started to bother him as it regains strength after surgery last year.”Overall it’s been a good first day,” Hopkins said. “My wrist is bothering me a little bit. I rode with it from the beginning of the 2007 and broke my scaphoid in Qatar leading up to the beginning of the season in ’07, and with the bike being good with Suzuki in ’07, if I got the scaphoid fixed I would have been out for over a quarter of the season. We decided to ride through it. It was a disaster in my wrist and we got it fixed and it’s still bothering me a bit. It’s just one of those things. Riding is just going to make it stronger.”Michael Jordan Motorsport’s Aaron Yates was next best at 1:25.05, besting his new teammate Jake Zemke’s 1:25.12. Pat Clark Motorsports’ Ben Bostrom and his teammate Chris Clark rounded out the Superbike men.
Pegram, Hayden Lead Fontana Test
Paul Carruthers | Editor
Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.