BRASELTON, GA, APRIL 16: Team Graves Yamaha swept the top two spots in provisional qualifying for the weekend’s Daytona SportBike races, with Tommy Aquino just edging out teammate Josh Herrin on a hot afternoon at Road Atlanta.Aquino set the fast time of 1:29.496, followed closely by Herrin (1:29.547) in the late afternoon 50-minute session on the 2.55-mile, 12 turn road course north of Atlanta.Aquino’s time was significant because it was under the fastest lap of 1:29.535 of Erion Honda’s Jake Zemke from last year’s qualifying. And he did it despite a significant top-speed deficit. Aquino was 14th of 30 in trap speeds, and 6.2 mph down on the fastest Suzuki of Mike Morgan. Herrin was even slower, clocking the 20th fastest trap speed.”There’s not much stop-and-go and there’s a lot of flow to this track and there’s a lot of elevation changes,” Aquino said of why he likes the track. “Like here and Sears Point, I really enjoy racing. It fits my style. I like the fast corners and I seem to do well there.”Aquino took partial blame for the top-speed deficit. He said he prefers to ride alone, even if it means losing drafting speed.”I usually do my fast laps by myself,” he said. “Like I try to find a pocket. I don’t ride with anybody. I just lay down my own lap, even if I am sacrificing a little bit of draft speed. I seem to do better on my own.”If I can get out in front of the race I can do a pretty good pace by myself and that’s what I need; a good start and just need a couple laps.”He also credited Dunlop for improvements made over the winter.”I think the new tire probably is a little bit better than last year,” he said. “Dunlop did a lot of work, so it’s a little bit better. So I’m pretty confident with it. I didn’t break loose that much at all. Yeah, the Dunlop-Yamaha set-up’s pretty good.”Good enough for the first two spots and fourth and fifth. Interrupting the top four Yamahas was M4 Monster Energy Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas, who was third fastest and just a tenth slower than Herrin.Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha teammates Clinton Seller and Dane Westby were fourth and fifth, respectively, with only .012 secs. between them.Team Latus Motors Ducati’s Steve Rapp was on the same second in sixth place, with Vesrah Racing’s Cory West nearly equaling Rapp’s time in eighth.Geico Powersports/RMR Suzuki’s Danny Eslick was eighth fastest, the defending national champion the first rider on the next second at 1:30.113.DNA Energy Drink/CNR Motorsports’ Ducati’s Bobby Fong and Vesrah Suzuki’s rounded out the top 10.Results:1. Tommy Aquino (Yamaha) 1:29.4962. Josh Herrin (Yamaha) 1:29.5473. Martin Cardenas (Suzuki) 1:29.6454. Clinton Seller (Yamaha) 1:29.8515. Dane Westby (Yamaha) 1:29.8636. Steve Rapp (Ducati) 1:29.8887. Cory West (Suzuki) 1:29.8968. Danny Eslick (Suzuki) 1:30.1139. Bobby Fong (Ducati) 1:30.56410. Chris Fillmore (Suzuki) 1:30.647
Early Speed for Aquino
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.