BRASELTON, GA, APRIL 16: National Guard Suzuki’s Jake Zemke turned the fastest lap by an American Superbike at Road Atlanta to take the provisional pole for the Suzuki Superbike Showdown.Zemke was sitting second fastest to Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Tommy Hayden when he laid down a pair of fast laps in the final minutes of the session. The first, a 1:25.177, put him on the pole, the second, a 1:25.166, cemented his position.Part of the credit went to a fresh rear Dunlop. “We’ve been struggling getting through one area of the racetrack that’s the fastest part of the racetrack and it definitely helped there. Yeah, we did have a new tire there at the end,” he said. “But the biggest thing is we’ve got two different bike set-ups and one of them gets through all the tight stuff really well and one of them gets through the fast stuff really well, and so it’s always that trade-off and we’re trying to find the balance in between the two.”Zemke used the Suzuki GSX-R1000 set up for the tight sections of the 2.55-mile, 12-turn road course.”There’s more tight stuff here,” he said. “I mean, three-quarters of the race track’s tight, as opposed to one fast corner in the back straightaway here. I don’t know if you’d call it a corner or a kink or what you’d call it,” he said of turn nine, the sixth gear kink.”The one bike that was going through the tight stuff really well, I was having to roll almost completely out of the throttle to get it to go through there. I’d turn into it and it would just want to push wide and want to run off the race track. It’s been getting better though. We’ve beeen making changes and not killing it in the slow stuff and keeping it pretty good.”Zemke’s best was better than last year’s fast lap of 1:25.281 mins., turned in by Mat Mladin on the current spec American Superbikes, and on the revised circuit. Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ben Spies holds the pole record of 1:23.421 mins., but that was on a higher-spec Superbike and on a slightly different configuration.Hayden secured the second spot with a lap of 1:25.447 mins., a time that was just over a tenth faster than teammate Blake Young’s. Team Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes finished with the fourth fastest time to secure the final spot on the provisional front row.Pat Clark Motorsports Yamaha’s Ben Bostrom led a tight second row, narrowly in front of Foremost Insurance Ducati’s Larry Pegram, with Ridersdiscount.com Suzuki’s Taylor Knapp and M4 Monster Energy Suzuki’s John Hopkins close behind.Vesrah Suzuki’s Tray Batey made a rare return to AMA racing by qualifying ninth fastest, just ahead of Canadian Brett McCormick, who’s riding the Jordan Suzuki in place of the injured Aaron Yates.The American Superbike grid could resemble the 17-rider MotoGP grid. Twenty Superbikes attempted to qualify, but only 17 made the cut-off of 107 percent of the fastest time.Results:1. Jake Zemke (Suzuki) 1:25.1662. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki) 1:25.4473. Blake Young (Suzuki) 1:25.5604. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:25.7395. Ben Bostrom (Yamaha) 1:26.0106. Larry Pegram (Ducati) 1:26.1337. Taylor Knapp (Suzuki) 1:26.2368. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 1:26.4709. Tray Batey (Suzuki) 1:27.60810. Brett McCormick (Suzuki) 1:27.722
Zemke on Provisional Pole at Road Atlanta
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.