TOOELE, UT, MAY 30: Team Pedercini Kawasaki’s Roger Lee Hayden celebrated his 27th birthday with a Kawasaki green cake and his first-ever appearance in Superpole. Of the two, Superpole was probably more satisfying, though he wished he could have taken a bigger bite out of the session. Unfamiliar with the softer Pirelli qualifying tires, and unlucky on his first lap, Hayden wasn’t able to make the most of them and finished Superpole 1 with the 20th fastest time, a lap of 1:50.596. Still, that bettered his previous best lap of 1:50.806 from Saturday qualifying.”I never really used the soft tire before and my first lap [Tom] Sykes had the big high-side right in front of me, so it wasn’t that good,” Hayden said. “Second lap was better and I came in for the other one. I guess you only get two laps. And I went back out and got behind somebody and had a decent lap going and they decided they were going to pull in the pits and they just stopped. So I went really slow and was going to wait on somebody to get a draft up the front straightaway and just got the checkered flag.”So it wasn’t great, but I did get some experience with the soft tire. So the next Superpole I get in, hopefully this year, I’ll know what the tire’s going to do. It was a pretty fun experience just to get out and you gotta put the hammer down straightaway. Our strategy was just to use our two soft tires just to get into the next one.”Hayden said his first lap on the softer tire didn’t feel much different than the race tire.”You know what, it was weird; my first lap didn’t feel that much more grip and not just out of control more and then the second one was better and I almost decided to do three laps. They said just to do two,” he said. “The second lap definitely had a lot more grip.”What worried Hayden was that the extra rear grip was going to cause a front-end push.”I was thinking that actually when I was going into turn two that I hope I don’t push the front, but didn’t push the front any and I used a softer front tire today than I ever used before and it seemed to help me a little bit with the front end feel,” he said.When the session was over, and he’d gone through his two tires, he said he felt like he’d left a lot on the track. “It’s one of those times you come up to the start-finish line and, aw, there’s still a lot out there.”Several riders left a lot of their machines out there. There were three highsides in Superpole – Jonathan Rea and Jakub Smrz also highsided – and Hayden thinks he knows why.”I think the reason for it was the first lap on the soft qualifying tire, because when Sykes crashed I had a big slide too just like that,” he said. “I think maybe it needed extra lap to come in, for some reason, and people wasn’t used to it.”What encouraged Hayden had come earlier in the afternoon. He wasn’t able to better his Saturday best qualifying lap in Qualifying 2, but he came close in the free practice session just before Superpole.”This afternoon we got back to what we did yesterday on the race tires, back to getting more comfortable,” he said.
Roger Lee Has a Birthday
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.