SONOMA, CA, MAY 14 – Josh Hayes ended this morning’s final Superbike qualifying session with his Yamaha R1 parked against a retaining wall, the Monster Graves Motorsports rider having crashed in the waning moments of the session while holding the top spot. But Hayes’ rivals didn’t have an answer to the 1:35.717 he’d set with some 14 and a half minutes to go in the session and his second pole in as many races was his.Hayes seems determined this year to give it his very best every time he’s on the racetrack and he started the final qualifying session with a statement lap of 1:36.188 on just his third lap. Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Blake Young got to within a second of Hayes, then Tommy Hayden took over in second with a 1:36.668 with some 17 minutes to go in the 40-minute session.With 14:30 to go, Hayes dropped the hammer and ripped off his 1:35.717 on his second lap out of the pits, putting him .951 of a second clear of his Hayden. He followed that up with a 1:36.063. Hayden retaliated with a 1:36.171 – putting him just .454 of a second behind and that was enough of a threat to make Hayes go back out for one final run at going quicker.
“I think we got back pretty close to where we were last year [his pole time of a year ago was 1:36.711],” Hayes said after earning pole position. “And we went back to some old settings. We’re going to reevaluate to see if we can take it another step forward. I think as far as tires and things like that, we have a big game plan. We’re pretty confident. We’ve been in this position before. It was pretty cool this morning, but the bike worked well, things were hooked up, I found some good clean racetrack to work with, which is a big help around here. There’s a little bit of disparity between some lap times out there, so it’s easy to find people. And it’s really difficult to pick a spot to pass, because people can… it just seems like people can take up a lot of racetrack here and it can be difficult and nerve wracking getting around people. But I found some good racetrack and was able to put together a good string of laps and I just feel like we’re back where we were last year. We’re still going to look and see if we can make some improvements, but we’re pretty confident with what we have.”But it ended in turn four with the Yamaha cartwheeling across the grass. Hayes tried to get it going again for the ride back to the pits, but the rear wheel was smashed and he was forced to rely on the crash truck.”Right there at the end, Tommy [Hayden] was within… he was pretty close and looking at his lap times from yesterday, his pace seems to be faster than last year,” Hayes said of his crash. “And he can maintain a pretty good pace. I said, ‘you know what, if he can do that I’ve seen him pull out some big laps.’ So we were going to try one more lap. We put on a tire, went out, on the out lap I had a couple weird slides and I just kinda thought, ‘you know what, I don’t think this thing, like I don’t know if something tripped on the warmer or something.’ It didn’t seem like it was very hot, so I was going to do kind of a second lap to make sure it was good before I got up to speed. And quite honestly, I don’t know, I went down into turn four there, broke kinda early, turned it in and I kinda lost the front and about… it was the longest, slowest crash, it seemed like, and about in the middle of it, I was like, ‘shit, I think I’m going to crash.’ And the next thing I know I’m sliding down the pavement. Unfortunately, it tore the bike up a little bit. The rear wheel is smashed so I couldn’t ride it back it in, so I had to wait for the crash truck.”Hayden’s 1:35.171 was good enough for second place, the Suzuki rider improving by some .4 of a second despite not feeling as comfortable as he did on Friday. Then came his teammate Young, the Wisconsinite improving to a 1:36.829 and feeling better than a year ago when he crashed in the final session at Infineon.Michael Jordan Motorsports Ben Bostrom will fill the front row for today’s first of two Superbike Nationals, the Suzuki GSX-R1000-mounted rider going slower today than yesterday as he and the team went backwards in bike setup.BMW-mounted Steve Rapp improved from yesterday and will head the second row of the grid, besting Team M4 Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas. Those two will be joined on row two by Australian David Anthony and Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing’s Larry Pegram.
1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:35.717
2. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki) 1:36.171
3. Blake Young (Suzuki) 1:36.829
4. Ben Bostrom (Suzuki) 1:36.845
5. Steve Rapp (BMW) 1:37.091
6. Martin Cardenas (Suzuki) 1:37.250
7. David Anthony (Suzuki) 1:37.405
8. Larry Pegram (BMW) 1:37.599
9. Chris Peris (BMW) 1:37.870
10. Geoff May (Buell) 1:37.907