ELKHART LAKE, WI, JUNE 3 – Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes led a horde of Suzukis in first qualifying for this weekend’s Subway Superbike Doubleheader at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.Hayes approaches every session with urgency and this one was no different. Unlike last week at Miller, where the forecast of rain almost guaranteed the provisional pole-sitter the pole, and the point that goes with it, this weekend the weather looks more accommodating, though qualifying was buffeted by strong winds and cool temperatures.”It’s nice to get,” Hayes said when asked about his strategy on bonus points.
“I think my strategy is pretty simple, I only have one: I want to lead every lap and I want to win every race if I can. I feel like I can control things better from the front. Tommy (Hayden) stalks a lot of the time and maybe he can save his tire, but we’ve seen, like the first race at Infineon, he can’t always save his tire. If I can push the pace hard enough maybe he doesn’t have enough tire to make a pass at the end. It’s a philosophy that’s worked well for me, it worked well for the guy before me.”With his seventh lap of the 4.048-mile track, Hayes put in a time of 2:13.156 mins. that served as the standard throughout. Then, on his final lap, he put the provisional pole out of reach with a lap of 2:12.869 mins. Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Blake Young made the most serious challenge, but ultimately came up short by .165 secs. With his final lap, Young’s teammate Tommy Hayden moved past Martin Cardenas (M4 Suzuki) into third with a lap just .141 sec. slower than Young’s. Cardenas finished fourth, the last rider on the same second as Hayes. Fifth fastest Larry Pegram (Foremost Insurance BMW) was a second slower than Cardenas.Hayes, himself, was on a fast lap when he made a mistake going around a slower rider and ended up in the gravel trap, his blue and white Yamaha buried up to the axle and swingarm in gravel. “It was just buried. It was standing on its own,” he said.
Though Hayes and everyone else is certain to go faster tomorrow, it’s unlikely anyone will set a new qualifying record. Mat Mladin holds the mark of 2:11.970 mins. from 2006, the era of highly developed Superbikes and qualifying tires.Superbike Qualifying: 1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 2:12.869
2. Blake Young (Suzuki) 2:13.321
3. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki) 2:13.462
4. Martin Cardenas (Suzuki) 2:13.607
5. Larry Pegram (BMW) 2:14.660
6. Chris Peris (BMW) 2:14.681
7. Ben Bostrom (Suzuki) 2:15.046
8. Chris Clark (Yamaha) 2:15.279
9. Roger Lee Hayden (Suzuki) 2:15.553
10. Steve Rapp (BMW) 2:16.171