Hayes Slays in Qualifying

Henny Ray Abrams | May 5, 2012

SONOMA, CA, MAY 5 – Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes lowered his lap time and increased his gap to the rest of the Superbike field to take the pole position for this weekend’s races at the Great Clips West Coast Moto Jam at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California.

Hayes came into the session holding the provisional pole, but he wasn’t content. With about three minutes to go he lowered his Friday time, becoming the first and only rider to drop into the 1:35s. His next few laps didn’t produce a better time, but that didn’t matter; his gap to the second fastest rider is .903 sec.

Hayes described his session as “eventful.” A clutch problem forced him to pit at the start of the session. Then his team had to swap over components from one of his Yamahas to the other. The resulting motorcycle was different than what he’d been riding, better in some ways and worse in others. “So now we’re going to go back and sit down and look at all the pieces and see what we want to do for the race and see if we can improve the bike a little bit and see how the wind picks up and just try to have a good day,” he said.

Jordan Suzuki teammates Roger Hayden and Ben Bostrom both significantly improved their times and positions. Hayden leapt from eighth on Friday to second today, while Bostrom went from fifth to third. Of the two, Bostrom needs a good race more. The start of his season has been horrible, with crashes in three of four races and a downfield finish.

For his fast lap, Hayden said he “Just closed my eyes one lap, basically. Unplugged the brain. We haven’t found some magical setting, just rode a little bit harder. And it’s the end of qualifying and this place it’s so important to start up front because it is really hard to pass and lot of guys be trying to be a hero on the first lap and just don’t want to get caught up in it. We have improved the bike a little bit, we just haven’t found enough yet.”

Bostrom described his lap as “Horrible, but I made it around. I thought I was going to be on the ground about every other corner, so got lucky when I made it around.”

Hayden’s lap of 1:36.775 mins. was .078 sec. faster than Bostrom’s second session best.

Team Amsoil/Hero’s Geoff May (EBR) incrementally improved his time, but fell from third to fourth. Teammate (EBR) Danny Eslick (EBR) didn’t improve his time and dropped from a provisional qualifying second to fifth overall, the second row pole.

Next to him is Blake Young, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider whose session ended early with a crash in turn seven. Young made it back to the pits under his own power, but wasn’t able to rejoin qualifying.

MotorcycleSuperstore.com/Attack Racing’s Steve Rapp and Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s fill out the second row.

AMA Superbike Qualifying:

1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:35.872

2. Roger Hayden (Suzuki) 1:36.775

3. Ben Bostrom (Suzuki) 1:36.853

4. Geoff May (EBR) 1:36.886

5. Danny Eslick (EBR) 1:36.976

6. Blake Young (Suzuki) 1:36.985

7. Steve Rapp (Kawasaki) 1:37.020

8. Josh Herrin (Yamaha) 1:37.069

9. Chris Fillmore (KTM) 1:37.144

10. Jake Holden (BMW) 1:37.292

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.