Hayes Comes Out Fast After Summer Break

Henny Ray Abrams | September 7, 2012

MILLVILLE, NJ, SEPT 7 – Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes shook off the rust of a more than monthlong lay-off to take his rightful spot atop the AMA Superbike qualifying order on a hot, sunny Friday at New Jersey Motorsports Park in South Jersey.

Hayes, who’d also topped the morning’s free practice, took the provisional pole with a time of 1:21.176 mins. on the 2.25-mile, 14-turn road course. The lap fell short of the lap record of 1:20.624 mins. set by Tommy Hayden in 2010, but Hayes said he’d like to get into the 19s. He’s expected to keep alive his streak of poles in every race this year in Saturday’s qualifying.

“Wow, it feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve been on a motorcycle; I’m sure everybody out there’s feeling a bit the same,” Hayes said. “I think everybody was in the same boat. We didn’t choose to do any testing between Laguna and here. Last year I think we did get to ride once. Four weeks would have been a nice break, six week, I think, was a little long.”

The New Jersey race is the first of the final three to finish the season and Hayes arrives with a 74 point lead, 415 to 341 over Yoshimura Suzuki’s Blake Young. Young had a dispiriting qualifying session, finishing 11th and more than 1.5 sec. behind the reigning champion.

Tommy Hayden’s brother Roger Lee (National Guard Jordan Suzuki) was a strong second and only .411 sec. slower than Hayes. Teammate Ben Bostrom, who goes well here, though he’s also crashed, was only .002 sec. slower than Roger Lee. Bostrom (Jordan Suzuki) also led first practice until the final eight minutes when Hayes took over.

Team Amsoil Hero’s Geoff May (EBR) was the first rider in the 22’s and fourth fastest at 1:22.137 mins. at the end of the provisional front row.

Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing’s Larry Pegram was fifth fastest on his BMW, one of four different brands on the provisional second row. Next to him are MotorcycleSuperstore.com/Attack Racing’s Steve Rapp (Kaw), Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Herrin, and Danny Eslick on the second EBR 1190RS.

Chris Clark (Yoshimura Suzuki) and Chris Fillmore (Team KTM HMC Racing) led off the third row from Young and 12th fastest Taylor Knapp (Riders Discount/K&L Supply Suzuki).

AMA Superbike Qualifying:
1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:21.176
2. Roger Lee Hayden (Suzuki) 1:21.587
3. Ben Bostrom (Suzuki) 1:21.589
4. Geoff May (EBR) 1:22.137
5. Larry Pegram (BMW) 1:22.202
6. Steve Rapp (Kaw) 1:22.248
7. Josh Herrin (Yamaha) 1:22.409
8. Danny Eslick (EBR) 1:22.421
9. Chris Clark (Suzuki) 1:22.527
10. Chris Fillmore (KTM) 1:22.561
11. Blake Young (Suzuki) 1:22.663

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.