Photography by Larry Lawrence
After a disastrous opening pair of rounds at Daytona nearly three months ago, Josh Hayes came to Road America ready to begin his way back into championship contention. The defending AMA Pro Superbike champ started things off on the right foot by topping the first qualifying session on Friday on Road America’s four-mile circuit, clocking a 2:13.355 aboard his Monster Energy Graves Yamaha R1. Hayes set the standard the entire session and was the target everyone else was chasing throughout the session.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas was second fastest, turning a 2:13.776 in the last minute of the session. Cardenas was the only other rider in the 2:13 bracket. Third was Roger Lee Hayden on the National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSXR1000 with a time of 2:14.503.
Series leader Josh Herrin, on the other factory-backed Yamaha R1 was fourth with a 2:14.633.
For Hayes he has to be nearly perfect the rest of the year and he talked about that after Friday’s session.
“There are so many things that can happen,” Hayes admitted. “I fell down a couple of times last year. If I fall down one time this year that’s pretty much the end of my story. Mechanical… just making a mistake… we get a rainy race and I just have a dodgy race, there’s a million things that can happen.”
Hayes’ best time Friday was about two seconds off his own track record of 2:11.333 set in qualifying last year. Hayes said he didn’t think the record would be in danger this weekend.
“I feel it’s the change in the tires honestly,” Hayes said of the difference in last year’s to this year’s lap time. “Going to the U.S. [made] rears versus the U.K. rears, I think that’s the biggest difference we’re seeing. It’s a little windy and a little gusty in some areas of the racetrack, which could play a small role in it. The track seemed to maybe get a little bit better from the first session to the second session, but not a lot. Last year we were fast from the very first session without missing a beat and stayed there the entire weekend. We’re pretty far off – I think for the most part it has to do with the rear tire. It doesn’t give me as much confidence as the one I used last year.”
Daytona winner Cameron Beaubier topped the timing screens in the Daytona SportBike class. Beaubier turned a 2:19.908 on his Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha R6. That time too was a tad off the class track record set by Jason DiSalvo, of 2:19.373 set last year.
Jake Gagne made it a Yamaha one-two in the provisional qualifying. He went 2:20.475 on the RoadRace Factory Yamaha. Dane Westby looked solid in his return from Daytona injury, clocking a 2:21.659 on his GEICO Motorcycle Road Racing Honda CBR600RR.
Beaubier was a bit surprised his time wasn’t faster.
“I was kind of expecting to get a little lower in the times,” Beaubier said. “But it didn’t happen. I was like a tenth or so faster [than in the first session]. I did like three or four of the same lap times, but I could get to the next step and lower my lap time a little bit. But I’m happy with that. We’ll see what the weather does tomorrow morning and if it’s good we’ll try to improve it. If not, I’m happy with the pole.”
Stefano Mesa continued his momentum from Daytona, earning the top provisional qualifying time in Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport. Mesa turned a 2:24.275 on his Motorsports.com/RSRacecraft Yamaha to edge out National Guard/Celtic Racing Suzuki’s Corey Alexander, who clocked a 2:24.501. Ricardo Valdez was third on his Southeast Sales Yamaha at 2:26.079.
Mesa loves the four-mile Wisconsin circuit. He said he turned his fastest time without drafting on anyone else.
“It’s Road America, it’s always a fun track,” he said. “Since I won here last year it’s a confidence booster. I just went out and did a couple of laps on a medium tire. Once we felt OK we threw a soft on it and just went for it. It looked like it might start raining so we did it earlier in the session.”
AMA Pro National Guard Superbike Provisional Qualifying – Road America, Elkhart Lake, WI – May 31, 2013
1. Josh Hayes, Yamaha, 2:13.355.
2. Martin Cardenas, Suzuki, 2:13.776.
3. Roger Hayden, Suzuki, 2:14.503.
4. Josh Herrin, Yamaha, 2:14.633.
5. Larry Pegram, Yamaha, 2:15.221.
6. Danny Eslick, Suzuki, 2:15.362.
7. Chris Clark, Suzuki, 2:15.736.
8. Geoff May, EBR, 2:16.083.
9. David Anthony, Suzuki, 2:16.166.
10. Chris Fillmore, KTM, 2:16.729.
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike Provisional Qualifying – Road America, Elkhart Lake, WI – May 31, 2013
1. Cameron Beaubier, Yamaha, 2:19.908.
2. Jake Gagne, Yamaha, 2:20.475.
3. Dane Westby, Honda, 2:21.695.
4. JD Beach, Yamaha, 2:21.660.
5. Jake Lewis, Yamaha, 2:22.325.
6. James Rispoli, Suzuki, 2:22.548.
7. Garrett Gerloff, Yamaha, 2:22.718.
8. Joey Pascarella, Triumph, 2:23.823.
9. Bobby Fong, Triumph, 2:24.241.
10. Benny Solis, Honda, 2:24.837.
Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport Provisional Qualifying – Road America, Elkhart Lake, WI – May 31, 2013
1. Stefano Mesa, Yamaha, 2:24.275.
2. Corey Alexander, Suzuki, 2:24.501.
3. Ricardo Valdez, Yamaha, 2:26.079.
4. Jeffrey Tigert, Yamaha, 2:26.318.
5. Tomas Puerta, Yamaha, 2:26.327.
6. David Sadowski, Jr., Yamaha, 2:26.391.
7. Hayden Gillim, Yamaha, 2:26.611.
8. Devon McDonough, Yamaha, 2:26.725.
9. Travis Wyman, Suzuki, 2:26.777.
10. Conner Blevins, Kawasaki, 2:26.808.