TOOELE, UTAH, MAY 24 – Momentum is a great thing. And Y.E.S. Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Garrett Gerloff carried it with him and grabbed his second straight Pro Sportbike pole in the final round of the Superbike Shootout at Miller Motorsports Park.
They are running the 2.2-mile west track configuration of Miller Motorsports Park this weekend instead of the traditional 3.06 mile outer track, as the National Auto Sport Association is using the east track. So for some it’s been a little bit of adjustment, but not for Gerloff.
Although he’s never ridden on the west course before, Gerloff has raced a Moriwaki on the full course in 2008 (basically running the west course except the final turn) so the young man from Texas carried some confidence with the knowledge and went ahead to break the track record with a 1:29.772.
“I really like the west course actually, it flows a lot better in my opinion,” said Gerloff comparing it to the traditional outer course. “It has a really good flow for me and a ton of grip and my bike was working awesome on it.”
Around a second behind Gerloff was Team H35’s Benny Solis, who was also enjoying the flow of the track on his Yamaha.
“I did it once last year before the Miller event [last year’s AMA Pro Racing round] with the Yamaha Champions school, so I knew where I was going,” Solis said. “And also it helps that I ride a lot of Chuckwalla and this is kind of a big version of Chuckwalla. It’s not too big, not too small and it flows really well. So I’m getting along with the track. Honestly I think it’s more fun than full course.”
In third was Latus Motors Racing’s Bobby Fong, who led practice and seemed to be right up there with Gerloff’s pace, before having to retire halfway through the session due to a lowside crash in turn seven. Fong was uninjured in the crash, but was unable to rejoin with a single bike.
“That was my second flying lap at pace and I just came in the double left hander and tucked the front,” Fong said about the crash. “But we’ll recover. I usually don’t qualify that good anyways. I can’t throw down a real, real fast lap. I feel like I have a lot better race pace than a fast qualifying lap. The bikes working good and it’s fast. So as long as the guys can get it put back together and I get a set of leathers should be good to race.”
Rounding out the front row was Gerloff’s teammate JD Beach, who was very happy to be sorting things with the new team and bike.
“All year we’ve been kind of struggling a little bit, just trying to find a bike setup and I’ve been riding a bit off,” Beach said. “I definitely felt a lot better than I have the whole Shootout series. And to finally be on the front row it feels great. We still got some pace to pick up to be with Garrett [Gerloff] and those guy, but I definitely feel like now we’re finally starting to go in the right direction.”
Just short of Beach by three-thousandths of a second was M4 Honda’s Joe Roberts. In sixth and also in the 1:31s was GEICO Honda’s Jake Zemke.
After the pair of Hondas was a pair of privateer Yamahas – Michael Gilbert and Ryan Matter. And rounding out the top-ten was Tuned Racing’s Bryce Prince and Jason Aguilar, qualifying ninth and tenth respectively.
2014 Superbike Shootout
Miller Motorsports Park
Pro Sportbike Qualifying Results
1. Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha) 1:29.772
2. Benny Solis Jr. (Yamaha) 1:30.712
3. Bobby Fong (Triumph) 1:30.784
4. JD Beach (Yamaha) 1:31.503
5. Joe Roberts (Honda) 1:31.506
6. Jake Zemke (Honda) 1:31.963
7. Michael Gilbert (Yamaha) 1:32.254
8. Ryan Matter (Yamaha) 1:32.451
9. Bryce Prince (Yamaha) 1:33.075
10. Jason Aguilar (Yamaha) 1:33.630