Photography by Larry Lawrence
INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 16, 2013) -- Steve Rapp continued the momentum he’d built up during the regular season of the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series. Rapp scored the pole Friday for this weekend’s XR1200 doubleheader held as a support race for this weekend’s MotoGP event.
Starting alongside Rapp will be Irishman Jeremy McWilliams, the 49-year-old former MotoGP racer, now semi-retired and coming back to try to make right losing here on the Harleys in 2011. Rounding out the front row is last year’s Indy XR1200 race winner Tyler O’Hara and defending series champ Michael Barnes.
Barnes crashed with about five minutes to go in the session bringing out the red flag and an early end to qualifying. He was reported unhurt in the fall.
Rapp (No. 5 Aerostar Global/Suburban Harley-Davison) has established himself as the man to beat. The 2007 Daytona 200 race winner has taken the XR1200 series by storm this season, winning four out of five qualifying rounds, and often beating considerable odds to do so.
The commercial airline pilot has demonstrated that missed practices, missed qualifying sessions, and even missed warm-up laps haven't been obstacles too great for the talented veteran to overcome.
Today Rapp turned a lap of 1:55.495, beating McWilliams’ time by over a half second.
“The difference for me this year is that I’m able to just ride one bike,” Rapp explained. “Over the past years I was always riding other classes. It was hard to give my full attention to it. Now that I’m just riding this one bike it’s given me more time to adapt to it. Every weekend we do a little bit to the setup to make it a little bit better and it seemed to transfer over from Miller (Motorsports Park) and it was pretty good right from the get go.”
McWilliams is racing on an XR1200 for the first time in two years.
“At first it felt completely alien to me,” McWilliams said. “I’m riding it like you’ve got to ride it. Just let it do what it does. It’s quite physical to me, particularly at my age. I came OK at the end. My only issue is endurance – what am I going to be like over ten laps?”
Malaysian Moto2 standout Hafizh Syahrin qualified fifth.
With only four races to decide this year’s champion in the $60,000 XR Showdown, and the top ten qualifiers all effectively restarting their title pursuits from scratch, reset to 1,000 points apiece, the Indianapolis doubleheader is the single most important race meeting of the year for the Harley-Davidson contenders.
Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series qualifying from Indianapolis – Aug. 16, 2013
1 5 Steve Rapp Harley-Davidson XR1200 1:55.495
2 99 Jeremy McWilliams Harley-Davidson XR12001:56.146
3 29 Tyler O’Hara Harley-Davidson XR1200 1:56.222
4 1 Michael Barnes Harley-Davidson XR1200 1:56.271
5 55 Hafizh Syahrin Harley-Davidson XR1200 1:56.741
6 24 Travis Wyman Harley-Davidson XR1200 1:56.931
7 45 Benjamin Carlson Harley-Davidson XR1200 1:57.072
8 46 Shane Narbonne Harley-Davidson XR1200 1:57.322
9 59 Hayden Schultz Harley-Davidson XR1200 1:57.347
10 2 Barrett Long Harley-Davidson XR1200 1:57.592