PHOTOGRAPHY BY GOLD & GOOSE
FONTANA, CA, APRIL 26 - Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden bested the factory Yamahas to take pole position for the first round of the three-race Superbike Shootout as Superbike racing returned to Southern California and Auto Club Speedway. Completing the front row of the grid were Yamaha’s Superbike rookie Cameron Beaubier and Josh Hayes, the three-time AMA Superbike Champion.
It was a day of much shorter sessions than the riders are used to in AMA Pro Road Racing with only a single 30-minute practice session and qualifying session for each class. And the Superbike qualifier actually ended a few minutes early when Beaubier’s bike blew up on the front straight, but that didn’t stop Hayden from getting in his pole-setting lap of 1:25.632 near the end of the session.
“In the beginning we just worked on trying to get a race set up going,” Hayden said. “And honestly I’m kind of fighting the bike in a lot of places. So I waited ‘til the last minute and came in and put a tire on and just went out and pushed. I didn’t really know if I had pole or not because I didn’t have a pit board. So it felt pretty good, but I didn’t know it was 1:25.6 because over here I had a ‘26.3 actually. But nonetheless I’m pretty happy. But we’ve got to make some changes to the bike and also decide what tire we’re going to use too.”
Beaubier trailed Hayden by .350 of a second in his first time on the track on the Superbike. The last time Beaubier was at Auto Club Speedway was on a 125.
“It’s definitely a lot different,” Beaubier said. “The first little chicane right here comes up a lot quicker. The track’s pretty physically demanding on the Superbike, so 20 laps isn’t going to be easy but I’m ready for it. It will be good.”
Hayes was enjoying his return to Auto Club Speedway, a track that previously was a fixture on the AMA schedule.
“Everything’s going pretty smoothly,” Hayes said. “It’s been a long time since we ridden here at this racetrack so I think all of us are just kind of looking around. We’re not getting a whole lot of time, as much time as we’re used to, but trying to make the most of it. I feel fortunate that we’ve had good weather today. I’ve been here when the wind has been pretty gnarly. That would’ve made it tough.
“I haven’t really made too many changes to the bike… just trying to get back into the swing of things. I feel a little rusty. Feels good to be riding a motorcycle and have all these guys around, keeps the competitive fire burning. So we’re trying to figure out how to go a little faster. And I think there’s probably more in me then there is in the motorcycle. And just finding out all the intricacies of this racetrack again. I feel like I missing out on a couple of the old secrets I used to know around here.”
After Hayes came a pair of Suzukis - Hayden’s teammate Martin Cardenas and Aussie Dave Racing’s David Anthony. The lone HMC KTM of Chris Fillmore ended up sixth.
Leading the third row of the grid was Yoshimura Suzuki’s Chris Clark, followed by GEICO Honda’s Chris Ulrich and 17-year-old Daytona Anderson. Rounding out the top 10 was Marcel Irnie on the BMW.
In the Pro Sportbike class it was an all Californian front row with Latus Racing Triumph’s Bobby Fong on pole, followed by Team H35’s Benny Solis and GEICO Honda’s Jake Zemke.
Garrett Gerloff qualified fourth on the Y.E.S. Yamaha in his first outing at the Auto Club Speedway. Following Gerloff were a pair of privateer Yamahas, ridden by Chad Lewin and Bryce Prince.
GEICO Honda’s Joe Roberts, the youngter who took the AMA Supersport Series by a storm last year with a part-time effort, qualified seventh. Local racers Jason Aguilar and Ryan Matter finished eighth and ninth, respectively. Gerloff’s Yamaha teammate JD Beach rounded out the top 10.
2014 Superbike Shootout
Fontana Qualifying Results
1. Roger Hayden (Suzuki) 1:25.632
2. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha) 1:25.982
3. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:25.991
4. Martin Cardenas (Suzuki) 1:26.100
5. David Anthony (Suzuki) 1:26.153
6. Chris Fillmore (KTM) 1:26.873
7. Chris Clark (Suzuki) 1:27.912
8. Chris Ulrich (Honda) 1:27.969
9. Daytona Anderson (Suzuki) 1:30.311
10. Marcel Irnie (BMW) 1:30.342
1. Bobby Fong (Triumph) 1:28.361
2. Benny Solis (Yamaha) 1:28.771
3. Jake Zemke (Honda) 1:29.083
4. Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha) 1:29.151
5. Chad Lewin (Yamaha) 1:29.164
6. Bryce Prince (Yamaha) 1:29.151
7. Joe Roberts (Honda) 1:29.772
8. Jason Aguilar (Yamaha) 1:30.121
9. Ryan Matter (Yamaha) 1:30.547
10. JD Beach (Yamaha) 1:31.535