Photography by Larry Lawrence
AMA Superbike rookie Cameron Beaubier is not only proving to be quick on the Monster Energy Graves Yamaha R1, he's proving to be consistently so.
Beaubier outpaced three-time class champ Josh Hayes in Friday's free practice at Road America, and then backed it up by claiming provisional pole during qualifying.
After trading the top spot with his teammate a couple times during the session, Beaubier put his head down late and circulated the four-mile track in 2:12.757 - .449 of a second better than Hayes' best and over a half second quicker than Hayes' 2013 pole time.
Based on his performance at the Daytona season opener and the subsequent three-race Superbike Shootout, Beaubier is increasingly looking like a legitimate title threat despite his status as a premier-class rookie.
Asked if he was surprised with how smooth his transition to the Superbike class has been to date, Beaubier admitted, "Yeah, I am a little bit surprised. Everything has happened so fast. My team has been working really hard to get me as comfortable as I can be and the three Superbike Shootout races gave me that little edge I need - more track time on the bike, and getting me more comfortable, and getting in shape, and stuff like that. But we've still got five or six rounds left I just hope I improve race-by-race and keep going."
Yoshimura Suzuki's Martin Cardenas was the only other rider within two seconds of the Yamaha duo in the session. The Colombian clocked a 2:13.610, .853 off Beaubier's provisional pole time.
Privateer David Anthony split up the Yosh crew, claiming the fourth spot ahead of factory Suzuki riders Roger Hayden and Chris Clark.
Larry Pegram was seventh as he continues to acclimate to the EBR 1190RS, while Chris Ulrich, Cory West, and Jason Farrell rounded out the Friday top 10.
As fast as he was on Friday, Beaubier's provisional pole is guaranteed not to stand; this weekend AMA Pro is implementing its new Superbike qualifying procedure in which the fastest 12 riders following Q1 and Q2 will move on to a 15-minute Q3 session to determine the weekend's front four rows.
"I'm just going to go out there and try to do my best,” Beaubier said. “We'll make some bike changes tomorrow morning - we have a couple things to try. And then I'll try to throw down a fast lap and get ready for the race."
Friday Provisional Superbike Qualifying from Road America
1 2 Cameron Beaubier Roseville, CA Yamaha R1 2:12.757
2 4 Josh Hayes Gulfport, MS Yamaha R1 2:13.206
3 36 Martin Cardenas Medellin, Colombia Suzuki GSX-R1000 2:13.610
4 25 David Anthony Murrieta, CA Suzuki GSX-R1000 2:14.915
5 95 Roger Hayden Owensboro, KY Suzuki GSX-R1000 2:14.986
6 6 Chris Clark Las Vegas, NV Suzuki GSX-R1000 2:15.626
7 72 Larry Pegram Hebron, OH EBR 1190RS 2:16.998
8 18 Chris Ulrich Lake Elsinore, CA Honda CBR1000RR 2:17.114
9 13 Cory West Eureka Springs, AR EBR 1190RS 2:17.608
10 86 Jason Farrell Oshkosh, WI Kawasaki ZX-10 2:17.987