Photography by Brian J. Nelson
MONTEREY, CA, JULY 12 – Qualifying is qualifying and the race is the race, but through the first two days of practice and qualifying at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Cameron Beaubier has established the upper hand on his Monster Graves Yamaha teammate Josh Hayes.
Now let’s see what tomorrow brings.
As for today, that belonged to Beaubier, the Californian earning his second AMA Superbike pole of the season (and second of his Superbike career) in this afternoon’s final session. Although the two played Ping-Pong with the top spot for most of the session, it was Beaubier on top when it counted – the Superbike rookie lapping at 1:24.019 to best Hayes by .420 of a second.
“It felt good and I felt good all throughout the session,” Beaubier said. “I strung together some low 1:25s on what I thought was like a little harder of a tire so I felt good and I think that got me ready for throwing the soft on for that 10-minute dash. I strung together some 24s and felt really good. I think I’m ready for the race tomorrow. I’ll go slot in with these guys and I think it’ll be a really good race.”
For the second day in a row, Hayes was upstaged by his younger teammate. And for the second day in a row, he didn't seem worried about it.
“It was a pretty good session, it was fun and I’m pretty happy with it,” Hayes said. “I kept seeing Cam’s time on the board and my little lap timer would say I did one just a little bit better. Then I’d come around and his would be a little better and then I’d see one a little better on mine lap timer. And then I saw 24.0 and I thought, ‘oh, oh, I don’t have that in me at this many laps in the tire. So I guess it’s second today.’ I knew coming in that Cam was capable of doing it. I feel pretty good about being able to put in 23 solid laps in the race and it should be a fun day tomorrow.”
It might not be as fun for Martin Cardenas, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider ending up third but 1.3 seconds a lap behind Beaubier. He knows he’s got his work cut on for him tomorrow.
“I didn't achieve what we wanted to, which was getting down to the 24s,” Cardenas said. “The bike is feeling good and I am feeling good on the bike. The only problem is these two guys are fast right now and I don’t know… we have to look at the data and look at the splits and see where we are losing and try to improve for the race tomorrow. I don’t think there’s much we can try with the bike now. The bike feels god but we’re kind of stuck in the low 25s. Maybe in the race we get behind Cameron and Josh and figure out where we are losing time and maybe learn and try to stay there.”
Fourth fastest was Cardenas’ Yosh teammate Roger Lee Hayden, the Kentuckian just .135 of a second behind Cardenas, but off the pace of the Yamaha men.
KTM’s Chris Fillmore rounded out the top five for tomorrow’s race.
1. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha) 1:24.019
2. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:24.439
3. Martin Cardenas (Suzuki) 1:25.371
4. Roger Hayden (Suzuki) 1:25.506
5. Chris Fillmore (KTM) 1:25.656
6. Jake Holden (Ducati) 1:25.747
7. David Anthony (Suzuki) 1:26.189
8. Cory West (EBR) 1:26.238
9. Bernat Martinez (Yamaha) 1:26.571
10. Chris Clark (Suzuki) 1:27.366