Hot weather followed the AMA Pro Road Racing Series from Barber Motorsports Park to the new NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans, Louisiana, the site of a two-day teams test in advance of the 2012 season finale that will be held at the new facility October 5-7.
Fittingly, the hottest racer in the AMA Superbike Series was at the front again as Monster Energy Graves Motorsports Yamaha's Josh Hayes - the winner of both Superbike races last weekend at Barber - again led the way. Hayes, who resides in nearby Gulfport, Mississippi, led the way with his 1:39.282 lap of the 2.75-mile, 16-turn racetrack.
"What a fun track; it's nice to be close to home," said Hayes in an AMA Pro press release. "I saw a lot of friends come out, say hello and check it out, just for our test even, so I think that bodes well; hopefully we're going to have a huge event. I think the track will be very spectator friendly, being as flat as it is. A lot of people can park their campers, get on top and see a lot of racetrack. If M1 brings out the jumbotrons like they're talking about, I think it'll be a great fan experience."
Hayes was the only rider to break the 1:40 barrier on day one, a milestone he reached in the final session of the day. Yamaha's leading man improved on his effort during day two, posting the fastest time turned on two wheels at the facility in the opening session and then backing that up with a string of sub-1:40 lap times in each of the day's remaining sessions.
"I really like the race track; I think it's a challenging and fun track," Hayes continued. "It's got some really scary stuff coming off the back straightaway through the fast esses there. I have a feeling that track conditions when we come back could be considerably better; they have a race this weekend with WERA, they've got some car stuff lined up, and as more rubber gets onto the track I think it's going to be easier on equipment. Also, in October, the temperature I think should be a little bit better. This was a lot like being at Barber, where the heat makes things really difficult for the bikes. So when we come back I think we'll be able to improve our lap times considerably."
Yoshimura Suzuki's Blake Young and National Guard Suzuki's Roger Lee Hayden were the only other two riders to break the 1:40 mark, turning times of 1:39.677 and 1:39.727, respectively. Jordan Suzuki's Ben Bostrom posted the fourth fastest time of 1:40.131 and Hayes' teammate Josh Herrin rounded out the top five with a time of 1:40.197. Bostrom escaped injury in a big crash on the first day.
In AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike, the Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha team proved to be the class of the field. Cameron Beaubier rode to the top of the charts with a time of 1:42.442, turned in the second session of day two, while teammate Tommy Hayden opened up day two with his fast time of 1:42.741 to lock in the second fastest time of the test.
GEICO Suzuki's Martin Cardenas steadily lowered his lap times and posted the third-fastest time for the class - a 1:42.866 in his last session. Latus Motors Racing's Jason DiSalvo (1:43.099) and RoadRace Factory/Red Bull's Jake Gagne (1:43.120) were next.
The RoadRace Factory/Red Bull crew proved to be the ones to beat in the SuperSport class, as team riders Hayden Gillim and Tomas Puerta came in second and third fastest, respectively.
A handful of AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series competitors also turned out, led by championship hopeful Kyle Wyman (KLR Group/Spyke's Harley-Davidson). Wyman's lap time of 1:50.659 was over two seconds faster than the 1:52.512 turned by nearest competitor, and Vance & Hines XR1200 points leader, Tyler O'Hara (Bartel's Harley-Davidson).