TOOELE, UTAH, MAY 27 - The grid for today's Daytona Sportbike race was determined in Saturday's dry but windy qualifying with Sunday''s track conditions preventing anyone from coming close to improving their times.
Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha's Cameron Beaubier was fastest on the patchy wet track this morning, but his lap time was eight seconds slower than Geico Suzuki's Martin Cardenas had gone on a windy Saturday afternoon in provisional pole qualifying. So the championship leader Cardenas will start on pole later today for the sixth round of the Daytona Sportbike championship.
Cardenas will be looking to bounce back after a horrific crash in Sunday's race at Infineon Raceway. Having won the three previous races, Cardenas had built up an impressive points cushion. But with the crash that lead dwindled to 12 points, 113 to 101 over Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha's Tommy Hayden. Starting from the pole gives him a chance to grow that cushion again.
"When we started yesterday the track was a little bit damp in some spots, so we did a couple of laps at the beginning and then we wait like for ten minutes. The last ten minutes we put a new tire on the rear and we did like four laps and one of those I was behind Jake (Zemke) and one of those laps was a 56.5 and was enough to secure pole," Cardenas said. "But yesterday the wind was pretty bad I think for all of us. Was difficult to go fast in those conditions.
"But the bike is working really good. We have made small changes to it. It's been working great since the beginning and I'm hoping for a dry and good race."
Jason DiSalvo was denied pole by mistiming his tire strategy on Saturday. After making some adjustments to his Latus Motors Racing Triumph Daytona 675 he went back out with about 18 minutes to go. But what he found was that the tires had "a really short window of when you're going to get the optimal laps out of it. Seems to be about five or six laps and then it's kind of tough to achieve the same lap times you would when it's new.
"So I feel like as the session we kinda got out of that window and I had to push pretty hard to get that 56.5, because the tire was starting to go off and slide around a little bit. After that we really didn't have another tire we could throw on, so that was really it. That was all we had. I thought it might be enough, but Martin's (Cardenas) getting good at his qualifying stuff, at throwing that fast lap in there, so he nipped us there at the end."
Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha's Cameron Beaubier qualified third in his return to the class. Beaubier rode heroically to third in Saturday's DSB race at Infineon, but the toll it took on his injured knee forced him out of Sunday's race. In the weeks since Infineon he's been able to train and at MMP he said he just feels "a lot better, like my whole body. Got some strength in my knee. And I felt way better on the bike this weekend than I did at Infineon. It gives me more confidence into the rest of the season."
Ducshop Racing's Jake Zemke qualified fourth, at the end of the front row.
Daytona Sportbike Qualifying:
1. Martin Cardenas (Suzuki) 1:56.522
2. Jason DiSalvo (Triumph) 1:56.536
3. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha) 1:56.930
4. Jake Zemke (Ducati) 1:57.188
5. Tommy Hayden (Yamaha) 1:57.292
6. Benny Solis (Yamaha) 1:57.694
7. JD Beach (Yamaha) 1:57.808
8. Dane Westby (Suzuki) 1:57.881
9. Tommy Aquino (Yamaha) 1:58.841
10. Bobby Fong (Yamaha) 1:59.033