SONOMA, CA, MAY 4 - Monster Energy Graves Yamaha's Josh Hayes took the provisional pole for this weekend's Great Clips West Coast Moto Jam at Infineon Raceway with nearly a second cushion on the rest of the Superbike field on a sunny, windy day in the wine country north of San Francisco.
Hayes went to the top of the order almost immediately and was never taken down. He was able to incrementally lower his lap times throughout the 50-minute session, despite gusting winds that made braking an adventure in a number of the hard-braking corners of the 2.32-mile, 12-turn race track.
The reigning Superbike champion was on top when the session was red flag with about 22 minutes to go for track cutting incidents. With less than minute remaining in the final 20-minute segment, Hayes lowered his time to a 1:36.032, putting second place out of reach by .944 sec.
He explained that he "was able to get out there and find some clean race track. I don't know that it was necessarily a great lap, other than that I think I just put all the pieces together of all the segments. I don't know if I did any of my fastest segments on that lap or just strung all of them together and just had a good clean lap."
Hayes improved on his Friday qualifying time of 1:36.397 from last year and wants to improve on last year's pole time of 1:35.717 mins.
The tightness of the next three riders is certainly some kind of record, and the riders themselves unexpected.
Team Hero's Danny Eslick leapfrogged teammate Geoff May to take second in the dying minutes of the session, with May a close third and Yoshimura Suzuki's Blake Young as close. From second through fourth was covered by .009 sec.
Jordan Suzuki's Ben Bostrom qualified fifth ahead of the Kneedraggers.com Suzuki of David Anthony.
Jake Holden was seventh on the EvanSteelPerformance.com BMW followed by Roger Hayden on the second Jordan Suzuki, Steve Rapp on the MotorcycleSuperstore.com Attack Kawasaki, and Josh Herrin of the Monster Energy Graves Yamaha team.
AMA Superbike Qualifying:
1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:36.032
2. Danny Eslick (EBR) 1:36.976
3. Geoff May (EBR) 1:36.983
4. Blake Young (Suzuki) 1:36.985
5. Ben Bostrom (Suzuki) 1:37.193
6. David Anthony (Suzuki) 1:37.497
7. Jake Holden (BMW) 1:37.539
8. Roger Hayden (Suzuki) 1:37.544
9. Steve Rapp (Kawasaki) 1:37.760
10. Josh Herrin (Yamaha) 1:37.973