MONTEREY, CA, JULY 28 - Based on the previous practice/qualifying sessions at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and the fact that he was a perfect seven for seven in poles thus far this season, it would have taken a brave man to bet against Josh Hayes earning his eighth pole of the season today.
As it turns out, the brave man would have been stupid man as Hayes did what was expected and stormed to his eighth pole of the season. He was fast from the time they unloaded on Friday and he stayed that way through Saturday afternoon, lowering his time from this morning to record a 1:24.446 - .034 under his pole time from last year's race here.
"Everything has been going pretty good," Hayes said. "I've done a couple of good strings of 24s. I did some this morning and I did the same thing this afternoon. I don't even know which lap was my best. Quite a few laps I had to pass people, make mistakes or pass people, and was still able to do some pretty good laps. With eight minutes to go or so, we came in and kinda decided if one of the guys stepped up and took pole, that was okay because we still had some things we wanted to work on to be able to do a faster race pace so I didn't throw my last tire at it. I decided to work on some other things and fortunately the time held up. It sounds like Ben [Bostrom] got really, really close and put in a great lap, so things are looking good. Our bike is working well and we're hoping for a lot of consecutive fast laps tomorrow and a good strong race."
Although they couldn't stop his perfect pole run, Hayes' rivals did close the gap with Jordan Motorsports' Ben Bostrom making the jump to second with his best lap coming on his last lap. With a 1:24.657, Bostrom ended up just .211 of a second off Hayes and .210 of a second ahead of his teammate Roger Lee Hayden on the National Guard-backed GSX-R1000.
With Laguna using the MotoGP grid of three per row instead of four, Monster Energy Graves Yamaha's Josh Herrin will lead row two, the Superbike rookie jumping from ninth to third late in the session - only to be bumped down to fourth with Bostrom's last-lap flier.
Herrin will be joined on the second row by Team Amsoil/Hero EBR's Geoff May, the Georgian finishing ahead of Yoshimura Suzuki's Blake Young with the Wisconsinite the last rider within a second of Hayes. Young's best was .627 of a second off the championship leader's best.
Riders Discounts Taylor Knapp ended up seventh, just .115 of a second ahead of Team Hero EBR's Danny Eslick. Yoshimura Suzuki's Chris Clark and Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing's Larry Pegram rounded out the top 10.
1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:24.446
2. Ben Bostrom (Suzuki) 1:24.657
3. Roger Lee Hayden (Suzuki) 1:24.867
4. Josh Herrin (Yamaha) 1:25.029
5. Geoff May (EBR) 1:25.043
6. Blake Young (Suzuki) 1:25.073
7. Taylor Knapp (Suzuki) 1:25.786
8. Danny Eslick (EBR) 1:25.901
9. Chris Clark (Suzuki) 1:25.975
10. Larry Pegram (BMW) 1:26.011