LEEDS, AL, JUNE 22 - Monster Energy Graves Yamaha's Josh Hayes continued his supremacy in the Superbike class with a dominant performance in Friday qualifying for the Triumph Superbike Classic at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Alabama.
Hayes rolled into Barber riding a three-race winning streak, and having won five of the last six, while demoralizing the competition on a regular basis. Today's performance on a hot, sticky day in the Deep South will do nothing to give them much hope. Hayes was the only rider in the 1:25s, clicking off four of them, and nearly a few more, while no one else could break the 1:25 barrier. It gave him the overnight pole for this weekend's two Superbikes races, which are expected to be held in the hottest weather of the season.
"Races and long distance stuff are always pretty tough for us here, because it just gets really, really greasy and a lot of work out there," Hayes said after his lap of 1:25.696 on what he considers his home track. "But we've actually changed quite a few things on the motorcycle this weekend, different than usual, because this has been a particularly tough track for me. And trying to improve some areas where we can not only got a little faster but stay a little more consistent and not drop off so much time with just sloppy laps.
"Feels like a lot of work out there because it's so hot right now. But I'm having fun, I'm, I hate to say, minimizing my lap time, but I definitely feel like I'm doing a few less laps than I typically do. I'm coming into the pits and letting the guys take their time and make their changes on the bike before I go back out. I do two or three laps and I just want to make sure I feel good on Sunday.
"Both tomorrow afternoon and Sunday, I know it's supposed to get hotter as the weekend goes on. So far everything's going well. Put quite a few laps...I think I did four laps in the 25s so we'll continue to work on that. I think we'll be able to go a bit faster tomorrow morning, I think everybody will with the temperatures being a little down. Hopefully, we can maintain in the race in the afternoon."
Team Amsoil/Hero's Geoff May put in his best qualifying effort of the year on the EBR 1190RS. May, from nearby Gainesville, Ga., was second and only .37 of a second off the pace of Hayes with a lap of 1:26.061. The difference was in consistency. May had only one lap in the low 26s; his two fastest other laps were high 26s.
Third fastest Ben Bostrom and his Jordan Suzuki was slightly more consistent. His best lap of 1:26.153 was nearly matched by his second fastest lap of 1:26.249, though, overall, he wasn't able string any laps together in even the low 27s.
Hayes' teammate Josh Herrin was wrestling a Superbike around Barber for the first time and with some success. Herrin was the most consistent rider in the top four, other than Hayes. On his final run he rang up a string of five 26s in a row, the best of which (1:26.458) put him fourth fastest.
Yoshimura Suzuki's Blake Young was fifth fastest with a number of 26s, but also a crash that ended his day late in the session. Young's best of 1:26.621 mins. was just slightly faster than the pace he was able to replicate on a handful of other laps.Young came to Barber trailing Hayes by 20 points, 257-237, after nine of 20 races.
National Guard Jordan Suzuki's Roger Hayden was sixth fastest and just .022 of a second faster than Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing's Larry Pegram (BMW). Team Hero's Danny Eslick was eighth on the second EBR 1190RS.
AMA Superbike Qualifying:
1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:25.696
2. Geoff May (EBR) 1:26.061
3. Ben Bostrom (Suzuki) 1:26.153
4. Josh Herrin (Yamaha) 1:26.458
5. Blake Young (Suzuki) 1:26.621
6. Roger Hayden (Suzuki) 1:26.860
7. Larry Pegram (BMW) 1:26.882
8. Danny Eslick (EBR) 1:26.937
9. Chris Clark (Suzuki) 1:27.391
10. Steve Rapp (Kawasaki) 1:27.479