James Stewart and Ryan Dungey set the marks to beat after timed qualifying today at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington.
In the Lites class, where Dungey and Jake Weimer resume their battle for the West Championship, Dungey, on the Rockstar Makita Suzuki, was nearly a full seconds faster than KTM Muscle Milk's Ryan Sipes and Geico Honda's Trey Canard. Dungey's quickest lap was 55.847 seconds, followed by Sipes with a 56.050 and Canard with a 56.053. Weimer, who trails Dungey by two points in the series standings with two races left (including Seattle), was fourth quickest on the Monster/Pro Circuit Kawasaki with a 56.055. KTM Muscle Milk's Justin Brayton rounded out the top five with a 56.316.
Stewart, on the San Manuel Yamaha, was clearly the fastest rider in the 450 class. His quickest lap was over two seconds faster than Chad Reed's best lap. Stewart laid down a 53.162 and Reed, on the Rockstar Makita Suzuki, a 55.418. The third quickest was the veteran Kevin Windham on the Geico Honda, his time a 55.051.
Fourth quickest was Honda Red Bull's Ivan Tedesco (56.010) and Andrew Short (56.016).
The Seattle track is semi-tight, but all of the riders are talking about the loose conditions. To combat the chance of rain, which is always high in Seattle, the dirt is quite sandy and loose. Ruts are forming on the jump faces, but the turns are remaining relatively flat but loose and slippery. Many riders, including Stewart, have slid out and fallen at one time or another throughout practice and qualifying. Many of the racers are fitting their bikes with full-on sand tires.
Fortunately, conditions have remained dry throughout the day, and there is only a slight chance of rain this evening. The forecast is for a 10 percent chance of light rain beginning around 9 p.m.
All of the usual players are in for this evening's program, though Yamaha isn't have much luck. As reported, Josh Hill and Broc Hepler are sitting this one out due to injuries suffered earlier in the week.
Also missing is Monster Energy/Troy Racing's Jason Lawrence, who was suspended one race and fined by the FIM earlier in the week for rough riding at last week's racing in Jacksonville. The FIM blamed Lawrence for a get-together with Broc Hepler that saw both riders go down while battling in the top five. The AMA, which already had Lawrence on probation, is reportedly still deciding how it will handle the incident.