DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The opening day of action for the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing season brought renewed excitement in the form of fresh rider/team combinations, altered equipment and colour schemes, and rejuvenated title hopes on Thursday. However, while much did change over the offseason, the end result at the completion of the season’s first AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike qualifying session at Daytona International Speedway proved very familiar.
Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes delivered the field a sobering reminder of his unprecedented 2012 dominance with a similarly convincing Thursday performance. The reigning triple champion was immediately over a second quicker than the next faster rider and maintained that sort of advantage throughout the session.
Despite some determined late-session efforts from his key rivals, Hayes ended the session on provisional pole with 1.059 seconds in hand with a best time of 1:37.746.
In typically understated fashion Hayes said, “Everything went pretty smooth. It’s a good first day for starting off a new season. I was feeling a bit of pressure about just getting things started. All the pressure and the hype of new people and new things coming in — I’ve been kind of anxious to get on the racetrack and see how it all plays out. I think I left myself some pretty big shoes to fill last season.
“I didn’t really focus too much on anybody else on the racetrack today; I just kind of did my own thing and then came in and saw how the leaderboard looked whenever I wasn’t on the racetrack. Right now I just want to do my job. If I continue to do what I’ve been doing the last year or so, the pressure is on them to catch up to me. So far, so good. We’ll see what happens from here.”
Significant shuffling took place in the order behind Hayes during the session’s final two minutes. When the dust had cleared, National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s Roger Hayden was second (1:38.805), just fractionally quicker than Hayes’ teammate, Josh Herrin (1:38.960), and Yoshimura Suzuki’s new hope, Martin Cardenas (1:39.001).
Jordan Suzuki’s Danny Eslick was impressive in his debut with the Michael Jordan Motorsports team, clocking the second fastest time in the opening practice and holding down that same spot during QP1 for a time before dropping a few spots late. He still walked away with fifth overall on Thursday, just three tenths off Hayden’s runner-up mark at 1:39.121.
Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing Yamaha’s Larry Pegram posted a similar pace in sixth (1:39.308), however his session ended with his new R1 tumbling over his head in a dramatic late-session crash.
No other rider was within two seconds of the provisional pole.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Chris Clark, Team Hero EBR’s Geoff May, Motosport.com Motul Fly Racing’s David Anthony, and May’s Team AMSOIL/Hero-backed teammate, Aaron Yates, rounded out Thursday’s top 10.
Should Hayes lock down the pole Friday morning, it will mark the 23rd of his SuperBike career, just one removed from Ben Spies for second all-time.
The 15-lap 2013 AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike season opener will get underway Friday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on SPEED in a same-day delayed broadcast beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET/3:00 p.m. PT.
Cameron Beaubier proved to be the quickest rider in AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike as the competitors prepare for Friday’s chance at pole for the 72nd DAYTONA 200. The fastest qualifier will win a Rolex Daytona Cosmograph as well as start on pole for Saturday’s 57-lap race.
Beaubier had nearly a second in hand in the afternoon session, with his Yamaha Extended Services Graves Yamaha YZF-R6 machine leading Jake Gagne and J.D. Beach of RoadRace Factory Yamaha. Beaubier’s time of 1:50.799 in the afternoon improved on his morning time, which was also the fast time in that session.
A spate of crashes in the chicane marked the end of the session as riders got to speed after the winter break. Beaubier’s teammate Garrett Gerloff was one of the crashers, as was GEICO Honda’s Dane Westby as the weather was cool but clear on Thursday, with higher temperatures expected for the rest of the weekend.
Beaubier won seven AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike races in 2012 and finished third in the championship despite missing time with injury and the opening day of the season seemed to show he continued his momentum for last year.
The RoadRace Factory pilots and Bobby Fong on the Triple Crown/RMR Yamaha all clocked times in the 1:51-second range.
The GoPro Daytona SportBike racers will qualify in two sessions on Friday, starting at 8:45 a.m. local time.
Tomas Puerta earned provisional pole in AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport at Daytona International Speedway as the RoadRace Factory Yamaha pilot and former race winner set the pace on the first day of the 2013 season. Puerta’s time of 1:54.097 topped veteran Jeffrey Tigert (CM Motorsports) for the fastest spot.
Former SuperSport race winners Hayden Gillim of Team 95 and Stefano Mesa of Motosport.com also earned the provisional front row for the two 10-lap Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport contests of the weekend.
Final qualifying for the class begins at 8:00 a.m. on Friday.
It came as little surprise to see the name ‘Wyman’ placed atop the charts in provisional qualifying for Friday’s AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series opener. However, the fact that it was younger brother Travis rather than two-time DIS winner Kyle — along his relatively mammoth 0.757-second advantage — may have raised some eyebrows.
The Harv’s Harley-Davidson runner posted a 2:06.028 to lead the way. He was followed by Kyle on the Revolution Performance/Millennium Technologies Harley-Davidson XR1200 at 2:06.785.
Despite Wyman’s big advantage, five riders were within a second of provisional pole. Former SuperBike pilot Steve Rapp was third on the Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson entry, followed by Tyler O’Hara (Eco Fuel Saver/Scrubblade, Bartel’s H-D), and Rossmeyer’s Harley-Davidson’s Bobby Fong.
That list did not even include reigning champion Michael Barnes, who was sixth fastest, 1.051 seconds back. Barnes did draw first blood, however, hustling the #1 Rossmeyer’s XR1200 to the top of the charts in the morning free practice.
The seven-lap AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series season opener will take place on Friday at 2:15 p.m.
AMA Pro Live, the streaming video portal launched last season, will be broadcasting a variety of live video content from Daytona International Speedway this weekend. Tune in at http://www.amaprolive.com to follow along.
Live Timing & Scoring of all on-track sessions will be available at http://live.amaproracing.com/rr/. Between the races, stay connected with GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing at www.twitter.com/AMAProSBK and www.facebook.com/AMAProRoadRacing; keep up with Daytona International Speedway via Twitter (www.twitter.com/DISupdates) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/DaytonaInternationalSpeedway).
–From AMA Pro Racing