DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – If there was even a hint of skepticism concerning the ability of reigning AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike champion Cameron Beaubier to smoothly transition to AMA Pro SuperBike competition, it was promptly erased on Thursday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway.
The highly-touted premier-class rookie not only demonstrated impressive speed in his first official day of action on the big bikes, he flat out set the pace.
Beaubier rocketed around the high banks aboard his Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha YZF-R1 with a fast time of 1:38.079, securing the provisional pole for this weekend’s season-opening SuperBike doubleheader. The 21-year-old headed the charts for much of the session and even had an answer when his all-world teammate, Josh Hayes, moved into the lead with just a few minutes remaining in Thursday’s qualifying session.
Beaubier’s achievement is all the more impressive when you consider that three-time AMA Pro SuperBike king Hayes has a well-established history of one-sided SuperBike practice and qualifying ownership. Should the young Californian hang on Friday and retain pole, it will mark the first time the Mississippian has been knocked off the top spot on the grid in over a year.
Beaubier was a dominant force in Daytona SportBike racing in 2013, winning 12 of 13 races en route to the crown. He now appears set to make an immediate impact in the premier class.
“It was good,” Beaubier said in his typically understated fashion. “Toward the beginning, I just tried to go out and get a constant pace going on a new tire. I was able to do a ‘38.5. I came in and did just a little rear change. I got a couple more laps in and came right back in and threw a new tire on. I went out with the intention of throwing down a good lap — which I did toward the end — but it took me a while to get there.
“On the 600, you can put new tires on and just go and carry a bunch of roll-speed through corners and get off the corners good. But on a SuperBike it’s different. Once you slide it a little bit, it starts bucking you. I’m learning every time I get on the bike. I’m sure tomorrow I’ll feel a little bit more comfortable, but I’m sure those guys will be right there, too.”
Hayes was second, 0.243 seconds off Beaubier’s class-leading time.
Joining the Yamaha duo on the provisional front row is Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Roger Hayden with teammate Martin Cardenas just one spot further down in fourth. The two are widely considered the biggest obstacles standing in the way of a fifth-consecutive Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha SuperBike title, and they delivered on that promise Thursday.
New Yosh runner Hayden stopped the clocks at 1:38.827, which was 0.748 seconds behind provisional pole. It was a promising opening day’s work for the Kentuckian, who is aiming to get his title campaign off to a quick start this weekend.
Colombian Cardenas, who won here last season, was a further six tenths back.
ADR Motorsports/Sic/Motul Fly Racing’s David Anthony was also in outstanding form. The privateer broke into the top five, leading a number of big names. The Australian posted a 1:40.148 to complete the day in fifth.
Chris Clark helped the Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing squad lock up a full half of the six slots available on the provisional front two rows with his sixth-place performance.
KTM/HMC Racing’s Chris Fillmore heads Row 3 overnight. He’s followed by Spaniard Bernat Martinez aboard the Proto-Tech Spain Yamaha R1 and M4 Motorcycle Road Racing Honda’s Chris Ulrich.
Team AMSOIL Hero’s Cory West completed the day’s top 10.
The grid for the weekend’s twin 15-lap SuperBike contests will be set following Friday morning’s second session. The season’s opening SuperBike race will follow later that day with a scheduled 4:00 p.m. EST start time.
Opening practices for the 73rd DAYTONA 200 began on Thursday, with Garrett Gerloff logging the fastest times of the day. Gerloff wasn’t alone as seven riders were within a second of the Texan.
Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha pilot Gerloff said, “This morning was a little bit of a weird start to Daytona. I wasn’t really feeling great; I was a little tight and just riding around, trying to work my way into the session. I got P2, which was great. And coming into the second session, I was feeling really great. The bike was awesome. I got in six okay laps and did 1:51.5.
“I definitely don’t think that’s the fastest any of us can go. The track felt really good to me so I was expecting everyone to go a little bit faster. I got in six laps before my bike kind of slowed down and I had to come in. And with the one-bike rule, I couldn’t jump on a backup bike and go.”
Following Gerloff were some of the top names in AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike. Jason DiSalvo (Castrol/Triumph/Sportbike Track Time) was second in the afternoon as the veteran and former DAYTONA 200 winner showed his strong form.
Motosport.com/Meen Yamaha’s Jake Lewis was third with a time of 1:51.568, ahead of RoadRace Factory/Red Bull’s Jake Gagne. Both young riders are looking to translate that speed into a spot on the new three-rider-per-row AMA Pro grids.
Two Oklahomans followed closely in fifth and sixth. Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Dane Westby topped Danny Eslick (Riders Discount Racing Triumph) as both riders were well within a second of Gerloff’s best.
Class rookie Tomas Puerta of RoadRace Factory/Red Bull, a former AMA Pro SuperSport race winner, was seventh.
Series veteran Blake Young returned to AMA Pro Racing with ninth on the GN Gonzales Racing Yamaha.
The SuperSport class for up-and-coming racers saw some familiar names and some new arrivals in the top 10. Reigning East champ Corey Alexander set the quickest time on his Celtic/HVMC Racing Suzuki. Alexander’s mark of 1:53.331 led the way in the afternoon session held in clear weather.
Miles Thornton was second, having set his mark on the D&D Cycles/Castrol/Triumph. Thornton looks like a good bet to return to the AMA Pro SuperSport podium this far.
Jason Aguilar was a surprising third on the Tuned Industries Yamaha.
While Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson’s Steve Rapp tried out his new No. 1 plate for the first time Thursday, it actually turned out to be his teammate, Ben Carlson, who ranked first in Thursday’s AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series qualifying session.
The Wisconsin native led the way, claiming provisional pole for Friday’s seven-lap affair with a fast time of 2:05.046.
Daytona XR1200 master Kyle Wyman was next on the KWR/Millennium Technologies Harley-Davidson. Wyman is looking to make up for last year’s narrow defeat and earn a third victory in this race.
The man who edged him out last season, Tyler O’Hara (Josh Chisum Racing/Bartels’ Harley-Davdison) rounded out the provisional front row in third.
Defending champ Rapp, meanwhile was fifth on the day, one spot behind teenager Gage McAllister (Folsom Harley-Davidson). Ex-champs Danny Eslick (Ruthless Racing Harley-Davidson) and Michael Barnes (Arai/Taichi/Sidi/D.E.A.D. Cycles/Wheeler Racing Inc.) were ninth and 12th, respectively.
SuperBike Qualifying Results
- 1 2 Cameron Beaubier Monster Energy Graves Yamaha Yamaha R1 FASTEST FASTEST 1:38.079 18
- 2 4 Josh Hayes Monster Energy Graves Yamaha Yamaha R1 0.243 0.243 1:38.322 21
- 3 95 Roger Hayden Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000 0.748 0.505 1:38.827 16
- 4 36 Martin Cardenas Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000 1.393 0.645 1:39.472 15
- 5 25 David Anthony ADR Motorsports, Sic, Motul Fly Racin Suzuki GSX-R1000 2.069 0.676 1:40.148 22
- 6 6 Chris Clark Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000 2.386 0.317 1:40.465 17
- 7 11 Chris Fillmore KTM/HMC Racing KTM RC8R 2.627 0.241 1:40.706 19
- 8 76 Bernat Martinez Proto-Tech Spain Yamaha R1 3.386 0.759 1:41.465 12
- 9 18 Chris Ulrich M4 Motorcycle Road Racing Honda CBR1000RR 3.487 0.101 1:41.566 16
- 10 13 Cory West Team AMSOIL Hero EBR 1190RS 3.897 0.410 1:41.976 21
- 11 44 Taylor Knapp TOBC Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000 3.953 0.056 1:42.032 21
- 12 37 Stefano Mesa DMS Racing Kawasaki ZX-10 4.228 0.275 1:42.307 17
- 13 80 Diego Pierluigi Cusanelli Motorsports Argentina Suzuki GSX-R1000 4.339 0.111 1:42.418 16
- 14 75 Huntley Nash Neyra Racing Kawasaki ZX-10 5.326 0.987 1:43.405 17
- 15 72 Larry Pegram Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing EBR 1190RS 5.596 0.270 1:43.675 9
- 16 17 Trent Gibson Seven Sports Suzuki GSX-R1000 6.003 0.407 1:44.082 10
- 17 269 Johnny Rock Page ADR Motorsports Suzuki GSX-R1000 6.233 0.230 1:44.312 20
- 18 123 Jacquel Gonzalez 123 Motorsports, MindeporteVzla Kawasaki ZX-10 6.346 0.113 1:44.425 17
- 19 10 Sean Dwyer Vicious Cycle Racing Kawasaki ZX-10 6.432 0.086 1:44.511 23
- 20 29 Barrett Long Longevity Racing Ducati 1199 6.644 0.212 1:44.723 15
- 21 24 Mathew Orange Orange Construction Racing BMW S1000RR 9.693 3.049 1:47.772 19
- 22 711 Franklyn Dominguez OCM Racing Kawasaki ZX-10 10.547 0.854 1:48.626 17
- 23 78 Reese Wacker Pilot Travel Centers Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000 -no times- -no times- -no times- 0
–From AMA Pro Racing