Josh Hayes was a late addition to the No. 13 Westby Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 team for this weekend’s AMA Pro SunTrust Moto-GT 8 Hours At Daytona but that didn’t stop the top AMA Pro American Superbike rider from winning the overall and GT1 class pole Friday for tomorrow’s eight-hour endurance race.Hayes, who will co-ride the No. 13 with Jeff Wood and regular team riders Dane Westby and Dustin Meador, turned a top qualifying lap time of 1:53.367 (112.731 mph) just minutes before a heavy rain shower forced an early end to the scheduled two hour session just past the one hour mark.
1st – Josh Hayes Speaks…
"I am glad I was kind of able to do my job for the Westby Racing team," said Hayes, who won seven AMA Pro American Superbike races this year riding a Yamaha R1 for Yamaha Motor Corp. USA. "Whenever they ask me to come ride, I want to do a good job for them. If I can put down a good time and get a top position on the grid, that’s one step and one part of my job."
"It was kind of a last minute deal," Hayes said. "The guys called me up and they knew I would be here with Melissa anyway, and they know how much I enjoy riding. Melissa is riding well too considering she is only about eight weeks out of a broken leg. She finished fifth in today’s GTU race and is riding pretty well around this track, so it is good to finish on a high note."
Hayes was added to the Westby team just this week but he had been planning on being in Daytona for the Fall Cycle Scene to support his wife and fellow racer Melissa Paris. Paris is racing for the first time this weekend in Championship Cup Series (CCS) competition since sustaining a fractured right tibia/fibula injury in the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike race at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in mid August.
Hayes and the No. 13 team will share the two-bike front row with the No. 18 Team Roadracingworld.com Suzuki GSX-R600 of Chris Ulrich, Martin Cardenas and Jason DiSalvo. Team Roadracingworld.com has won the last two 8 Hours At Daytona and finished second in the inaugural race in 2006. Cardenas, who joined Ulrich on last year’s winning rider line up, was on the bike for the No. 18’s top lap of 1:53.990 (112.115 mph).
2nd – Martin Cardenas Speaks…
"Everything is good with the bike and we did the fast lap on the same set of tires we started with, so that is good," said Cardenas, who is recovering from a broken right hand from an accident of his own in Friday practice at VIR. "The hand is good, feeling as good as it has, and it will be no problem to race."
The No. 70 James Gang/Hoban Bros. Racing Buell 1125R of Paul James, Jeff Johnson and Shawn Higbee qualified third. Higbee was on the Buell for the No. 70’s quick lap of 1:54.141 (111.966 mph).
3rd – Shawn Higbee Speaks…
"I went out first on it and the bike felt really good," Higbee said. "We figured we were going to get some weather here so that is why we went out first and tried to put down a good lap, but unfortunately it didn’t stick for us. We are looking good for the race, the bike is coming along and we made a few changes. We have three riders this weekend and we are just trying to get everybody comfortable."
GT2 Late Addition Too
Hayes wasn’t the only late-addition rider to post a pole-winning run on Friday. Daytona 200 sixth-place finisher Barrett Long was asked to ride the No. 23 KRM Racing by Motocorse Ducati PS1000LE just this morning and promptly went out and won the GT2 class pole.
"The team asked me this morning if I wanted to ride, because they had a rider out," said Long, who will team with Fernando Ferrer and Chris Boy. "Everything is going smoothly so far, the bike feels good, the team is great. This is my first time on this bike. I think I did about 10 laps and it was on the last lap that I did the good time. I was just learning the bike, I wasn’t even trying to do a fast lap."
Touring Sport Ducshop’s pair of Ducati PS1000LE bikes rounded out the top three. The No. 38 Ducati of Frank Shockley, Dario Marchetti and Brian Stokes was second fastest with Shockley turning a top lap time of 2:03.464 (103.512 mph). The championship leading No. 77 of Pete Friedland, Brad Phillips and Corey Rech was third with a lap of 2:04.092 (102.988 mph).
The season-ending 8-hour race is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. on the 3.55-mile Daytona International Speedway road course