The streaking Josh Hayes carried his GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing chart-topping ways into Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Hayes threw down a blistering 1:25.991 to set the pace in Friday’s AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike free practice on the opening day of the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.
Hayes is on an historic tear, having claimed seven consecutive victories while scooping up every available pole position along the way.
To further that streak, the Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha ace will need to break new ground this weekend and claim his first-career AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike victory at the fabled road course. That shouldn’t be considered an impassable obstacle, however, as the Mississippian has already broken through at Daytona International Speedway, Road Atlanta, Miller Motorsports Park and Barber Motorsports Park this season alone.
Despite ending the day on top, Hayes didn’t control the session throughout. National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s Roger Hayden, who pushed the two-time champ to the limit last time out at Mid-Ohio, actually sat atop the order for much of the session.
Hayes’ foray into the ’24s pushed him ahead of Hayden, but not by much. The Kentuckian was second-best at 1:25.262.
“My lap times are pretty good; we’re faster than we were this time last year,” Hayes said. “The potential is there in the motorcycle to go a lot faster. We tried some things in the very beginning that got me extremely tight on the motorcycle, and I ended up getting myself all worked up. I wasn’t very happy with the second half of my session, and I felt like I wasn’t able to do a very good job for the guys. But I’m confident we’ll be able to look at things and make improvements for tomorrow. I’m confident I’ll be able to come back and relax, and get back into the swing of things tomorrow.”
Commenting on his quest for a first National Guard SuperBIke win at Laguna Seca, Hayes said, “Quite honestly, I don’t look at this place and say ‘Oh, I haven’t won here,’ because the last two years here, it’s been me and one other person. Last year, this was my track; I had it covered but Tommy (Hayden) beat me. He just played the game right and got me at the end. I don’t feel pressure coming here — I’ve been racing for the win the past two years. I’m just going to try to do what I did at Ohio — go through the motions and stick to my routine. When I do that, things work out for me.”
Team Amsoil/Hero EBR’s Geoff May was next-best, outpacing Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca genius Ben Bostrom to lay claim to third-best in the session behind Hayes and Hayden.
May hustled his way around the roller coaster-like circuit with a quick time of 1:25.540 to move ahead of Jordan Suzuki’s Bostrom, who has multiple AMA Pro and World Superbike Mazda Raceway wins to his credit.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Chris Clark was an impressive fifth-quickest at 1:26.020, faster than teammate Blake Young (10th, 1:26.509) and Hayes’ teammate, Josh Herrin (7th, 1:26.070).
Another rider who turned heads was Jake Holden in sixth, riding the Redline Motorsports Honda CBR1000RR. Holden winged his way to a 1:26.063 on the new SuperBike.
May’s teammate, Danny Eslick, and Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki’s Taylor Knapp also ran in the top ten, ranked ninth and tenth, respectively.
The AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike heroes will qualify on Saturday in preparation of Sunday’s 23-lap contest.
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike
Martin Cardenas led the way in the sole AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike practice session of the day on Friday. The GEICO Suzuki pilot topped the timesheets with a lap of 1:27.952 at Laguna Seca, narrowly bettering Tommy Hayden’s mark of 1:28.004. Hayden, who rides for Y.E.S./Graves/Yamaha, bettered his teammate Cameron Beaubier, who was third-quickest.
Cardenas and Hayden, two veterans and former class champions who often ride together in practice sessions, set the pace in the hour-long session, with both having led. In recent races, class upstarts like Beaubier and Dane Westby (M4 Suzuki) have taken much of the attention and wins.
Cardenas has six wins in 2012, but he hasn’t won in four races. Hayden, who has concentrated on the SuperBike class in recent years, has yet to win after joining Y.E.S./Graves/Yamaha as an injury replacement at Daytona.
Beaubier crashed in turn ten early in the session and, fortunately, was unhurt. Cameron got his backup machine to third on the day.
Ducshop Ducati’s Jake Zemke was fourth, just ahead of Westby and Jake Gagne (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull). Tommy Aquino, in a sub role for Kneedraggers.com Yamaha, was eighth-fastest.
Absent from the class on Friday was Jason DiSalvo, who is transitioning to a recently announced Triumph team that will make its debut at the New Jersey Motorsports Park round.
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport
Dustin Dominguez continued his strong run on Friday in provisional qualifying in AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport. Dominguez, who won the last two class races at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago, set the quick time in the 40-minute session over Hayden Gillim (RoadRace Factory/ Red Bull) and James Rispoli (Celtic Racing/Orient Express Racing). Jake Lewis (Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki) rebounded from his subpar Mid-Ohio event to join them on the provisional front row.
Corey Alexander (National Guard Fairhills Group Celtic Racing) was fifth, ahead of Garrett Willis (GWR). Willis led the early going in qualifying before Dominguez took the top spot.
Series Title Sponsor Announced
Officials from AMA Pro Racing and GEICO announced today a multi-year partnership, which names GEICO Motorcycle as the Official Motorcycle Insurance and Title Sponsor of America’s premier motorcycle road racing championship, GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing. As part of the agreement, AMA Pro Racing will name a year-end points fund after GEICO for the premier AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike division. For the 2012 season, the GEICO Year-End Points Fund will pay out an additional $25,000 to the top three riders in the final point standings, which will rise to $50,000 and be paid out to the top five riders in the final point standings for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
Television Coverage, Live Streaming, Live Timing & Scoring and Social Media Channels
SPEED will air the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike and AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike races in a set of back-to-back, same-day delayed broadcasts beginning at 11:00 p.m. ET/8:00 p.m. PT on Sunday, July 29. SPEED2 will live-stream the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport race, fans can watch by logging on to http://www.speed2.com. SPEED2 is a broadband service available to customers of Time Warner, Bright House Networks, Cablevision, DISH, and Cox. For more information and instructions on gaining access to all of this season’s AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport and AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series races, please review the SPEED2 FAQ located at http://www.speed2.com/faq.
AMA Pro Road Racing Live Timing & Scoring presented by Cortech offers fans real-time access to results from on-track sessions at http://live.amaproracing.com/rr/. Between the races, stay connected with AMA Pro Road Racing at www.twitter.com/AMAProSBK and www.facebook.com/AMAProRoadRacing.