In Friday’s provisional qualifying at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, three-time defending AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Champion Josh Hayes was the fastest rider on the track. Although he’s racing for the AMA SuperBike championship this weekend, and he was still a full second faster than any of the World Superbike riders in their first free practice session of the weekend.
Championship points leader and Hayes’ teammate Josh Herrin qualified provisionally in fifth position. His session was cut short when he tucked the front of his #2 Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha YZF-R1 in Laguna Seca’s turn 3 and slid off the track unhurt.
“It was a pretty typical qualifying session, I think,” Hayes opined after the opening qualifying session. “I’m trying to be steady and keep feeling fresh. I’m looking to keep building toward Sunday’s race. After racing (an R1 for the Yamaha Austria Racing Team) at LeMans (in the 24-hour endurance race) last weekend, it took me a few laps to get acclimated to my Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha R1 and the Dunlop tires again, but I’m happy to be back on my SuperBike.”
Commenting on his crash, Herrin said, “I’m really mad at myself because that’s the first time I’ve fallen all year. There were about 10 minutes left to go in the session, and I hadn’t really started clicking off fast laps. I’m glad we’ve got another qualifying session tomorrow.”
Tomorrow afternoon’s final AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike qualifying at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will begin at 12:40pm PT, and Sunday morning’s SuperBike race will go green at 10:40am PT.
Photography by Ara Ashjian