AMA Pro Racing press release:
Mat Mladin kept his season perfect while Jason DiSalvo earned his first top qualifying spot of 2009 in Superpole qualifying Friday at Road Atlanta in the opening day of action for the AMA Pro Suzuki Superbike Showdown.
Mladin (No. 7 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX- R1000) continued his AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited hot streak despite cool temperatures in the low 60s and out-qualified the competition by more than 1.6 seconds. He has now won the pole in each of the year’s first three races and has also swept the victories in the year’s opening trio of races last month at Daytona International Speedway and the doubleheader at Auto Club Speedway.
“It was a good lap for us,” said Mladin, who posted a time of 1:25.281 (107.644 mph). “I think there’s quite a bit more out there, but in conditions like today, it’s quite cool and the left side of the tires never came around. There was too much rubber to get heated up in that amount of time, so the left side was pretty average and the right side was clean and we got enough temperature in it to do a decent job. It was good.”
Second place on the American Superbike grid went to Josh Hayes (No. 4 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1) who turned in his and Yamaha’s best American Superbike qualifying effort of the year at 1:26.902 (105.636 mph).
“I definitely think there’s more in there,” said Hayes, who joins Mladin as the only riders to have won a series-high five AMA Pro Road Racing Series races at Road Atlanta since 2006. “We’re working hard. Superpole hasn’t been my forte, so I just tried to put in a clean lap with no mistakes. I’m quite surprised it got me P2, especially with this big of a time gap. I thought a lot of these guys would be a little bit closer to him (Mladin), but we’ll see. We’ll see how tomorrow goes.”
Local Georgia rider Geoff May (No. 54 National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000) qualified third after a solid fourth place effort at Auto Club, but joined his fellow front runners in believing more speed could have been found. He turned a lap time of 1:26.942 (105.587 mph).
“I left a little bit on the table out there,” said May, who lives in nearby Gainesville, Ga. “I guess I’m feeling pretty good, to make a couple of mistakes and still end up here with these guys. I definitely left a lot on the table out there. I got into (Turn) 5 and screwed up, got out by the wall and spun the thing and then wheelied it and then bogged it all the way down into Turn 6. Then, I sat up early for the last corner. I just didn’t really have my head together that time, but we’ll be together for the race. That’s what matters.”
Mladin’s teammate Blake Young (No. 79 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000) was fourth fastest with a lap time of 1:27.071 (105.431 mph) while Ben Bostrom (No. 4 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1) rounded out the top five with a lap of 1:27.257 (105.206 mph).
Race 1 for American Superbike begins the weekend’s racing action Saturday at 1:30 p.m. local time. Race No. 2 goes down at 4 p.m. on Sunday and closes the 2009 Suzuki Superbike Showdown weekend. Both American Superbike races will be 20 laps for 50 miles.
Daytona SportBike Parity
DiSalvo (No. 40 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600) won his first Superpole in AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL to lead a string of five different motorcycles in the top five for the second consecutive race. The Team M4 rider topped them all, however, with a pole-winning lap of 1:29.933 (102.076 mph) on the Road Atlanta road course.
“The lap wasn’t anything super spectacular,” DiSalvo said. “I just pretty much repeated the same lap time that I did from this morning’s session. I just felt consistent and accurate and I didn’t make any mistakes. That’s what I’ve been missing the last couple times I’ve been out in Superpole. I’m just really happy to get my first Superpole. I kind of felt like people were expecting more from me in Superpole because of my qualifying history and I wasn’t delivering the goods. This is kind of like a monkey off my back. It just feels good to get our first Superpole, and I’m pumped to try and give the M4 guys a win tomorrow and Sunday.”
Jake Zemke (No. 1x Erion Racing Honda CBR600RR) qualified third one race ago at Auto Club but improved on that effort at Road Atlanta. He lapped the Georgia road course at 1:30.254 (101.713 mph) to lock down the outside front-row starting spot on the two-by-two Daytona SportBike grid.
“I’m just really happy,” Zemke said. “My guys have done a really good job in the little break between Fontana and here to get me a little more comfortable on the bike. They’ve definitely improved the power delivery for me, and I’m really happy. I’m just looking forward to the race. The bike’s been really good since we rolled it off the truck.”
Jamie Hacking (No. 88 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R) has proven to be the Daytona SportBike Superpole master and has qualified in the top four in each of the year’s three opening events, including winning the pole one race ago at Auto Club. Friday he lapped Road Atlanta at 1:30.878 (101.014 mph) to qualify third.
“We all like to say we’ve got a little bit left in it, and we always leave a little bit out there,” said Hacking, who is the Daytona SportBike points leader. “I tried hard. I went down into Turn 1 and got in there a little hot. The rear end was sliding pretty good. We worked on the front end of the bike right before the session, and it seemed like it was better. Overall, I was pretty happy with the bike and what we did to the front of it, the front fork, so hats off to the guys. My crew did a great job putting the thing together there before we went out and did the Superpole.”
Aprilia and Buell teams completed the top-five parity with Chaz Davies (No. 57 Factory Aprilia /Millennium Technologies Team Aprilia RSV) and Michael Barnes (No. 34 GEICO Powersports/RMR Buell 1125R) each turning in season-best performances. Davies was fourth fastest at 1:30.936 (100.951 mph) while Barnes led Buell’s efforts for the first time in 2009 to round out the top five at 1:31.078 (100.972 mph).
The Superpole session was delayed near the end when DiSalvo’s teammate Martin Cardenas (No. 36 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600) – the second to last rider out – went down in Turn 10 during his qualifying run. Cardenas was transported to the Road Atlanta medical center where he was examined and released and he plans to compete in this weekend’s races.
Race 1 for AMA Pro Daytona SportBike will be Saturday at 3 p.m. local time with the weekend’s second race for the division getting the green flag at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Like American Superbike, both races are 20 laps for 50 miles.
SuperSport Top Speeds
In AMA Pro SuperSport presented by Shoei action, 17-year-old Argentinean rider Leandro Mercado (No. 92 Leandro Mercado Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R) turned the day’s fastest lap of 1:32.419 (99.330 mph) in the second of two practice sessions.
Russ Wikle (No. 5 Roadracingworld.com Suzuki GSX-R600), who finished third in the season-opening race at Daytona, was second fastest at 1:33.856 (97.810 mph) while that race’s pole-winner Josh Day (No. 4 Kerker Racing Yamaha YZF-R6) was third quick at 1:33.977 (97.684 mph).