AMA PRO RACING:
Mat Mladin (No. 1 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000) won his eighth AMA Pro Road Racing pole of the season and will end his AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited career with a record 63 pole positions after earning the top Superpole qualifying spot Friday at the AMA Pro Superbike Championships at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP). Mladin, who announced his retirement last month, will start on the pole for both of this weekend’s dual finals, which will be the final American Superbike races of his career.
“I thought we had a little bit more in it but we ended up getting the pole today, so that was good,” said Mladin, who turned a top lap time of 1:21.558 (97.109 mph). “I definitely won’t place a career of winning on this weekend, whether it’s a good or bad result. Anytime you want to race, and you want to race hard, there are always places to pass whether you have to move people out of the way or not. We’ll see how we go tomorrow.”
Josh Hayes (No. 4 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1), who won his second Superpole of the season one race ago at Virginia International Raceway (VIR), was second fastest Friday with a lap at 1:21.872 (96.736 mph).
“I think the track has a really fun layout, it’s actually a lot of fun to get around,” said Hayes, who swept both VIR races. “It feels a little small on a Superbike, I think the 600 would be really fun to get around here on. With a Superbike, it’s a lot of work but it’s challenging, which is always fun. I think I have a good bike to be on around here.”
Aaron Yates (No. 23 Brand Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000) continued his recent strong Superpole runs and was third fastest to join Mladin as Suzuki riders in the top four. Yates lapped at 1:22.069 (96.505 mph).
“It’s different, a new place for us,” Yates said. “Anytime we go somewhere new, it’s exciting, it’s a challenge. The place is a bit of work, a lot of direction change. You spend so much time on each side of the bike around those couple of corners back there that you kind of get tired of hanging off the thing. It’s the same for everybody; it’s going to be a long race. We’re working hard to get the Jordan Suzuki going and I think it’s coming around pretty good.”
Yamaha also put a pair of bikes on the front row with Hayes’ teammate Ben Bostrom (No. 2 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1) locking down the fourth and final spot with a lap time of 1:22.076 (96.496 mph).
“The track is awesome,” Bostrom said. “Everyone’s times are very tight. I can’t complain, I haven’t been that good in Superpole all year. The bike’s great, I have a really good race bike and I think it should be on for Saturday and Sunday. Expect really close racing with everybody. We haven’t won one so we can do our best.”
Mladin’s teammate Tommy Hayden (No. 22 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000) rounded out the top five while two riders making their American Superbike debuts were competitive enough to make the 10 rider Superpole cut. Cory West (No. 53 Erik Buell Racing Buell 1125RR) qualified eighth while fellow American Superbike rookie Damian Cudlin (No. 8 Celtic Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000) was 10th.
Saturday’s American Superbike final is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. ET for 23 laps/50 miles and can be seen in same-day coverage on SPEED that night at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Daytona SportBike Super Six for DiSalvo
In AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL, Jason DiSalvo (No. 40 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600) won a class-leading sixth Superpole of the season with a top lap of 1:23.840 (94.466 mph). He is one of three riders in Friday’s Daytona SportBike Superpole top four looking for their first wins of the year in this weekend’s season-ending pair of races.
“I think it’s going to be a really, really tight race,” DiSalvo said. “The lap times have been super tight all weekend. It’s just kind of blowing me away having 16 guys within a second of each other. We just have to do a little more work to the bike tomorrow morning. Our settings are really, really good. We got a lot of work done yesterday during the practice. I’m sure it’ll be a good race. We’ll try to lead off the start and see if we can’t stay in the lead for 21, 22 laps.”
Tommy Aquino (No. 6 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6) will share the two-rider front row with DiSalvo after his best qualifying effort of the year. Aquino turned a lap of 1:24.013 (94.271 mph).
“I’m pretty happy,” Aquino said. “This is my best qualifying yet, and it should be really good for the race. A win is always the goal for this season. This is my first season, so we’re just going for race wins, to see what we can do and figure stuff out for next year. A race win would be really awesome.”
Aquino’s teammate Josh Herrin (No. 8 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6) was third fastest at 1:24.118 (94.154 mph) and is the only rider in the top four who has scored a race win this season.
“I want to end the season well,” said Herrin, who swept the most recent weekend of racing at VIR. “The last four or five rounds have been going our way. We did better in qualifying than we have in the last couple of rounds. Everything is going well; we just have to run a smooth race and put the Yamaha back on top of the box again. The track is awesome, I couldn’t complain about anything and I’ve been having a lot of fun this weekend. I can’t wait to come back next year.”
Chaz Davies (No. 57 Factory Aprilia /Millennium Technologies Team Aprilia RSV1000R) turned in a solid qualifying effort with the fourth fastest lap of the Superpole session at 1:24.189 (94.074 mph).
“We rolled out yesterday with the same settings as what we tested with,” Davies said. “It felt weird straight away so we’ve been playing catch up today, trying to get back to the same sort of feeling that we had at the test. It was good, an okay lap. It’s working well and I think, like Jason said, the lap times are close with everybody. It’s going to be a real good dogfight. I’m looking forward to it.”
Jake Zemke (No. 1x Erion Racing Honda CBR600RR) rounded out the Daytona SportBike Superpole top five.
In other Daytona SportBike developments, this weekend’s anticipated championship showdown between Danny Eslick (No. 9 GEICO Powersports/RMR Buell 1125R) and Martin Cardenas (No. 36 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600) will not happen. The Colombian rider withdrew from the New Jersey round due to a compound fracture of his right hand sustained three weeks ago in Friday practice for the Suzuki Big Kahuna Nationals at Virginia International Raceway.
“I had surgery 15 days ago but the scar is coming apart in one section and it’s beginning to be too painful,” said Cardenas, who participated in Friday morning’s practice session. “I am worried about infection so I think the better thing to do is to stop for this weekend and heal up properly for next year. It was a very good season. Unfortunately I made a mistake, a very stupid mistake, at VIR and I got this injury. The year didn’t finish the way I wanted it to but things are like that. Hopefully next season will be no problem.”
Eslick also had a tough day and missed the Superpole session after running 13th in group qualifying. He can improve in tomorrow’s final qualifying session but can start no higher than 11th behind today’s 10 Superpole qualifiers. With Cardenas out of the running, however, all Eslick needs to do is basically record a pair of solid finishes in each of this weekend’s Daytona SportBike races to leave New Jersey with the title.
Cardenas’ withdrawal leaves Herrin as Eslick’s only remaining championship challenger. Herrin is third in the championship but will need nothing short of another dominating weekend coupled with a pair of bad results by Eslick to have any chance at taking the Daytona SportBike championship.
“We’re just going to go into it like we did at VIR, not even think about the championship, and just go for those race wins,” Herrin said.
Saturday’s Daytona SportBike final is scheduled to start at 4:10 p.m. ET for 23 laps/50 miles and can be seen in same-day coverage on SPEED that night at 7:30 p.m. ET.