Latus Motors Racing’s Bobby Fong claimed pole position Saturday
for the inaugural Dynojet Pro Sportbike race of the GEICO Motorcycle Superbike
Shootout Presented by Yamaha series, the Yamaha SoCal Nationals, at Auto Club
Speedway, in Fontana, California.
Fong recorded a best time of 1:28.361 on his Dunlop-shod Triumph
Daytona 675R during Saturday’s 30-minute qualifying session, outpacing the rest
of the 19-rider field by 0.41 second.
“We put the soft [tire] on maybe about halfway,” in the
session, said 23-year-old Fong. “We put it on way too early, the soft tire. I
thought I was going to do my fast lap in the middle of the session, as soon as
we put it on, but it came on the last lap. The lap was really sketchy because
the tire was just completely gone. We were just sliding everywhere, but I
learned a lot out there. I learned some pretty good lines out there. I haven’t been
here in a while, but my Latus Motors Triumph is working awesome. It’s one of
the fastest bikes out there, so I’ve got to give it up to my crew.”
Asked for his thoughts on the first of three GEICO
Motorcycle Superbike Shootout Presented by Yamaha events, Fong said, “It’s an
awesome event. I’m just happy that John Ulrich put in on the schedule for us
this year. I’m just glad to be here. We’re just using it for track time.
Obviously, we don’t have that many races for AMA, but I’m excited to be here
and hoping we get a good [spectator] turnout this weekend. I wish there were
some more guys here, more of the AMA guys, but maybe we’ll see more next
weekend [at Sonoma Raceway].”
Benny Solis, riding his new Team H35 Yamaha YZF-R6 in Pro
competition for the first time, led the 30-minute practice session earlier in
the day and ended up second-best in qualifying with a time of 1:28.771.
Jake Zemke, meanwhile, completed zero laps in official
practice due to an electrical problem with his GEICO Motorcycle Honda CBR600RR.
But Zemke’s crew was able to sort the problem out in time for qualifying, and
the veteran was able to earn the final spot on the three-wide front row with a
lap at 1:29.083.
In spite of riding at Auto Club Speedway for the first time
ever, Garrett Gerloff qualified fourth with a lap time of 1:29.151 on his
Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha YZF-R6. West Coast racer
Chad Lewin claimed the final spot on the two-wide second row by covering the
2.3-mile infield road course in 1:29.164 on his Yamaha YZF-R6.
Row three will be composed of Bryce Prince (1:29.723) and
his Tuned Racing Yamaha YZF-R6, M4 Sportbiketrackgear.com Honda’s Joe Roberts
(1:29.772) and Prince’s 17-year-old teammate Jason Aguilar (1:30.121).
Ryan Matter (1:30.547) on his ACT Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 and
Gerloff’s teammate JD Beach (1:31.535) rounded out the top 10 qualifiers.
Yamaha SoCal Nationals/GEICO Motorcycle Superbike Shootout Presented by Yamaha
Dynojet Pro Sportbike
Auto Club Speedway
April 26, 2014
Provisional Qualifying Results (all on Dunlop tires):
1. Bobby Fong (Tri Daytona 675R), 1:28.361
2. Benny Solis (Yam YZF-R6), 1:28.771
3. Jake Zemke (Hon CBR600RR), 1:29.083
4. Garret Gerloff (Yam YZF-R6), 1:29.151
5. Chad Lewin (Yam YZF-R6), 1:29.164
6. Bryce Prince (Yam YZF-R6), 1:29.723
7. Joe Roberts (Hon CBR600RR), 1:29.772
8. Jason Aguilar (Yam YZF-R6), 1:30.121
9. Ryan Matter (Yam YZF-R6), 1:30.547
10. JD Beach (Yam YZF-R6), 1:31.535
11. Andre Ochs (Yam YZF-R6), 1:32.099
12. Michael Gilbert (Yam YZF-R6), 1:32.688
13. Andrew Artola (Yam YZF-R6), 1:34.067
14. Mario Alvarez (Yam YZF-R6), 1:34.346
15. Melissa Paris (Hon CBR600RR), 1:34.476
16. Joshua Picard (Yam YZF-R6), 1:35.501
17. Luis Quinones (Yam YZF-R1), 1:35.621
18. Ryan Harper (Yam YZF-R6), 1:36.473
19. David Christensen (Yam YZF-R6), 1:37.383
More, from a press release issued by Team Hammer:
PROMISING START FOR JOE ROBERTS IN FONTANA
Team Hammer returned to action today in Fontana, California, in preparation of tomorrow's opening leg of the GEICO Motorcycle Superbike Shootout.
The nation's top racers made a welcome return to Southern California and the 21-turn, 2.36-mile Auto Club Speedway road course on Saturday as they vied for their grid positions ahead of Sunday's Dynojet ProSportbike contest.
Young gun Joe Roberts continued to demonstrate his prodigious speed, putting the M4 Sportbike TrackGear.com Honda CBR600RR on the third row ( as weekend host WERA utilizes alternating three and two-riderrows for its grid arrangement).
The 16-year-old threw down a 1:29.772 lap during qualifying, lopping more than two seconds of his free practice best to end the day seventh fastest overall. Roberts will look to continue his rapid progression andfight for a place on the podium on Sunday.
"Today went really well," Roberts said. "I think we made a lot of progress. We're learning some now stuff every time we get to ride, so I guess you could say things are really positive.
"Seventh isn't too bad but the main thing is we are pretty close on lap times. I'm excited to get some racing in, especially at a track that’s close to home. All of my family is here and a lot of my friends that wouldn'tordinarily get a chance to see me race, so that's fun."
Meanwhile, fellow Californian Melissa Paris will open the Dynojet Pro Sportbike race from Row 6. She was 15th fastest in qualifying today with a fast lap of 1:34.476.
Like Roberts, Paris made significant strides from free practice to qualifying, improving her time by more 3.5 seconds aboard the Team Hammer Contract Services-prepared MPH Honda CBR600RR.
On Sunday, Roberts and Paris will participate in the first of three GEICO Motorcycle Superbike Shootout Dynojet Pro Sportbike races, with events in Sonoma Raceway and Miller Motorsports Park to follow in May.Tomorrow's 20-lap contest is scheduled to get underway at 1:30pm local time.
About Team Hammer: In 2014, Team Hammer, Inc. is competing in its 34th consecutive racing season, and is marking its eighth year of offering technical and logistical support through its Contract Services Department. Riders on Team Hammer-prepared racebikes have earned 59 AMA Pro National race wins; 135 AMA Pro National podium finishes; 5 AMA Pro Championships; 133 Overall National Endurance race wins; 13 National Endurance Championships and assorted other race wins and titles.
More, from a press release issued by GEICO Motorcycle Road Racing:
GEICO Motorcycle riders Zemke, Ulrich look strong after first day
FONTANA, Calif. (April 26) -- The GEICO Motorcycle Superbike Shootout kicked off with GEICO Motorcycle Honda SportBike rider Jake Zemke positioning himself to take home his first win of the season Sunday at the Yamaha SoCal Nationals at Auto Club Speedway.
Zemke, who barely had any track time in Saturday's practice, battled for the No. 1 spot throughout the entire qualifying session. In the end, he was edged out of the top spot by Bobby Fong and Benny Solis, dropping him to No. 3 with a lap of 1:29.083.
"Qualifying today was definitely a marked improvement for us compared to Daytona," Zemke said. "We ended up third, which is obviously much better compared to our effort at the first race of the season.
"Saturday morning I basically didn't get any practice time because we had some issues that needed to be taken care of. The boys worked hard to get the bike running for qualifying and we've been pretty good since then. Now we will make a couple of adjustments and get ready to race Sunday."
Fellow GEICO Motorcycle rider Chris Ulrich also battled issues early on Saturday with his Honda American SuperBike. After various changes throughout the entire qualifying session, he rallied to a 1:27.969 final lap, placing him in the No. 8 starting position.
"It was a productive qualifying session for us," Ulrich said. "We made a couple of changes to the bike and were able to run our fastest lap on the last lap of the session. I'm happy with the progress we made, but I'm not happy with the overall position.
"In these short weekends you have a very small amount of time to get everything going. With it being the first time here with this bike and development of the bike still going on, it's safe to say we're a little behind the curve.
"But we're not worried about that. We'll think about a few things over night, and come race day we will be alright. We'll push hard in the warm-up and then continue to push hard throughout the race."
Zemke and Ulrich will battle it out Sunday for the win in their respective classes. The day starts off early with practice leading up to the 1:30 p.m. PT Superbike Shootout Dynojet Pro SportBike race, followed by the Superbike Shootout Pro SuperBike race at 3:30 p.m.