Josh Hayes will start from pole in the final Superbike Feature races of the 2016 MotoAmerica National season, after toping the time sheets in Superbike SuperPole 2 at New Jersey Motorsport Park. Riding his Monster Energy/Graves works Yamaha YZF-R1, Hayes made the most of his yellow-striped Dunlop special soft rear slick, turning a lap at 1:21.1.
Earlier in practice, Hayes had turned a best lap of 1:21.5, third best of the session, on the “regular” Dunlop slick rubber. In final SuperPole, each of the top 12 Pro riders were allotted a special Dunlop soft Qualifying tire.
The effort was Hayes’ second pole of 2016, and the 40th overall in the career of the multi-time overall American national motorcycle road racing Champion.
“I fell like that was a good effort, everything hasn’t always worked out this year, I haven’t always done my best, so I’m happy with that,” confirmed Hayes in the post-Q Media session. “It’s really hot and humid today, and that’s having an effect on everyone, our conditioning and our equipment. But I fell like after the announcement at lunch today, it’s really good to put this Yamaha on pole.”
Earlier in the New Jersey program, the Yamaha team confirmed that Hayes would continue with the team for 2017, once again joined by current series points leader and 2015 Champion Cameron Beaubier. 23-year-old Beaubier was quickest prior to the SuperPole session, but suffered a minor tumble in the Q Session with his number one plated 1000cc Yamaha, and wound up third on the grid for Sunday’s pair of 25 lap Superbike rounds.
“It was really minor, second gear, no big deal,” explained Beaubier following the incident, when he delayed his fast lap and then perhaps allowed his front tire to cool too much. “I’m fine, and we’ll be ready for our races.”
Beaubier leads Hayes 298 to 269 in the points standings, and it will take some unusual events during the two races to keep Beaubier from winning his second straight crown.
“I fell like Cam has done everything right, really done his homework, and he’s ready to take the title,” explained Hayes of the Championship battle between the team-mates.
Jake Gagne was second quickest in Qualifying to earn the second start spot with his Broaster Chicken/Roadrace Factory Yamaha, a return to form after some recent testing activity for the squad. Gage turned a lap at 1:21.273, just ahead of Beaubier’s 1:21.348 effort.
“We had some new parts that we were happy with in testing, and then I wasn’t too happy yesterday, so we took some of them off,” smiled Gagne. “But our A bike is working really well, we have a new suspension link, and we’re aiming to finish up the year strong, we have two more races to show where we are.”
Top Yoshimura Suzuki was Roger Hayden in fourth, followed by upstart Matthew Scholtz in fifth on the Yamalube/Westby Racing Yamaha. The second row will be completed by the sixth best effort of Kyle Wyman, on the Millennium Tech Yamaha.
Former World Series front runner Toni Elias of Spain crashed early in qualifying with the second Yosh-Suz, and wills start eight (middle of the third row) in both of Sunday’s races.
In Saturday’s opening Supersport/Superstock 600 race 1 over 23 laps of the 12 turn, 3.8 km long venue, Yamaha’s reigning Champ J.D. Beach took victory after a good battle with team-mate and points leader Garrett Gerloff. If Beach wins tomorrow and Gerloff places second, then Gerloff earns the 2016 title.
The sole Canuk in the race, fast starting Alex Coelho of Brossard, QC, encountered engine problems early in the race with his Kawasaki and was forced to retire. Further work will be required to determine if Coelho’s equipment can be repaired for tomorrow’s New Jersey National action.