May 14, 2011 MOTORSPORTS PAGEJohn Crowley
SONOMA -- Josh Hayes showed a rare moment of vulnerability Saturday in final qualifying for the AMA American Superbike main event at Infineon Raceway. Shortly after claiming the pole with a lap of 1 minute, 35.717 seconds, the reigning series champion crashed in Turn 4 -- sending his Yamaha R1 cartwheeling into the grass and bringing his session to a dramatic end.
Perhaps Hayes, who said earlier in the week that his strategy was to lead every lap of every session at the 12-turn wine-country road course, was trying to eclipse his pole-winning time from last year (1:36.711). In 2009 he swept the AMA Northern Cal event to launch his first championship-winning season.
"Quite honestly, I don't know, I went down into Turn 4 there, broke kinda early, turned it in and I kinda lost the front," Hayes said.
"It was the longest, slowest crash ... about in the middle of it, I was like, 'I think I'm going to crash.' And the next thing I know I'm sliding down the pavement. Unfortunately, it tore the bike up a little bit."
Hayes was OK after the tumble and tried to ride his bike back to the pits but the Monster Energy Graves Yamaha required a lift from the crashtruck.
Despite the setback, Hayes was unconcerned.
He'll start No. 1 on the front row alongside Suzuki's Tommy Hayden (1:36.171), who qualified second, fellow Suzuki GSX-R1000 rider Blake Young (1:36.829) and Petaluma's Ben Bostrom (1:36.845), riding for Jordan Suzuki.
"We're pretty confident," Hayes said. "We've been in this position before. (The temperature) was pretty cool this morning, but the bike worked well, things were hooked up, I found some good clean racetrack to work with, which is a big help around here."
Counting last year's tandem-victory (AMA hosts main events on Saturday and Sunday), Hayes has won three of the last four AMA Pro Road Racing SuperBike on the 2.32-mile road course.
"I just feel like we're back where we were last year," Hayes said. "We're still going to look and see if we can make some improvements, but we're pretty confident with what we have."
Lafayette native Steve Rapp will start fifth on his BMW S1000.
In Daytona Sportbike qualifying, Jason DiSalvo (Ducati 848) topped the field with a lap of 1:39.257, followed by Josh Herrin (Yamaha YXF-R61:39.383), Jake Holden (Ducati1:39.444) and Danny Eslick (Suzuki GXX-R6001:40.182).
Benny Solis (Honday CBR600RR1:42.413) and David Gaviria (Yamaha YZF-Rg1:43.265 were 1-2 in AMA Pro SuperSport qualifying.