DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes, the 2010 AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike champion, is beginning the 2011 season on the right note.
On Thursday, Hayes captured the provisional pole for the SuperBike rounds on Friday and Saturday. The rider of the No. 1 Yamaha R1 toured the 2.9-mile road course at one minute, 38.804 seconds, 127.890 mph.
“The boys worked hard and gave me what I needed to get up to speed pretty quick today,” Hayes said.
Hayes hopes the provisional pole-winning effort from his team translates into the start of another championship season.
“I won the championship last year and I came out of here horribly,” Hayes said. “I think I had 13th and a 6th or seventh or something. If I come out of here strong, I think it definitely would send a pretty good message across to everybody that I ‘m not going to start slow.”
SuperBike practice was rained out on Thursday morning so the series moved directly to qualifying in the afternoon.
“I thought this might play into my favor,” Hayes said. “I get up to speed pretty quick.”
Tommy Hayden and Blake Young, both aboard Suzukis, and Larry Pegram on a BMW rounded out the front row. SuperBike qualifying continues on Friday morning. The first 15-lap SuperBike race is set for 4:30 p.m. on Friday followed by the second 15-lap race on Saturday at 11:15 a.m.
This weekend’s motorcycle events, highlighted by the 70th Daytona 200 on Saturday afternoon, are the first two-wheel racing action on the new surface of Daytona International Speedway.
The track was repaved for only the second time in history following last July’s Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
“The new pavement is great,” Hayes said. “The track is beautiful. As far as racing goes, I don’t think it’s going to change the racing a whole lot. It’s just nice. It’s a little bit easier on you physically. You don’t have the bruised chest riding around the race track. My neck feels a whole lot better. That part is kind of nice.
“Otherwise it offers the same great racing that it always did.”
In other provisional qualifying, Miles Thornton on a Yamaha took the provisional pole in SuperSport with a time of one minute, 54.888 seconds, 109.986 mph. In the XR1200 provisional qualifying, Steve Rapp was fastest with a lap of two minutes, 8.317 seconds, 98.475 mph.
In Daytona SportBike practice for Saturday’s Daytona 200, Jason DiSalvo aboard a Ducati was fastest with a lap 93.678 mph, one minute, 51.445 seconds.
Tickets for Daytona International Speedway events are available online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.