In perhaps one of the most anticipated Superpole sessions of the season, Mat Mladin (No. 7 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-1000R) and Jason DiSalvo (No. 40 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600) captured pole positions in their respective classes in advance of the Kawasaki Superbike Showdown, presented by Supercuts at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California.
Basic qualifying results saw Factory Yamaha riders Ben Bostrom (No. 2 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1) and Josh Hayes (No. 4 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1) enter Superpole with the top two positions, while Mladin's earlier qualifying effort left him in an uncharacteristic third. During his run however, Mladin put an off-track excursion from earlier in the day behind him and put the Yamaha riders on notice with a lap of 1:36.231 (86.791 mph). Although their times were good enough to put the Yamaha machines on the front row, Bostrom and Hayes were unable to match the time that Mladin laid down in capturing his fifth consecutive pole of the 2009 AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited.
"Getting on the front row is good for us," said Mladin. "Right now we're trying to improve the motorbike and get it to a point where we feel comfortable. We've struggled with that so we went out with something very different for the (Superpole) lap to give us some direction for tomorrow. It worked pretty well so maybe we have found a bit of direction. But then again, who knows? It's a very different motorbike and we've got a lot to do to figure it out compared to the old one."
Going out next to last in Superpole, Hayes will start next to Mladin after turning a lap time of 1:36.861 (86.227 mph).
"Superpole has gone pretty decent for me so far this year," said Hayes, who also qualified a season-best second at Road Atlanta. "The formula has worked -- put in a clean lap, make few mistakes and get on the front row. But we're getting our butt kicked on Saturdays and Sundays. There's still work to do. We'll see what we can come up with; we have a couple of ideas. We'll see if we have a magic bullet so that we can get closer to the times we want."
Mladin's teammate Tommy Hayden (No. 22 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-1000R) topped his basic qualifying time of 1:37.019 (86.086 mph) during the Superpole session. Hayden will start third after turning a lap in 1:36.941 (86.156 mph).
"It was my best Superpole of the year," said Hayden. "It was the first time that I went faster than qualifying so I feel good about that. The last two races I missed the front row so this is important. I'm happy with this."
Bostrom turned the fastest lap of the day at 1:36.117 (86.894 mph) in basic qualifying but was unable to repeat his efforts, finishing Superpole with a time of 1:37.006 (86.098 mph) and rounding out the front line for the weekend's races.
"I didn't think (qualifying) was so good but I'm up here so that's good," said Bostrom, who will start from the front row for the first time this season. "I thought we'd be better. I didn't put it together like these other guys, but we're on the front row and we hope we can get up front. It will be a good race tomorrow."
Rising AMA Pro American Superbike talent Blake Young (No. 79 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-1000R) will be sitting out this weekend's event. Young suffered a hand injury at Barber Motorsports Park and was hoping to make a return to competition this weekend.
American Superbike Superpole Results
1. Mat Mladin/Suzuki -- 1:36.231 (86.791 mph)
2. Josh Hayes/Yamaha -- 1:36.861 (86.227)
3. Tommy Hayden/Suzuki -- 1:36.941 (86.156)
4. Ben Bostrom/Yamaha -- 1:37.005 (86.089)
5. Geoff May/ Suzuki -- 1:37.226 (85.903)
6. Aaron Yates/Suzuki -- 1:37.554 (85.614)
7. Larry Pegram/Ducati -- 1:38.023 (85.205)
8. Jake Holden/Honda -- 1:38.198 (85.053)
9. Neil Hodgson/Honda -- 1:38.698 (84.622)
10. David Anthony/Suzuki -- 1:38.858 (84.485)
Daytona SportBike Stunner
DiSalvo brought it when he needed it and was rewarded with his third straight Superpole of the 2009 AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL season as his lap time of 1:39.518 (83.925 mph) was fast enough to hold off the lap time of 1:39.990 (83.528 mph) turned by final Superpole qualifier Josh Herrin (No. 8 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6).
"The M4 guys did a tremendous job all day trying to get the bike to where we felt comfortable on it," said DiSalvo. "We started off the day not happy with how the bike was set up, but I've got to give a big thanks to the guys who got it ready for me. These guys even went as far as to put in a new motor for me for Superpole. I had no idea. They told me after the lap."
DiSalvo and Herrin were the only AMA Pro Daytona SportBike riders to best the 1:40 mark all day. Herrin led basic qualifying with a time of 1:39.543 (83.903 mph).
"It was a good lap for me. Every lap we're making progress in Superpole and we're starting to get better at it," said Herrin, who will start from the outside pole for the first time this season. "Hopefully next race we'll be even better. "My Yamaha has been working great around Infineon and I'm hoping that we'll have a good race."
Rounding out the top four in Superpole, and starting from Row 2 in the weekend's races will be Chaz Davies (No. 57 Factory Aprilia/ Millennium Technologies Team Aprilia RSV), who turned a lap of 1:40.081 (83.453 mph), and Tommy Aquino (No. 8 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6) with a lap time of 1:40.338 (83.239 mph).
In preparation for Saturday's AMA Pro SuperSport presented by Shoei qualifying session, Leandro Mercado (No. 92 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R) was over two seconds clear of the rest of the field at the culmination of the day's practice sessions. Mercado led the morning practice session with a time of 1:42.319 (81.627 mph) and was almost a second faster in the afternoon practice session with a time of 1:41.360 (82. 399 mph).
Russ Wikle (No. 5 RoadracingWorld.com Suzuki GSX-R600) cut nearly two seconds from his morning run of 1:45.175 (79.410 mph) to turn the second fastest lap at 1:43.426 (80.753 mph) in the afternoon. Ricky Parker (No. 96 Graves Motorsports/Hattiesburg Cycles Yamaha YZF-R6) posted the third fastest time of the day at 1:43.468 (80.721 mph). Consistently the fastest AMA Pro SuperSport rider of the day, Mercado has set the bar high for tomorrow's AMA Pro SuperSport qualifying event.