Hayes Tops Timesheets on Friday at NJMP

Brian J Nelson

AMA Superbike legend Josh Hayes came out swinging as the New Jersey Motorsports Park round of the 2017 MotoAmerica season got underway today.

MotoAmerica Press Office

Four-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes has won 11 races at New Jersey Motorsports Park. During the two practice sessions on Friday at NJMP, Hayes showed that he has the pace to fight for more Motul Superbike wins in the Garden State tomorrow and Sunday at the Championship of New Jersey.

Hayes turned the quickest lap of the day in the afternoon’s second session, the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory rider clicking off a 1:21.130 to lead Yoshimura Suzuki’s championship leader Toni Elias by .099 of a second.

Hayes said, “It’s definitely a good day. We made some progress at Sonoma and some progress at Pittsburgh. I felt like I rode well, even though the results were so, so. In Pittsburgh I made a mistake in the first race, but I felt like I rode a solid second race. I feel like I’m making some strides and I’m feeling better. I keep trying to tell myself and remember that I’ve won a lot of races here [in New Jersey]. I think I’ve won 11 races here. It’s a good racetrack for me. I need to keep remembering I’ve got the most experience of anybody here and start acting like it.  

“All in all it’s been a steady day. The team and I did good work. I don’t know if we can go outright faster a whole lot, but we can definitely improve our race distance, which is the most important thing for us. Give me a bike that, if it gets late in the race, I can fight with to be able to turn under people and stuff like that. All in all a good day, I’m happy to be on top of the time sheets. It seems like it’s been quite a while, but we’ll keep plugging away.”

Elias said, “I’m very happy. The last two races I felt Cameron [Beaubier] had a lot of pace, something extra. And I felt some things, which I didn’t like, with the setup we have. The bike is really good, but I was missing something, and this something arrived today. We work hard. I don’t know [if] this [setup] idea came from nowhere, but it was a great idea. It works and gives me more confidence in the front and more confidence in the rear. The pace is more consistent. This is a thing I missed the past two races, and I would like to fight with Cameron right now, because we believe we can be at the same level and have a great battle, but [I’m] sad [he’s injured]. Yesterday I talked with him. I wished good luck for [shoulder] surgery today.  

“Now I’m concentrating on my job. I think we have good pace and we are doing a perfect job. I think this bike is the best bike I’ve had this season, and I’m very happy. I’m confident for tomorrow. I think we can have the same lap times with the new tires and with the old tires, which is really good.”

Third place went to YCRS/Cambr/KWR/Yamaha's Kyle Wyman, the leader of the first session. Wyman was just .261 of a second behind Hayes.

Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz was fourth fastest, and the fastest of the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 men. Scholtz lapped at 1:21.648 to best Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden and Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda’s Jake Gagne, the last rider to lap in the 1:21s. The top six riders were separated by just 0.773 of a second.

The two Supersport practice sessions were again led by championship points leader Garrett Gerloff on his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha R6, the Texan beat his teammate JD Beach by 1.123 seconds. M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Valentin Debise was third fastest, just .013 of a second slower than Beach.

The KTM RC Cup, meanwhile, held the first of its two qualifying sessions on Friday with Sean Ungvarsky having his best day in the class to lead the time sheets. Alex Dumas and Jackson Blackmon were second and third, respectively, with championship leader Benjamin Smith ending Day 1 in third.