Reigning AMA Superbike Champion Ben Spies headed a Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 clean sweep of the top three places during qualifying for this weekend's AMA Superbike double-header at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.
The Texan rider beat his own lap record, set during his victory there last year, with a time of 1:24.318 around the sun-blessed 2.4-mile circuit to finish ahead of team mates Mat Mladin and Tommy Hayden.
Said Spies: "The bike's working really well but I'd like to my times down into the 1:23s. If the track is cooler in the morning and if I put a softer tyre on, I think it's possible. But right now we've got a good bike and it's working really well on race tyres."
Barber was where he began his 2006 championship victory-run last season: After his double-victory, he followed up with wins at California Speedway and Infineon Raceway and by the time defending Champion Mat Mladin recovered, it was too late.
"It's just it's nice to come back here - the first track where we kind of started the streak and we started the Championship season - and come back with the Number One plate and be on the top so far. Mat's definitely stepped his game up too and it's going to be a good weekend an interesting year and I think."
Mladin was consistently second fastest and he finished just 700ths-of-a-second behind, closely followed by the newest Yoshimura team member Tommy Hayden with a time of 1:25.070.
Combined Superbike Qualifying:
- 1. Ben Spies (Yoshimura Suzuki) 1:24.318
- 2. Mat Mladin (Yoshimura Suzuki) 1:25.013
- 3. Tommy Hayden (Yoshimura Suzuki) 1:25.070
- 4. Eric Bostrom (Yamaha) 1:25.832
- 5. Miguel Duhamel (Honda) 1:25.942
- 6. Jake Holden (Suzuki) 1:26.045
- 7. Jason Disalvo (Yamaha) 1:26.052
- 8. Jake Zemke (Honda) 1:26.401
- 9. Aaron Yates (Suzuki) 1:26.434
- 10. Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki) 1:26.577