Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki’s Steve Rapp made his presence felt in the opening day of action at Brainerd International Raceway. Fresh off his Road America triumph, the 30-year-old ran at or near the top of the order in three separate classes throughout the day on Friday.
Riding his Michelin-shod GSX-R750, Rapp sat atop the timesheets in both Superstock practice sessions. He then jumped aboard his firebreathing GSX-R1000 and humbled a number of factory men in the opening Superbike qualifying session to claim fifth on the provisional grid. Immediately afterwards, Rapp backed up his performance on the 1000cc Suzuki by qualifying sixth best for tomorrow’s Formula Xtreme final.
“Today was good,” he said. “Everything is going smoothly and the bike is working great. It’s really fast — I was drafting past the Ducati and the Honda Superbikes. We know the bike has speed, now we can focus on getting the set-up dialed in.
“I’m really looking forward the Formula Xtreme race tomorrow, and I want to do both the Superbike and Superstock races on Sunday as well” said the top Michelin rider in the Superbike class.
Chris Ulrich also put together a strong Friday showing, ranking inside the top 10 in both of the day’s Superstock sessions. After struggling with pain in his shoulder at the last round, the 23-year-old received an injection from noted surgeon Dr. Ting last week and felt more comfortable on the bike Friday. It appears Chris is well on the way to getting his confidence back after some struggling a bit earlier in 2003
“I’m focused on getting into the top five or ten this weekend and building from there,” Chris said. In addition, a front suspension change greatly aided Ulrich’s front-end feel, helping him push harder and move up the timing charts.
Young rider Matt Furtek suffered a crash in the morning but was encouraged by the performance of his machinery. The Illinois-native fully expects to improve upon his 19th place practice ranking as the weekend develops.