Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki was back to full-strength on Friday at Road America, with all three riders in action and the team battling in three separate classes of AMA road racing action in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Steve Rapp headed the charge, overcoming inclement weather to qualify his Michelin-shod GSX-R750 on the second row for tomorrow’s 10-lap Superstock final. The 30-year-old Californian displayed considerable prowess to qualify sixth despite his relative lack of wet-weather experience. Of course, he’s hoping for more favorable conditions for the remainder of the weekend, a sentiment backed up by his second overall time in the dry morning practice.
“Lots going on today,” said Rapp, who also qualified 13th provisionally for the weekend’s dual Superbike finals. “We worked on getting a good set-up for the 1000. On the Superstock bike I think things went pretty well considering that growing up in California we don’t ride in the rain a lot. I’m looking forward to a dry race; the wet just doesn’t do this track justice. It’s one of my favorite tracks — fast and flowing.”
Meanwhile, teammate Chris Ulrich made a breakthrough with his race machine set-up on Friday. The 23-year-old and his crew made some radical changes to the front-end of his GSX-R750, which should enable Ulrich to improve upon his 11th place Friday Superstock standing throughout the remainder of this weekend and beyond.
He explained, “Today we switched forks and instantly I went faster. I had been struggling with the front quite a bit all year, which was getting me down. But the change made me comfortable again and allows me to readjust everything. I can go in deep again — I just have to re-expand my limits. Hopefully tomorrow will be dry and we will be able to refine the package even more. We’re going to go faster.”
He was almost able to do so on Friday. “We were jumping up at the end. I kept going faster, dropping two seconds a lap. One more lap and I could have jumped up further, but that’s just the way it goes.”
Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki teenager Matt Furtek made a welcome return to action today. The South Holland, Illinois-native was sixth best in Group 1 (22nd overall) of Friday’s Superstock qualifying.