Steve Rapp further cemented his place among the Superstock elite on Friday at Mid-Ohio, qualifying the Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki GSX-R750 on the pole. The 30-year-old posted a blistering 1:29.782 to claim the honor, more a second beneath than the old track record.
Rapp, the 1998 Mid-Ohio Superstock victor, will be looking to get back to his winning ways in tomorrow’s 16-lap final at the tricky Midwestern track. The Californian saw his two-race win streak snapped last time out at Laguna Seca, when he was forced off track on the opening lap by another rider and made a spirited charge back into the top five.
“We’re on pole again in Superstock, which is great. The bike is handling really well, doing everything I’d like it to do. Thanks to the team for all their hard work,” Steve said after taking pole. “I think there is some more time left in the bike though. I think we can go even faster.
Rapp has re-signed with the team for the 2004 season. “Re-signing with Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki is fantastic. This year has been my best season in a long time and I think we can continue moving forward next year.”
“It’s great to have Steve coming back again,” said Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki’s Keith Perry. “You know he’s always going to give you 100% when he’s out there, and you can’t ask for more than that. We’re starting to get a good understanding of working together and have made some big strides lately. We expect even bigger things in the future.”
Rapp was also in the top ten during both Formula Xtreme practices on Friday.
Defending Mid-Ohio Superstock winner Chris Ulrich will start from third row in his bid to repeat. Ulrich improved upon his morning and afternoon practice rankings to qualify 12th.
Team manager Keith Perry commented further on the team’s Friday. “Today went reasonably well for us. We’re really happy with how things are going on the 750 but we’ve got some work to do yet on the Formula Xtreme bike. This is a tough place to sort out a bigger bike.”
Matt Furtek went home to consult with his doctors after practice on Friday, due to problems with numbness in his right hand.