Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki opened the Laguna Seca AMA/World Superbike race weekend in impressive style on Friday, especially when considering that the team hadn’t tested at the tricky circuit beforehand while many of their rivals had visited twice prior to this race weekend.
Vincent Haskovec piloted his Michelin slick-shod GSX-R600 to the fourth best time in the day’s Formula Xtreme qualifying session earning the final position on the front row. Haskovec posted a fastest lap of 1:29.127 around the 2.2-mile circuit and was outpaced only by a trio of full-works machines.
“I’m very pleased to have qualified on the front row,” said Haskovec. “We had some problems in the morning practice, but we came back almost a second and a half faster in the afternoon even without using a qualifying tire. I just ran a soft tire to set my fast lap, so I’m happy with how today went on the Xtreme bike.”
Haskovec and his teammate Steve Rapp had a considerably less satisfying time in the Superstock qualifying session. The two ended the session with side-by-side third row grid positions; Haskovec in eleventh at 1:29.919 and Rapp in twelfth at 1:30.098.
Both riders lost valuable track time aboard their GSX-R750s during the session with bike problems. Rapp, looking to make up for lost time, ended up crashing while attempting to put in a flyer on a qualifying tire.
Rapp did fare better on his 600 machine, however, posting the eighth best lap of the day’s single Supersport practice. The Californian clocked a 1:31.483 to rank as the second quickest man on a Suzuki on the day.
Rapp commented, “Superstock qualifying was pretty frustrating today, but we’re not doing too badly on the Supersport bike. We’re right there where we’ve been recently — just behind the top factory guys. We just need to keep improving and start getting in front of those guys more often now.”
Youngster Chris Peris was twelfth best in the Supersport session at 1:32.564. The Canadian focused on learning the nuances of the famed Northern Californian circuit in what’s only his second ever visit to the track.
“Laguna Seca isn’t a track you can just go fast at right from the start,” Peris said. “It’s very technical and it takes quite a bit of track and set-up time to get it right. I’m just going to keep my head down and get as competitive as I can before Sunday’s race.
Saturday will be a packed day for Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki with 17-lap finals in Formula Xtreme and Superstock, along with final qualifying in Supersport.