Team M4 EMGO Suzuki put together a second consecutive solid day’s work at Virginia International Raceway on Saturday. Highlighting the afternoon were Michael Barnes and his battle for a podium position during a hard-fought Formula Xtreme race and Geoff May’s performance aboard his Superstock-spec GSX-R1000.
After qualifying third fastest overall on Friday and starting from the front row in today’s 17-lap FX contest, Barnes diced with a determined pack of rivals over third place. When two of those in contention crashed out of the race, the Floridian looked in good shape to lock the spot up aboard his GSX-600. Unfortunately, a miscalculation in tire choice prevented him from claiming a spot on the podium. Barnes took the checkered flag in fifth, less than two seconds behind third.
Team Crew Chief Keith Perry said, “Barney had a mixed bag today. He felt really good going into the FX race. I don’t know if it was just the difference from the morning to the afternoon, but we ran a tire we were really comfortable with but it turned out to be a little bit too soft for this particular race. He really wanted to push and stay with the guys out front but he just couldn’t do it today.”
In the day’s earlier Superstock qualifying session, May secured the sixth spot on the grid with a fast lap of 1:26.461. While an undeniably strong performance, the team is especially optimistic heading into Sunday’s 60k race knowing that it didn’t fully demonstrate how well May and his Pirelli-shod GSX-R1000 are performing this weekend. Barnes will line up a row behind May in the race, qualifying in ninth with a quick time of 1:27.078.
Perry commented, “We practiced well and we qualified well. We’re really happy with Superstock qualifying because we were working on race set-up and were pretty much using that the whole time. Geoff has been toward the top of the charts a lot throughout the weekend and I see a lot of similarities to the Elkhart weekend where he earned his first podium. He’s got his confidence up and the bike working well. He didn’t qualify as well as he’d like — he’ll start on the second row — which is the same as Elkhart. I think he’ll have a good day tomorrow, I really do.”
May also got in the top ten in Supersport qualifying. He was the second ranked Suzuki-mounted rider with a time of 1:28.484, good enough for the tenth slot on the grid.
Sunday will round out the VIR weekend with races in Superbike, Supersport, and Superstock on the day’s schedule.