Team M4 EMGO Suzuki kicked off this weekend’s AMA race meeting at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in spectacular fashion on Friday. Spearheaded by an on-form Mike Barnes, the team played heavily near the top of the charts throughout the day, which ended with the Floridian claiming a front row starting position for tomorrow’s 16-lap Formula Xtreme race.
Barnes guided his Pirelli slick-shod GSX-R600 FX racer around the flowing 2.4-mile raceway near Lexington, Ohio, with a best lap of 1:28.848 during the afternoon qualifying session. His mark was less than a quarter-second off pole and quick enough to secure him the second spot on the Formula Xtreme grid. His effort saw him split up the long-dominant factory machines on the front row.
While pleased, Barnes is determined to continue improving. He said, “I’m relatively happy. I know we’ve got a little bit more to go. We’re real close to finding exactly what I want in the front end. We’re working on that and we worked on that throughout the test that we were here at last month and we’ve made a lot of progress. I really enjoy riding 600s — the GSX-R600 is just a missile and these guys do such a great job with it. Team M4 EMGO Suzuki is such a top-notch team, the bike just runs great, and the Pirelli tires were unbelievable as well. The bike worked phenomenally well and I thought we might have something for the factory guys to get pole today. I’m just looking forward to tomorrow.”
Barnes’ FX showing wasn’t his only highlight on Friday. He also ranked third in the day’s Superstock free practice, registering a 1:29.143 aboard the team’s fire-breathing GSX-R1000.
Teammate Geoff May enjoyed an impressive opening day of his own. The Georgian stood as the top Suzuki-mounted rider in the morning’s Supersport practice — sixth best overall — with a time of 1:35.400 in difficult damp/drying weather conditions. He then posted the sixth fastest time in the Superstock session as well, clocking a 1:29.958.
Saturday’s schedule sees Team M4 EMGO Suzuki qualifying in Supersport and Superstock and concludes with the 60k Formula Xtreme race.