Team M4 EMGO Suzuki enjoyed a successful first day of the 2005 AMA season finale at Road Atlanta. Michael Barnes rounded out a strong outing by the team on Friday by locking up a front row grid position for Saturday’s Formula Xtreme contest at the end of the day.
Barnes posted the third fastest mark in the FX qualifying session, stopping the clocks at 1:26.497 aboard his Pirelli slick-shod GSX-R600. Afterwards, the Floridian was pleased to have claimed yet another front row grid position but admitted there’s still room for improvement. Barnes will attempt to claim his second Formula Xtreme podium finish of the season.
Barnes said, “We’ve made progress this weekend and I’ve been happy with the progress that we’ve made. We’ve got some things to try in the morning.”
He continued, “We’ve been going stiffer and stiffer and stiffer on the suspension this weekend. I thought we had a pretty good baseline coming here, but we’ve been struggling a bit to get really comfortable. I feel like I’m working really hard to get these times. But the M4 EMGO Suzuki has run well ever since I got on it. The thing is a missile — I can hang with the factory bikes down the straightaways — I’m just struggling a bit with the suspension. I hope I can make a big gain by tomorrow because I plan to hang with the front pack.”
Barnes was also impressive in the morning’s Superstock free practice. He muscled his fire-breathing GSX-R1000 around the 2.52-mile circuit with a fast lap of 1:24.759, the fourth best time of the session.
Teammate Geoff May was solidly in the mix on Friday as well. He was seventh quick aboard both his big GSX-R in Superstock (1:25.492) and his middleweight GSX-R600 in Supersport (1:28.199). The Georgian was the fastest Suzuki-mounted rider in the Supersport practice at his home track.
Saturday’s schedule is jam-packed, with final qualifying taking place in Superstock and Supersport and the 60K Formula Xtreme final finishing up the day’s activities.