Team M4 EMGO Suzuki kicked off the second to last round of the 2005 AMA roadracing season with a strong showing on Friday at Virginia International Raceway. By the conclusion of the day, the squad had locked up a front-row grid position and put in several other impressive performances.
Michael Barnes continued to challenge the front-running factory riders in Formula Xtreme, qualifying his trick GSX-R600-based FX machine on the front row. The Floridian’s best lap of 1:27.270 was good enough to claim the third spot on the grid and less than a tenth of a second off the time set by his factory-backed rival who qualified second.
Afterwards, Barnes said, “I feel pretty good. We were on race tires for at least the first half of the session and we were nice and comfortable in the ‘27s on the race tires. So we accomplished one of our tasks for qualifying and that was to be comfortable on race tires. Then we went for something a little bit softer for a fast lap and they kept on coming and coming. I feel like if I just kept on throwing tires at it, I was going to keep on taking tenths off. The Pirellis worked awesome and my Suzuki just worked flawlessly the whole time. The competition is very tough and they’re making work hard, but I couldn’t be more pleased.”
Teammate Geoff May qualified for tomorrow’s Superbike final aboard his Superstock-spec GSX-R1000. May outpaced all but the riders armed with dedicated Superbikes, putting his big-bore Suzuki ninth on the provisional order with a fast lap of 1:26.768.
May was also in the top ten in the morning’s Superstock and Supersport free practices. The Georgian was a stellar fourth quick aboard his 1000cc GSX-R in Superstock with a best lap of 1:27.551. He backed that up by running tenth overall in Supersport aboard his GSX-R600 at 1:29.247.
Barnes also got in the top ten in the Superstock practice, laying down the tenth fastest lap at 1:28.162.
Team Crew Chief Keith Perry said of the day, “It went pretty well actually. I think coming here a month or so back helped us to get things sorted out quickly, and things went smoothly. Geoff looks good in Superbike. We’re using that class to help work on a few things for Superstock, but we’re going to race Superbike as well and see how we do. Formula Xtreme qualifying went well too. Barney was third but really close to second. It’s always a big challenge to go up against the factory guys, whether it’s practice, qualifying, or the races.”
On Saturday, Barnes will look to claim his second Formula Xtreme podium of the year, while May will contest the 28-lap Superbike race following final qualifying for the class in the morning. Superstock and Supersport qualifying will be completed as well in preparation of Sunday’s 17-lap races.