Team M4 EMGO Suzuki enjoyed a productive day at Laguna Seca despite the extremely difficult conditions presented by Saturday’s sweltering heat. The squad picked up a top-five race result and a front row qualifying slot while contending with temperatures that topped 100°F.
The last thing needed in the oppressive heat was an extended period spent on the grid and a second warm-up lap prior to the Formula Xtreme race. Unfortunately that’s what happened and many racers saw their coolant temperatures skyrocket. Michael Barnes’ Suzuki GSX-R600 lost a considerable amount of water as a result.
His bike expectedly slowed early in the contest but the Floridian still managed to bring it home in fifth, a more than acceptable finish considering the circumstances.
Crew Chief Keith Perry explained, “We had a little misfortune we had to deal with. With the starting grid being held up so long before the race we lost a lot of water before the race actually got started. There wasn’t anything we could do about it. The bike started slowing after the second or third lap. Actually our water temperature was about 255-260. I was very happy that the bike was able to finish. Many of the other bikes that lost water didn’t end up going five laps. We did what we could and got what we could out of it. The conditions were very adverse and it was very unpredictable that we had to wait that long on the grid and then have a second warm-up lap.”
The team is hoping for a smoother outing on Sunday and will be well positioned to contend for podium placings following Saturday’s successful qualifying sessions.
Geoff May put his GSX-R600 on the front row for the Supersport final, qualifying in the third position with a fast lap of 1:28.749. Barnes was just two spots further down the order and will start the 15-lap race from the inside of the second row thanks to his 1:28.853 lap.
Perry said, “Geoff did a really good job qualifying third and Barney isn’t much further back in fifth. We’re looking forward to it. I think we’ve got some good tires for that race. We’ll see how that goes and I think it could be fun.”
May is also looking to be in fine shape in Superstock. The Georgian, who has finished in the top four of every Superstock race this season, will attempt to add another trophy to his collection on Sunday. While he qualified sixth fastest at 1:27.124, he was able to turn his fast times in race trim and expects his Pirelli tires to be up to the task tomorrow.
Shea Fouchek improved by nearly three seconds from Friday to Saturday. He also moved four spots up the order, qualifying in 23rd at 1:33.740. With the limited track time available, the Laguna Seca weekend is an especially difficult one for a young rider looking to gain in experience.
Perry explained, “Shea is coming along. It’s hard here — he doesn’t have much experience at this track and we don’t get much track time during this weekend. He doesn’t get a chance to come here and do a lot of laps and think about things.”
On Sunday Team M4 EMGO Suzuki will take part in the Supersport and Superstock to complete the highly publicized USGP weekend at Laguna Seca.