Team M4 EMGO Suzuki’s Michael Barnes made a successful return to the Formula Xtreme class this weekend at Infineon Raceway after missing the season’s opening three races due to a knee injury suffered at Daytona International Raceway. Despite his extended layoff from riding the team’s Pirelli-shod GSX-R600 FX racer, the Floridian guided it to a top-five finish in his comeback performance on Saturday.
After leading Friday’s rain shortened session, Barnes claimed a spot on the front row for the 17-lap race during qualifying, which was rescheduled from Friday afternoon to Saturday morning. Starting from the third slot on the grid thanks to his 1:39.067 lap time, he ran in third early in the race and remained in contention for a podium finish deep into the race before ultimately finishing in fifth.
“It’s been a little bit up and down this weekend wondering what the weather was going to do and then using our practice session this morning as qualifying,” Barnes said. “We put in some fast times this morning and the race started out as I wanted it to. I got a strong start but just couldn’t quite stay with the leaders.”
“I’m pleased with a top five in my first FX race back,” he continued. “We’ve got the FX bike feeling really similar to my Supersport bike and I think that’s helped us get back up to speed so quickly. While it would have been nice to throw it right on the box, I’ll take this one and move on.”
Barnes will have another shot at a podium finish on Sunday. He qualified fourth fastest in Supersport with a fast time 1:38.615 and will start from the outside of the front row for the 17-lap race as a result.
“We’ll shift our focus to tomorrow’s Supersport race now,” Barnes said. “We put in a real strong qualifying effort and got on the front row. My team just works so hard, I’m stoked to be back on both of my bikes. I’m feeling as close to 100% as I have all year and I’m looking forward to a strong race in Supersport.”
Teammate Geoff May was only one position behind Barnes in Supersport qualifying with the fifth best time in the session (1:38.743). May also impressed in Superstock, guiding his powerful GSX-R1000 racer to a spot on the front row for Sunday’s 60k final. The Georgian was fourth best in the class with a quick lap of 1:37.430.
The team’s developmental rider Shea Fouchek will start tomorrow’s Supersport final from the sixth row. The Texan qualified in 23rd position after posting a time of 1:44.070.