Jake Holden made a most impressive debut for Team M4 Monster Energy Suzuki on Friday at Infineon Raceway. Standing in for the injured John Hopkins, Holden ranked near the top of the charts right from the opening AMA Pro American Superbike class practice and continued to run up front throughout the day.
After setting the second fastest time in the day’s free session, Holden qualified the #3 Suzuki GSX-R1000 on the provisional front row for the weekend’s twin AMA Superbike finals. Improving by more than a half second from his earlier practice time, the Washington native registered the third best time of qualifying with a fast lap of 1:36.646.
Holden expected to be competitive this weekend but admitted that things came along even quicker than he hoped on Friday at Infineon Raceway.
He said, “It surprised me a little bit. I knew these M4 Monster Energy Suzuki guys had a good bike and a good program so I was confident that we’d get up to speed pretty quickly, but I wasn’t expecting this. Considering that we still haven’t found the magic set-up yet and we’re not off the front guys — actually we’re part of the front guys — feels really good. I’m fortunate to have this opportunity with a great team and a great crew. I’m looking forward to race.”
Despite the solid start, Holden says there’s plenty of room for improvement overnight. He explained, “I’m going to sit down with the guys and we’re going to go over quite a few things to try. It’s been a couple years since I’ve been on a Suzuki and it’s a lot different than the bikes I’ve been riding. We’ve got gearing changes, suspension changes, and chassis stuff to work through. We’ll go through all that stuff tonight and hopefully find the magic set-up for tomorrow.”
Holden’s Superbike teammate, Chris Ulrich, was solidly in the top ten on Friday as well. The Californian, who currently ranks sixth in the season’s AMA Superbike championship standings, was ninth fastest on Friday with a best lap of 1:38.444.
Meanwhile, Road Atlanta double winner Martin Cardenas ended Friday seventh on the provisional AMA Pro Daytona grid. The Colombian, who is seeking his fourth victory of the young 2010 season, was less than three tenths off a spot on the provisional front row in the tightly-packed session with his best time of 1:39.436.
On Saturday morning Team M4 Monster Energy Suzuki will solidify their grid positions during final qualifying and then come out in the afternoon for the weekend’s opening Superbike and SportBike races.