Team M4 EMGO Suzuki came into the second round of the 2006 AMA season at Barber Motorsports Park on Friday four-strong and determined to make their presence felt throughout the weekend at the scenic Alabama circuit.
Many eyes throughout the paddock closely tracked the progress of Barber Superbike race winner Kurtis Roberts aboard the squad’s potent Pirelli-shod GSX-R600 Formula Xtreme racer. Filling in for Michael Barnes who injured his knee at the Daytona season opener, the former MotoGP competitor improved from eighth in the morning practice to qualify fifth for Saturday’s 17-lap final.
The hard-charging Roberts posted a best time of 1:28.841 in his first qualifying session for the team. Even bigger things are expected from the talented racer come race time.
Georgian Geoff May showed impressive speed in the day’s Superstock and Supersport practices. He notched up the third best time of the Superstock practice aboard his powerful GSX-R1000 with a quick lap of 1: 28.360. Immediately following the Superstock session, he put in the fourth fastest lap in the Supersport practice, making his way around the undulating racetrack in 1:29.063.
Barnes surprised the team by healing quicker than expected and was given a Supersport-spec GSX-R600 to ride this weekend in order to help him get back into the flow. He was immediately on the pace, setting the eighth best time of the free practice at 1: 30.546.
Young Shea Fouchek was 20th in the Supersport session at 1:32.718.
At the end of the day, Team M4 EMGO Suzuki Crew Chief Keith Perry said, “We’re doing well. We’re not exactly where we want to be on the FX bike, but nobody is concerned because Kurtis knows what we did at the test and we’re making some changes. We’re all just methodically working through a few things.” “Geoff is riding great,” Perry added. “He rode really well on the 1000 and the 600 in both practices and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do this weekend. “Barney’s knee is really coming along faster than what we were told to expect. This is a good test for him to be able to ride here. It’s going to be a good workout for him to run Supersport and hopefully not overwork it. “We have a new mechanic working with Shea and there will be a little bit of an adjustment period as they get used to working together. They just need more time.”