Dane Westby’s quest to secure second position in the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike Championship at the 2012 season finale at NOLA Motorsports Park got off to a solid start on Friday.
Westby, who enters the first AMA Pro race at the new track with a 22-point advantage over third with only the weekend’s doubleheader remaining, was seventh fastest in provisional qualifying on Friday
with a best time of 1:44.255.
The Oklahoman currently boasts nine podium results this season, including a spectacular victory at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Another consistent, front-running weekend would allow Westby to complete his outstanding campaign as the season’s SportBike championship runner-up.
Meanwhile, Team Venezuela’s Robertino Pietri led the way for the squad in AMA Pro Superbike. Pietri and M4 Suzuki’s Chris Ulrich come into New Orleans riding the momentum of their best outing of the season scored last time out at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Pietri, who finished sixth in the most recent race, was seventh quickest and on the
provisional second row on Friday with a fast time of 1:41.806.
Ulrich, who notched up a sixth and an eighth in Miami, encountered his fair share of drama on the opening day of AMA Pro competition at NOLA Motorsports Park. Ulrich suffered a huge crash in the free practice, which saw his bike ripped in two with the front forks completely separated from the rest of the bike. The Californian escaped unscathed
and came back to log the 13th best qualifying time at 1:43.565.
“I’m a little sore, but luckily nothing is too messed up. It was a big crash — based on the data from my other bike, you’re going about 100mph right there,” said Ulrich. “I had just done my fastest lap of the session and was on a good lap again. I turned it into Turn 10 and then the front pushed and I was on my head. It happened really fast and it
did a lot of damage to the bike. The bike flipped and barrel rolled after it hit the soft dirt. The crash broke the actual fork tubes and ripped some other parts off. The crew will rebuild it tonight and we’ll see if it’s bent.
“A pretty good escape considering. I came back and went faster in qualifying but I was making a few mistakes. I’ve got some room to improve. No doubt, you have a 100-mph crash and it takes the wind out of your sails a little bit, but we still improved the next session. We looked at the data tonight and I know where I’m leaving time on the table and we’ll try to improve that tomorrow.”
Suzuki SportBikeTrackTime.com‘s Elena Myers finished the day in the top 10 in SuperSport qualifying. Myers, who is currently third in the SuperSport West Region points race, was ninth at 1:46.716.
Team Hammer’s riders will come back Saturday at NOLA Motorsports Park to claim their final grid positions and compete in the penultimate races of their respective classes.
In 2012, Team Hammer, Inc. is competing in its 32nd consecutive racing season and marks its sixth year of offering technical and logistical support through its Contract Services Department. Riders on Team Hammer-prepared racebikes have earned 54 AMA Pro National race wins; 129 AMA Pro National podium finishes; 5 AMA Pro Championships; 133 Overall National Endurance race wins; 13 National Endurance Championships and assorted other race wins and titles.