MONTEREY, Calif. (July 11) — The opening day of the FIM World Superbike Championship, GEICO Motorcycle U.S. Round left teammates Chris Ulrich and Jake Zemke wanting a little more from their CBR Hondas. Fortunately, the duo and their race team will have another full day of qualifying to find a little more speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca before racing for the trophy Sunday.
Ulrich, a wild-card entry in the World Superbike Series this weekend, turned a best lap of 1:27.169 during Friday’s three timed practice sessions. The elapsed time around 2.2-mile, 11-turn course placed him 26th in the field.
“These guys are world-class and the speed and pace they run is impressive,” Ulrich said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do but we did improve in each of today’s three sessions, which was cool. The rules package and the things they can do to their bikes in this series isn’t drastically different from how we normally run in AMA Pro but when the field is separated by hundreds of a second, every little thing counts.
“It took a few laps to get used to Pirelli tires but once we got past that barrier in the first practice session I was able to put my head down and ride. We’re not quite where we want or need to be, obviously, but we learned some things today, especially in the third session, and I know the guys will be working hard tonight to make us faster.”
World Superbike will hold one more non-timed session at 10 a.m. before shifting to Superpole action from 1-1:40 p.m. PT. The two World Superbike Championship races will take place at 11 and 2:45 p.m. PT, Sunday.
Zemke continued his season-long battle in AMA Pro Daytona SportBike, completing the day’s lone qualifying session in eighth place with a best circuit of 1:28.319. His time is less than a second off leader Jake Lewis’ pace, giving Zemke plenty of optimism heading into Saturday’s final qualifying round, scheduled for 10:40 a.m. PT.
“I seem to say this every weekend but the bike is getting better,” Zemke said. “We’ve improved on what we had at Barber and it showed out there today. The guys have been pecking away at the set-up and we’re trying to get everything we can out of the bike.
“It’s encouraging to see the top group so close on the timing sheets. If we can squeeze just a touch more out of it than we could gain positions very easily. We do run much early tomorrow so maybe the cloud cover will help us. As long as it’s dry we could be very quick.”
The 20-lap main event for Daytona SportBike will begin at 1:25 p.m. PT, Sunday.