Team Hammer registered a solid performance today at Auto Club Speedway as the highly-anticipated GEICO Motorcycle Superbike Shootout Presented By Yamaha kicked off with its inaugural race action.
M4 SportbikeTrackGear.com Racing’s Joe Roberts and MPH’s Melissa Paris were determined to continue the improvement they showed on Saturday in Fontana, California and come out swinging in the first of three Dynojet Pro Sportbike races set to be featured in the three-stop GEICO Motorcycle Superbike Shootout.
16-year-old Roberts, who took the nation by storm with a remarkable debut professional season in 2013, continued to showcase the skills that have brought him serious acclaim in a short amount of time. The Californian engaged in a heated three-rider battle for a top-five result in Sunday’s 20-lap Sportbike contest, ultimately falling less than a half-second short of fifth.
Roberts ultimately equaled his qualifying position by taking the checkered flag in seventh, but flashed the potential for even more. In the heat of competition, the up-and-comer circulated the 2.36-mile circuit with a fast lap of 1:28.672 aboard his M4 SportbikeTrackGear.com Honda CBR600RR. That lap was over a second faster than the time he posted during qualifying and was quicker than all but the podium finishers during today’s race.
“It went well,” said Roberts. “We made a lot of progress on the bike and figured out a lot of things about the bike and continued to get it dialed. I think we made a big jump. We were one second off the pace for the win, which is closer than we were at Daytona. Some really good riders were here so this is the fast pace and we’re closer.
“I feel like we’re in good shape for the next races as we continue to make progress. This race today was a lot of fun and I am glad we had the opportunity,” Roberts continued. “I haven’t been to Sonoma before so it will be good to get a shot there as well. I am looking forward to it. I have plenty of experience getting up to speed at tracks I haven’t raced before so I think we will do fine.”
Paris also continued to pick up the pace as the race weekend progressed. She piloted her Team Hammer Contract Services-prepared MPH Honda CBR600RR to a best race lap of 1:33.979, essentially a half-second improvement on her qualifying effort (1:34.476).
Paris managed to pick up a couple of spots in the process, finishing in 13th after starting in 15th.
There’s little time to relax now, as Team Hammer will immediately head to the second round of the GEICO Motorcycle Superbike Shootout Presented By Yamaha, which will take place next weekend (May 3-4) for the Arai Pacific Nationals at scenic Sonoma Raceway, in Sonoma, California.