ROAD RACING - Bostrom Takes Laguna Pole
By Henny Ray Abrams
Photo By Henny Ray Abrams
(Photo ©Copyright Cycle News, Inc. 2002)
Kawasaki’s Eric Bostrom earned the pole position for Saturday’s AMA/Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike race in Thursday’s lone qualifying session on a hot afternoon at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca.
The part-time World Superbike rider held the fastest lap late in the session, then made sure it wouldn't be bettered when he clocked a 1:25.716 around the 2.2-mile road course. After the bumps and tar patches of Brainerd International Raceway, Bostrom was happy to be back on a proper race course. What he wasn’t happy about was the seemingly ubiquitous traffic.
“It‘s the definitely the way you want to start the weekend, but I tell you it’s real tough for all of us guys out there with the traffic situation,” Bostrom said. “Really, I don’t think any of us have worked on bike set-up to the point where we want to because you go out there and you can’t even hit the same line because there’s so many bikes in the way.” Bostrom said that by lowering the his time, and therefore putting less riders within reach of the 112% rule, he’d be able to “take out some of the hazards.”
American Honda’s Nicky Hayden was 0.604 seconds back in second with Yoshimura Suzukis filling out the front row, Aaron Yates in third and Mat Mladin in fourth.
Yates said his set-up was at about 70%, “But we’ve still got some work to do for sure. Eric (Bostrom), he’s really railing around out there and if we want to get up there and ride with him on Saturday, we definitely got some work to do.”
Yates had his own problems with traffic, punting one lapper out of the way.
“He was in the way totally,” Yates said. “I couldn’t do nothing else. I had to let him know he was in the way.” Yates said that it was disappointing because he’d make changes to the bike, then get blocked on either a fast lap or in the corner he was working on. “I don’t understand how half of them guys out there, they’re even allowed out there to tell you the truth,” Yates said.
Mladin echoed the theme, saying that he had mechanics at his Suzuki shop back in Australia that were faster than some of the lappers. His problems had less to do with traffic and more to do with his endless summer.
“My bike it still isn’t working that well, I’m having a few problems and stuff,” he said. “I wish I could get something sorted out, but we’re struggling with it. It’s been one big long night since Daytona. I haven’t woken up yet.”
Thursday’s lone qualifying session came after a single practice session this morning. Mladin didn’t mind the schedule.
“It’s really no different to any other weekend, except we don’t go back out tomorrow,” he said. “We always have to qualify on Friday afternoon anyway and so some type of a decent lap because we never know if it’s going to rain the next day or whatever.”
One difference is in the number of superbikes. Since there are slightly different rules for World Superbike-unleaded fuel and different throttle bodies-most of the teams have one machine set up for World Superbike and one for AMA. Bostrom has one of each, plus one spare. Effectively it means that riders won’t be able to compare set-ups between two different machines, as they might in AMA racing.
“It’s a little bit less track time,” Mladin said. “In the end, it’s going to hurt the guys who haven’t done world Superbike more than us. We get to do WSB tomorrow. We’re going to have heaps of track time.”
How much time is up in the air. In order to maintain something of a level playing, or at least, practice field, the AMA wild cards were told they would be allowed to qualify in the one-hour WSB sessions, but wouldn’t be allowed to practice. At the end of the day Thursday, the riders were still in the dark.
“I don’t know what they’ve done,” Mladin said. “I know they’ve changed their minds about 30 times in the last week. But I don’t know where it’s up to now. I’m just going to turn up with my gear and when they say to go out, I’ll go out.”
Because Bostrom is entered as part of Kawasaki’s World Superbike effort, he’s not a wild card, and therefore theoretically exempt. “I heard that I was kind of exempt, but then I heard maybe not,” Bostrom said. Mladin said that Bostrom should be able to do every WSB practice and qualifying session.
1. Eric Bostrom (1:25.716)
2. Nicky Hayden (1:26.320)
3. Aaron Yates (1:26.524)
4. Mat Mladin (1:26.553)
5. Kurtis Roberts (1:26.756)
6. Jamie Hacking (1:26.843)
7. Miguel DuHamel (1:26.952)
8. Doug Chandler (1:27.120)
9. Anthony Gobert (1:27.154)
10. Pascal Picotte (1:28.877)