M4 Suzuki’s Dane Westby set a scorching pace aboard his Suzuki GSX-R600 to lead the way in the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike class in the Alabama heat on Friday at Barber Motorsports Park.
Westby opened the Birmingham weekend by topping the SportBike free practice and then backed up that extraordinary effort by securing provisional pole during the day’s qualifying session.
The Oklahoman actually registered the four fastest times in FP1, headlined by a 1:28.791, and then lowered his mark to 1:28.113 to own the #1 spot on the leaderboard in QP1.
‘The Wolverine’ is determined to hold the position through Saturday morning’s QP1 as he seeks his first-career AMA Pro pole position.
“Getting pole would be a momentous occasion for me,” Westby stated. “It was a good lap. We tried doing it with a medium rear and didn’t quite make it happen; did a bunch of ’29.5s in a row. I think that’s pretty much what the race pace is going to be. But we threw that soft rear on there like we did in the first practice and were able to pull out that extra second. Actually, I think it was like a second-and-a-half. There was a lot of time in that soft tire. It felt good.”
Despite his impressive third-place ranking in the SportBike title fight, Westby has been working hard to up his game, particularly to improve his starts and corner exits.
He explained, “I went to school last weekend and worked on leaning off more and getting on the meat of the tire out of the corner and that’s pretty much where I was lacking. I was missing these guys on the gas and they were getting away. I’m glad I was able to apply it here. I also spent a day working on my starts. I’m still not perfect but we’ll see on race day how it goes.”
M4 Suzuki’s Chris Ulrich enjoyed a solid opening to his BMP weekend in the premier AMA Pro Superbike class aboard his powerful GSX-R1000. The Californian was 10th in practice at 1:28.415 and 11th in qualifying at 1:27.890 in a pair of closely contested sessions.
Fellow Superbike pilot Robertino Pietri dropped his times aboard the Team Venezuela Suzuki GSX-R1000 from the low ’30s in practice to a 1:29.950 in qualifying to improve from 16th to 14th as the day progressed.
Meanwhile, Elena Myers ended the day ranked 10th in provisional AMA Pro SuperSport qualifying. The two-time SuperSport race winner posted a best lap of 1:31.935 on the Suzuki SportbikeTrackGear.com GSX-R600 in the blisteringly hot conditions.
Westby, Ulrich, Pietri, and Myers will claim their final grid positions on Saturday morning before turning their attention to the first races of the weekend on Saturday afternoon at Barber Motorsports Park.