M4 Suzuki’s Dane “The Wolverine” Westby came out of the gates in convincing fashion at Road America on Friday to open Round 5 of the 2012 AMA Pro Road Racing Championships.
Westby immediately featured near the top of the charts in the opening Daytona SportBike practice session aboard his #5 GSX-R600. The Oklahoman was fastest for a spell in the practice and ultimately finished the session third-fastest with an impressive time of 2:21.923 despite the cool and somewhat windy conditions at the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin racetrack on Friday.
Westby stepped up from there in the afternoon’s subsequent qualifying session, throwing down a 2:20.852 to stand fifth in the provisional order at the end of the day.
Westby, who finished on the podium at Road America last season, said, “Things are going well. I went faster than I’ve ever gone here before, which is a good sign on the first day. In qualifying, I was able to set a pretty decent time although I think there’s more there to be had. I will be able to better utilize a softer tire tomorrow and I know I’ll be there in the race.”
SuzukiScoopFans SportbikeTrackGear.com Suzuki’s Elena Myers also shined during last season’s stop at Elkhart Lake, leading several laps of the second SuperSport race and missing a podium of her own by just fractions of a second. Myers was in the top five in both SuperSport sessions on Friday, ranking fifth in the free practice and in the first of two qualifying sessions. Myers was nearly two seconds quicker in qualifying than in practice, improving from 2:25.540 to 2:23.818.
It was a similar story for M4 Suzuki’s Chris Ulrich. While his position didn’t change from practice to qualifying (15th), the AMA Pro Superbike pilot made a marked improvement in lap times, slicing his 2:18.652 down to a 2:16.623.
Team Venezuela’s Robertino Pietri suffered a tough blow on Friday. The former Moto2 pilot impressed with the seventh-fastest time in the Superbike free session (2:16.183), but crashed in qualifying, bringing out a red flag. He ended the day in 13th at 2:15.812, but more pressing was his condition following the crash. The Venezuelan crashed in Turn 3 and suffered broken ribs in the fall.
Team Hammer riders will be back in action on Saturday at Road America to claim final grid positions and contest the weekend’s opening SportBike, SuperSport, and Superbike races.
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. The team has earned 50 AMA Pro National race wins; 116 AMA Pro National podium finishes; 4 AMA Pro Championships; 133 Overall National Endurance race wins; 13 National Endurance Championships and assorted other race wins and titles.