Braselton, Ga. (April 20, 2012) – The opening day of the Triumph Big Kahuna Atlanta presented by Dunlop Tire and LeoVince saw the young riders of RoadRace Factory/Red Bull jump back into the AMA Pro Racing fray after last month’s Daytona debut. Each of the riders pushed to set fast times in preparation for the two Daytona SportBike and SuperSport contests this weekend.
Jake Gagne qualified ninth provisionally with a time of 1:30.493. The Californian, in his first visit to Road Atlanta since he won the Red Bull AMA US Rookies Cup race in 2008, worked hard as he continues to adjust to racing a Daytona SportBike-spec Yamaha R6 after racing in Europe. “It was decent. Qualifying was all right but we never got a flyer in there with some traffic issues,” said Gagne. “It has potential. I’m pretty happy but we’re hoping the weather is good on Saturday and I can gain a few spots for the race. It’s close up there, so I’m always trying to go faster. The R6 is a lot different than the Moto2 bike I rode last year and the tires are different, but I have had enough time on it to get acquainted with it.”
J.D. Beach suffered a small crash on Friday and was still looking to find the quick pace after his lap of 1:31.437 earned him 13th in provisional qualifying. “It hasn’t been the greatest and I crashed in the last session,” said Beach. “I feel good, but I’ve done fast laps here and I know what it feels like. We’ll keep working and hopefully it will go our way.”
In SuperSport, Hayden Gillim put his machine on the provisional front row with a lap of 1:31.646. Gillim was pleased to return to Road Atlanta, a track he’s raced several times and one that allows him to use his physicality on the bike.
Tomas Puerta was 7th out of 41 riders entered. Tomy’s time of 1:31.646 was impressive but put him just short of his goal of a front-row start. He will try to rectify that in Saturday morning’s final qualifying session.
“We’re probably getting ahead of ourselves, but we’re pushing it,” said RoadRace Factory/Red Bull’s Danny Walker. “J.D. was making some big gains when he tucked the front and had a little tipover. We had a little mechanical issue on Jake’s bike. We’re starting to push the edges already. Before I’ve talked about how I wanted to see us take our time to get to where we need to be as a brand-new team. We’re in a hurry to be competitive.”
“In SuperSport, Hayden was on the front row but he’s not happy with fourth,” continued Walker. “The biggest thing with Tomas is getting his confidence back and he’s working hard. All in all, not a bad day.”