Roberts on Provisional Front Row at Utah

NEWS August 2, 2013

Roberts on Provisional Front Row at Utah

Photo by Brian J Nelson

Courtesy of Team Hammer:

Tooele, Utah (August 3, 2013) - Team Hammer kicked off the Miller Motorsports Park round of the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing season with a promising, if dramatic, opening day performance at the high and hot mountain-ringed circuit.

California Superbike School Racing's Joe Roberts came into his third and final AMA Pro event of the season with high hopes of completing a perfect debut season in the SuperSport class. The 16-year old has won every race he's entered in AMA Pro competition to date and is gunning for his fourth and fifth wins in as many attempts this weekend at MMP.

Roberts demonstrated his rare skills again on Friday. He made a miracle save of his CBR600RR early in the SuperSport free practice session, somehow staying upright after clipping a curb and running over his right foot while putting in just his second lap of the day.

After icing down his ankle and knee, Roberts returned to close the gap on first position by more than half-a-second in qualifying. He rounded out the day on the provisional front row in fourth at 1:57.586, just 0.397-seconds removed from provisional pole.

Explaining what happened during his near-fall, Roberts said "I went into Turn Two not realizing how tall the curbs were. I turned it in a little early and hit the front wheel on one of the high curbs and it just kind of threw me into a 'times five tankslapper.' It flew my legs off and I ran my foot over. My foot and my knee aren't in the best shape right now, but I'll be all right for tomorrow and the times should be faster in the morning. It's going OK, but I'd still like to be on pole."

GEICO Road Racing Honda's Dane Westby and M4 Lucas Oil Racing's Benny Solis also registered top-10 provisional qualifying performances for Team Hammer on Friday, in the Daytona SportBike class. Westby stopped the clocks at 1:56.107 to rank seventh provisionally, while Solis ended the day in 10th at 1:57.701.

MPH Racing's Melissa Paris also put in a very strong effort, posting the 14th best time in the hotly-contested SportBike class with a fast lap of 1:58.701 on her Team Hammer Contract Services-prepared Honda CBR600RR.

M4 Lucas Oil Racing's Chris Ulrich enjoyed a similarly encouraging opening day. The Californian came away from the Friday sessions upbeat, understanding that he made further progress with his Superbike-spec Honda CBR1000RR and is well positioned to move up the charts as the weekend develops.

Despite not making a concerted effort to post a flying lap to maximize his provisional qualifying ranking, Ulrich finished out the day in 14th with a best time of 1:55.139.

He said, "I think we made some progress with the bike. We changed our approach a little bit on the setting. We're working towards a little bit softer setting to get some traction to the bike and we also benefitted from some mapping that we did on the electronics following the Laguna Seca round; that really helped improve some on/off throttle issues we were having and a few other things. Obviously, the engine braking situation isn't as ideal as we need it to be but we're making progress in a lot of other areas now.

"I think at the last few races I was wondering how I could go any faster. Today I know how and we'll look to improve throughout the weekend. If I would have put a tire on at the end of that session, we could have jumped three or four spots. I'm very much looking forward to tomorrow- -more so than I have in some time. This was one of the better Fridays we've had."

On Saturday, Roberts, Westby, Solis, Paris and Ulrich will lock down their final grid positions in the morning before shifting their focus to Saturday afternoon's SuperSport, SportBike, and Superbike races.

About Team Hammer: In 2013, Team Hammer, Inc. is competing in its 33rd consecutive racing season, and is marking its seventh year of offering technical and logistical support through its Contract Services Department. Riders on Team Hammer-prepared racebikes have earned 57 AMA Pro National race wins; 133 AMA Pro National podium finishes; 5 AMA Pro Championships; 133 Overall National Endurance race wins; 13 National Endurance Championships and assorted other race wins and titles.

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