Fong, Solis edge Zemke out of top qualifying spot
FONTANA, Calif. -- The GEICO Motorcycle Superbike Shootout kicked off with GEICO Motorcycle Honda SportBike rider Jake Zemke (above) positioning himself to take home his first win of the season Sunday at the Yamaha SoCal Nationals at Auto Club Speedway. Zemke, who barely had any track time in Saturday's practice, battled for the No. 1 spot throughout the entire qualifying session. In the end, he was edged out of the top spot by Bobby Fong and Benny Solis, dropping him to No. 3 with a lap of 1:29.083.
"Qualifying today was definitely a marked improvement for us compared to Daytona," Zemke said. "We ended up third, which is obviously much better compared to our effort at the first race of the season.
"Saturday morning I basically didn't get any practice time because we had some issues that needed to be taken care of. The boys worked hard to get the bike running for qualifying and we've been pretty good since then. Now we will make a couple of adjustments and get ready to race Sunday."
Fellow GEICO Motorcycle rider Chris Ulrich also battled issues early on Saturday with his Honda American SuperBike. After various changes throughout the entire qualifying session, he rallied to a 1:27.969 final lap, placing him in the No. 8 starting position.
"It was a productive qualifying session for us," Ulrich said. "We made a couple of changes to the bike and were able to run our fastest lap on the last lap of the session. I'm happy with the progress we made, but I'm not happy with the overall position.
"In these short weekends you have a very small amount of time to get everything going. With it being the first time here with this bike and development of the bike still going on, it's safe to say we're a little behind the curve.
"But we're not worried about that. We'll think about a few things over night, and come race day we will be alright. We'll push hard in the warm-up and then continue to push hard throughout the race."
Zemke and Ulrich will battle it out Sunday for the win in their respective classes. The day starts off early with practice leading up to the 1:30 p.m. PT Superbike Shootout Dynojet Pro SportBike race, followed by the Superbike Shootout Pro SuperBike race at 3:30 p.m.