Most of the pre-race American Flat Track buzz has focused on the Indian vs. Harley-Davidson factory battle, but Briar Bauman said, “Not so fast.” The Zanotti Racing rider pushed his Kawasaki Ninja 650-based flat track machine to the top time in overall timed qualifying with a time of 30.568 seconds on the Daytona TT track.
Bauman accomplished the feat in spite of crashing twice during this afternoon’s sessions.
Bauman–supported by longtime racing insider Rod Lake–credited his bike for his unexpectedly strong qualifying performance.
“Dave Zanotti brought the best motorcycle is the reason I’m going so fast,” Bauman said. “The thing is working so well, it’s incredible. I threw two different bikes down today, just pushing the limits. We’ve got a bike where that is possible. I was able to get a couple of good laps and got the fastest time.”
Bauman crashed and broke his primary machine and is now racing his backup machine. He went out and crashed that too, giving his team plenty to work on.
“The crashes were so silly,” Bauman continued. “The first one I actually I did in the right-hander. First practice out, the jitterbugs, new leathers, brand new bike and I went out there and hit a cone and broke the bike. I felt so bad I didn’t want to come back into the pits.
“On the backup bike I went out and got a really good lap in and I thought I’d try for a little bit more. I basically got greedy going into turn one and tucked the front. It was a simple lowside. I think I have my braking markers down. I definitely found out how far I could go on that one. It’s so hard to be consistent on these things. I think if I can hit every mark like I want to I can get a little bit more out of it.”
Jared Mees was second fastest on the new Indian FTR750, followed by a surprising Donald Mullen II, riding a Kawasaki.
Defending series champ Bryan Smith was fourth on another factory Indian and last year’s rookie standout Jarod Vanderkooi rounded out the top five making for three Kawasakis amount the top qualifiers.
The factory Harley-Davidson XG750R machines were off the pace so far. Jake Johnson was the top qualifying Harley and he was 13th, about 9-10ths of a second off the top time. His Harley teammates Brandon Robinson and Kenny Coolbeth, Jr, were 15th and 16th respectively out of 35 entries.
AFT Timed Qualifying Combined Time (Top 10)
1 14 Briar Bauman Kawasaki Ninja 650 30.568
2 9 Jared Mees Indian Scout FTR750 30.736
3 71 Donald Mullen II Kawasaki Ninja 650 30.812
4 1 Bryan Smith Indian Scout FTR750 30.848
5 20 Jarod Vanderkooi Kawasaki Ninja 650 30.901
6 37 Bronson Bauman Kawasaki Ninja 650 31.070
7 27 Robert Pearson Kawasaki Ninja 650 31.118
8 54 Michael Rush Yamaha FZ07 31.151
9 17 Henry Wiles Kawasaki Ninja 650 31.175
10 62 Daniel Bromley Kawasaki Ninja 650 31.290