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Pikes Peak 2004




  Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki got up to speed quickly at Pikes Peak International Raceway in the opening day of the fifth round of the 2004 AMA roadracing series. It was necessary to do so, as this weekend's event follows a two-day format as opposed to the typical three-day schedule for most AMA events.

The compacted schedule meant that the squad had to be fully dialed-in for an afternoon full of final qualifying sessions in preparation of Sunday's races.

Fresh off his Formula Xtreme pole position at Barber Motorsports Park, Vincent Haskovec put in another front-row qualifying effort this weekend. His time of 56.053 seconds around the tight 1.3-mile circuit aboard his GSX-R600 was good enough to take the fourth position on the grid.

Steve Rapp continued his strong Barber form aboard his Michelin-shod GSX-R600 as well. The Californian was fourth fastest in the morning Supersport free practice and qualified as the top Suzuki-mounted rider in class with a 56.172 second lap, good for sixth.

His young teammate Chris Peris claimed a second row grid position, out-qualifying a factory Suzuki entry. The Canadian posted a time of 56.521 seconds to take eighth on the grid.

In Superstock, Rapp and Haskovec qualified their GSX-R750s alongside each other on the outside of the third row. Rapp was eleventh fastest (56.222) while Haskovec was twelfth (56.305). However, their smaller displacement machines are expected to perform better under racing conditions in the 28-lap final around the tire-eating raceway.

At the end of the day Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki Crew Chief Keith Perry said, "It wasn't a bad day, but it could have been better. After running so well last week, we don’t feel all that good about our results today. There were some bright spots but we feel we should be even higher up than we are.

"In Formula Xtreme, clearly we need to find a little more power," he continued. "We've been pushing the development along on that bike, but we're still waiting on a few parts.

"I'm pretty positive about Supersport. I think we can run both our riders up with the lead guys," Perry said.

"In Superstock, we struggled a little with the 750 at a track we thought it would be better at. The 1000s did a little better here than we thought, but our tire situation is looking good, and we usually shine a little brighter in the races than in qualifying. We did all of our laps on race tires while many others relied on qualifiers to set their best times."

More, from a press release issued by Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki:

Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki finished up their Pikes Peak International Raceway weekend by picking up three top ten finishes on Sunday.

Vincent Haskovec took the team's highest-placing finish on the day, piloting his Suzuki GSX-R600 Formula Xtreme racer to a fine fourth place. The Czech Republic-born rider held down a podium position for much of the race, but eventually just lost out on the battle for third.

Overall, he was pleased with the effort. "Not so bad," said Haskovec who is currently fifth in the FX title race. "We tried many different tires throughout the weekend and went with best we had. I tried to hang with the guys up front -- we were a little bit down in a couple of places, but overall we were quite good. I thought I was going to be able to hold down third place, but ten laps from the end we started to struggle a little getting a good drive out of corners. I went around the outside of a lapper and went a little wide; I had to open it up more than usual and I went sideways. Having to correct that opened the door, and I wasn't able to get back up into third."

Looking forward to the Road America round in two weeks, he commented, "We should be getting more horsepower from the bike as we continue to develop the machine. It will be really interesting to see how we do then."

Steve Rapp had a successful day on his Michelin-shod GSX-R600 as well. For the second consecutive week, the Californian ranked as the top Suzuki rider in the highly-competitive Supersport class. He claimed sixth place after coming out on top of a four-man scrap for the position.

"Supersport was good again," Rapp said. "We've been quite competitive the past two races, battling with the factory riders."

Third Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki rider Chris Peris finished 14th in the 29-lap Supersport race.

The team had a less fortunate day with their GSX-R750s in Superstock. Rapp ran impressively in the middle stages of the race up against the powerful 1000s; he ranked as high as the top five and as the top Suzuki rider but faded late to finish in eighth. Haskovec took 14th.

"It looked like we had fifth place well in hand. Even though we hadn't qualified as well as I hoped we would have, the race was going our way. I was comfortable running the pace it took to get up to fifth spot," said Rapp, who is now seventh in the championship standings in both Supersport and Superstock. "But we had a tire issue and I couldn't maintain it. We had to nurse it home from there just to make sure we got as many points as possible."