TOPEKA, KS (August 16, 2008) -- Ty Howard of Weatherford, Texas set the fastest time in practice for the fifth round of the SunTrust MOTO-ST Series, the Level 5 Heartland 500 presented by Hooters at Heartland Park on Saturday.
Riding the No. 1 Aprilia USA/Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Aprilia Tuono 1000R, Howard turned a time of one minute, 41.530 seconds around the 2.5-mile circuit for an average speed of 88.644 miles per hour.
Boca Raton, Fla.'s Michael Barnes turned the second fastest time of 1:41.886 on the No. 83 Bruce Rossmeyer's Daytona Racing Buell 1125R ahead of teammate Shawn Higbee (Oconomowoc, Wis.), who recorded a 1:42.323.
Howard and teammate Mike Himmelsbach of Quakerstown, Penn. have won two of the first four races of the SunTrust MOTO-ST Series and the No. 1 Aprilia team comes into this weekend's race leading the Buell Motorcycle Company SuperSport Twins (SST) standings.
"Everything's good, the bike felt perfect right out of the box," Howard said. "We're just trying to get the tire situation figured out, get the tires to last a little longer and get the pressures consistent, and figure out the fuel mileage."
Howard raced at the Heartland Park Topeka circuit 10 years ago, he said.
"It's not quite the same, but for the most part it is," he said. "About 80 percent of it is the same."
Barnes was turning his first laps with the Bruce Rossmeyer's Daytona Racing team, and like Howard he has previous experience of the circuit.
"I think there's quite a bit more there, I'd really like a couple more days on it," Barnes said of the 1125R. "But to be out here and be this competitive already shows the bike has a lot of promise."
Fourth fastest in Saturday practice was the No. 75 Touring Sport Ducati 848 of Camarillo, Calif.'s Doug Polen, who turned a 1:42.497. He will share the bike with Clemson, S.C. racer Ryan Gordon.
The No. 75 Ducati won the previous round of the SunTrust MOTO-ST Series at Barber Motorsport Park and lies just seven points behind the No. 1 Aprilia team in the SST standings with three races remaining on the schedule.
Completing the top five overall and in SST was the No. 25 Team Hooters Aprilia Tuono 1000R of Benny Carlson (West Bend, Wis.), Andrew Deatherage (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Mike Luke (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.). Carlson turned a lap of 1:46.198.
Sixth fastest overall and quickest in the BMW GrandSport Twins (GST) class was the No. 69 RightsforBikers.com Ducati PS1000LE of Modesto, Calif.'s Justin Filice and Rodolfo Ramirez from Sunrise, Fla. Filice recorded a time of 1:47.293 (83.882 mph) for the team, which is in the thick of a tight battle for the GST Teams points lead.
"I really like this track, it's a high speed track and I think that's the kind of place I excel at," Filice said. "It's a lot of fun. We have no concerns. Rodolfo is getting his times down and we should have a pretty good race."
The No. 7 Richie Morris Racing Buell XB12R of Dan Bilansky (Waukesha, Wis.) and Clint Brotz (Elkhart, Wis.) was second in GST with a 1:47.633 from Bilansky, and the class leading No. 70 James Gang Racing/Hoban Brothers Buell XB12R was third fastest. Local ace Walt Sipp of Kansas City, Mo. turned a 1:47.633 on the No. 70 machine.
The No. 70 Buell comes to Heartland Park Topeka with a one-point lead over the No. 77 Touring Sport Ducati PS1000LE, which was fourth fastest in practice Saturday, with the No. 69 Ducati just four points further back.
The No. 66 M4 Avteq Racing Suzuki SV650 of Kyle Martin of Dallas led the Sport Twins (ST) class with a time of 1:48.260 (83.133 mph). Martin is scheduled to share the bike with fellow Dallas rider Ryan O'Donnell and Dane Westby of Tulsa, Okla.
"We're still on used tires. We want to save the new tires for qualifying tomorrow morning," Martin said. "Our guys practiced here all day yesterday and we're pretty comfortable with the track."
Second quickest in ST was Daytona Beach, Fla.'s Jimmy Filice with a time of 1:49.251 aboard the No. 9 Pair-A-Nines Kawasaki EX650 he shares with Jay Springsteen of Lapeer, Mich. The No. 9 Kawasaki team leads the No. 66 M4 Avteq Racing Suzuki squad by just two points in the ST Teams standings.
Third in class was the No. 42 Grease Monkey Racing Suzuki SV650 of Eric Helmbach (Califon, N.J.), Alex Shaw (Hackettstown, N.J.) and Eric Wilson (Flanders, N.J.). Shaw recorded a time of 1:49.454.
Qualifying for the Level 5 Heartland 500 presented by Hooters at Heartland Park Topeka gets underway at 8:45 a.m. on Sunday, with the race set to get the green flag at 4:00 p.m.
The SunTrust MOTO-ST Series is organized and sanctioned by Professional Motorsports Productions (PMP) of Toronto, Ontario, Canada and the Grand American Road Racing Association, based in Daytona Beach, Fla., provides the series with administrative and commercial support. Learn more about MOTO-ST at www.moto-st.com.