The group of non-flat trackers scheduled to compete in the upcoming Superprestigio of the Americas debut event in Las Vegas this weekend got a break when a practice session was organized at the brand new dirt oval.
With the arena’s track preparation complete and the Airfence in place, these competitors got a couple of hours of surface testing and practice on Thursday evening, November 19 at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas.
On Friday evening, November 20, the 13th and deciding round of the 2015 American Flat Track Championship takes place at the same venue, while the next night features the inaugural Yamaha-sponsored Superprestigio of The Americas.
Both events take place on a custom built, indoor hockey rink-sized (about .10 of a mile in length) track at the Orleans Hotel and Casino.
Most of the top flat trackers watched from the sidelines, including Canuck Doug Lawrence, the winner of last summer’s inaugural Kawasaki Ninja 300 spec series during the Mopar CSBK round at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Overall, the non-oval based group showed well, and demonstrated that the surface should be good for competition. Track designer and Flat Track legend Chris Carr made big efforts to ensure that passing was possible, and the initial, non-competition outing on the Orleans oval showed promise.
Maybe the fastest, unofficially, of the Pros to try the track was Larry Pegram on the Foremost Insurance Honda single. Out of work since the works Buell team dropped out of World Superbike early in 2015 due to issues with the parent company, former flat track star Pegram was in confident form.
Attracting the most attention was a charging Roger Lee Hayden aboard the Yoshimura Suzuki RMZ450, with most of the riders trying to follow every time Hayden took to the course for one of the many brief sessions. Back in 2002, Hayden and his two brothers, Tommy and Nicky, swept the AMA Pro National Short Track podium in Springfield, Ill.
Multi-time Moto America/AMA Pro Superbike Champ Josh Hayes was one of many Yamaha-backed road racers who also showed decent speed on the short oval.
Top European was MotoGP ace and 2012 Moto2 World Champ Toni Elias of Spain, 32. A veteran of the Spanish Superprestigio that started the us vs them flat track spectacular craze, Elias looked quick and fairly consistent, shaking of a couple of minor tumbles on the stop-and-go layout.
“Sure, I’m impressed with the track,” explained Lawrence during the sessions. “They seem to have really done a good job preparing the surface – it has plenty of moisture, and that should help over a night.”
“They’re trying to make it so you can pass, race each other. I don’t know if what we watched tonight will be what we see in the races tomorrow night, but right now those guys know more than we do.”