The very first practice session of the AMA Superbike Championship ended the way so many did last year - with defending champion Josh Hayes at the top of the standings.
The Yamaha rider turned in the fastest lap time of the pack at Daytona ahead of the first race of the season, coming in at 1:38.385. That was enough to beat the second-fastest rider, Blake Young of Suzuki.
Hayes won the title last year and says that his bike is better than ever for the new season. He and his teammate Josh Herrin both hit trap speeds of higher than 200 miles per hour on the new Yamaha R1.
"I'm really happy," he told Cycle News. "The Monster Energy Graves Yamaha crew has obviously done a lot of good work. We find ourselves a lot further up in the last segment, in the trap speeds. I've worked pretty hard in the off-season; I feel really good on the bike. I'm doing lots of laps. I'm comfortable. I'm having a lot of fun riding the motorcycle."
Hayes was able to ride in MotoGP toward the end of last season as a "thank you" from Yamaha for his championship run in AMA Superbike. There has been much speculation that the move to the top-tier series could one day be permanent, but for now Hayes says he's focusing on AMA.