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Birmingham: Round two doubleheader preview

MLADIN LOOKS TO BUILD ON WINNING STREAK AT BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 17, 2006) -- Defending AMA Superbike Champion Mat Mladin comes to the Honda Superbike Classic doubleheader, at Barber Motorsports Park on April 21-23,...

MLADIN LOOKS TO BUILD ON WINNING STREAK AT BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 17, 2006) -- Defending AMA Superbike Champion Mat Mladin comes to the Honda Superbike Classic doubleheader, at Barber Motorsports Park on April 21-23, looking to extend his three-race winning streak at the scenic Birmingham, Alabama circuit. Mladin leads the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited point standings after coming out on top in a thrilling battle with Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Ben Spies in the series opener at Daytona International Speedway last month.

Mladin easily swept both legs of the Barber doubleheader last year after starting from the pole. It was perhaps the Australian's most dominating performance of his stellar 2005 season. If the memory of last year's performance weren't enough for his competitors, Mladin clocked the fastest lap time riding under the existing track record in testing at Barber a few weeks ago.

"We've been pretty strong at Barber," Mladin said understatedly. "It's always a good thing to come to a track that places a premium on a rider's skill and a properly set-up motorcycle versus some tracks where all you have to do is to be able to draft to stay in a race."

While Mladin might be the favorite to repeat his sweep at Barber this year, at least one rider came away from Daytona with newfound confidence that he could run with the champ and that is teammate Ben Spies. Spies ran dead even with Mladin at Daytona before Mladin pulled off a brilliant last-lap maneuver to put him in a position to draft past Spies before the finish line.

"No one likes to lose a race, but at least I came away from Daytona knowing that I can hang with Mat on the same bike," said Spies, who is second in the standings. "My bike worked really good in the infield at Daytona, so hopefully that's a sign for the rest of the season. Mat's definitely the man to beat and I'm doing everything I can to get up there and match his speed."

The third member of the Yoshimura Suzuki squad is Aaron Yates. Yates is very familiar with Barber Motorsports Park, having provided input on the design off the track. He's also a former winner of the race and is hoping to continue a strong return after suffering a pre-season testing crash and injuring his shoulder.

Honda has renewed hope of reestablishing its team as an AMA Superbike contender this season after a sub-par 2005. Direct help from HRC in Japan combined with the experience American Honda gained by building its own CBR1000RR race bike last year have made the superbikes ridden by Miguel Duhamel and Jake Zemke very competitive. Duhamel finished third in the Daytona Superbike race and at Barber he hopes to earn his first AMA Superbike victory since 2004.

Ducati's Neil Hodgson comes into the Barber doubleheader ranked fourth in the standings. The British rider led early in the Sunday leg of last year's doubleheader. With a season of AMA experience under his belt Hodgson is expected to be a more consistent challenger this season. Hodgson's teammate Ben Bostrom joins Mladin and Duhamel as the only former AMA Superbike champions in the field.

Kawasaki fans will finally get to see their beloved factory green machines at Barber for the first time. Brothers Tommy and Roger Lee Hayden are continuing to perfect the factory Kawasaki ZX-10RRs. It will be interesting to see how the newest of the factory superbikes handle on the technical 2.26, 16-turn Barber circuit.

Jordan Suzuki's Jason Pridmore returns to Barber this year fully recovered from the serious injuries he suffered in a crash there last year. Pridmore and his teammates Jake Holden and Steve Rapp are expected to challenge the full-factory riders at Barber.

To obtain tickets for the Honda Superbike Classic call 800-240-2300 or visit the website www.barbermotorsports.com.

Saturday's Superbike race will be televised nationally on SPEED beginning at 4 p.m. EST on Sunday, April 23, followed by coverage of Sunday's Superbike final at 5 p.m.

-ama-

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About this article
Series AMA
Drivers Steve Rapp , Aaron Yates , Neil Hodgson , Jake Zemke , Ben Spies , Jason Pridmore , Jake Holden , Ben Bostrom