PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- When Mauro Cereda finished ninth in this year's Daytona 200 by Arai, even the most knowledgeable racing fans were left scratching their heads trying to figure out just who was this guy who could finish top-10 in this...
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- When Mauro Cereda finished ninth in this year's Daytona 200 by Arai, even the most knowledgeable racing fans were left scratching their heads trying to figure out just who was this guy who could finish top-10 in this country's most esteemed road race on a nearly stock Suzuki. It was easy to understand why Cereda wasn't well known. The Daytona 200 marked his AMA professional racing debut.
After a season of impressive finishes in the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championships, Cereda earned the 2001 AMA Superbike Rookie of the Year Award.
Cereda, 30, a native-born Italian who now lives in Sarasota, Fla., followed up his impressive Daytona debut with a strong season of consistent points-paying finishes in the Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship. In fact, Cereda scored points in all but one race this season, finishing the season ranked 17th. He failed to score in the wet Sunday race at Road America in Elkhart Lake in June when he suffered his only crash of the season. He was second ranked among non-factory supported riders in the championships.
"When I started to road race here in America I fell in love with the sport," said Cereda in his Italian accent. "I give everything to race. When I first saw Daytona as a fan I thought it was crazy the speeds were so great. Then I raced there and finished ninth and it was like a dream come true."
A privateer who hauls his own bike to the races, Cereda hopes to continue his career next season, possibly in the Genuine Suzuki Accessories 750 SuperSport Series. He and his wife Monica are working hard to find sponsorship for next season.
Cereda grew up racing motocross in Italy. Nine years ago he moved to America to work as a professional chef. In 1997 he bought his first street bike and became friends with fellow motorcyclists who raced club events in Southern Florida.
"I went to watch a race at Homestead and I thought it was fantastic," said Cereda. "It was funny that I grew up in Italy and only cared about motocross. After I got into road racing here in America I studied everything about the sport. I went back to Italy and watched a Grand Prix and became a big fan at the same time I became a racer."
Cereda is the 19th AMA Superbike Rookie of the Year. Doug Chandler, Randy Renfrow, Scott Russell, Miguel Duhamel and Chris Carr are just a few of the notable former winners.
Cereda will receive his award at the AMA Pro Racing Champions Awards Banquet, Dec. 7, at the Desert Springs Marriott Resort & Spa in Palm Springs, Calif.
-AMA Pro Racing-