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Laguna Seca preview

Chevy Trucks U.S., World Superbike Championships Converge On Laguna Seca PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The Honda International Superbike Classic hosted by Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca is the biggest weekend of motorcycle road racing in America. Last...

Chevy Trucks U.S., World Superbike Championships Converge On Laguna Seca

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The Honda International Superbike Classic hosted by Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca is the biggest weekend of motorcycle road racing in America. Last year the event drew a record crowd of nearly 90,000 making it the best-attended motorcycle racing event in the country. This year's event, set for July 5-8, is even more highly anticipated. The weekend of racing combines a full AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship event with two rounds of the Word Superbike Championships.

Laguna Seca is a favorite of many of the World Superbike and AMA Superbike competitors. Anthony Gobert, past winner of both races echoes what many think of the 2.238 mile, 11-turn circuit. "The track's layout really suits me. I'm a little bit biased because I'm from Australia and I love the Phillip Island circuit, but I think the layout at Laguna is the best in the world."

In the Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship, Australian Mat Mladin is having another stellar season. The two-time AMA U.S. Superbike champ has won three of the seven rounds on his Yoshimura Suzuki and leads the series by 30 points over factory Kawasaki rider Eric Bostrom. Honda's Nicky Hayden and Kawasaki veteran Doug Chandler are tied for third in the standings.

The Superbike Classic weekend at Laguna Seca kicks off on Thursday, July 5. The first day of action will feature qualifying for the Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbikes. Mladin has been perfect in qualifying so far this year winning the pole and setting new track records at the five previous venues.

Racing begins on Friday with the Pro Honda Oils 600 SuperSport and Buell Pro Thunder finals; and as usual the 600 SuperSport class has been one of the most competitive. There have been five different winners in five races. Eric Bostrom, who rides a factory Kawasaki ZX6R, holds a narrow lead over Yamaha's Anthony Gobert and Honda's Miguel Duhamel coming into Laguna Seca. Yamaha riders have won the 600 SuperSport race at Laguna Seca three years in a row and four former winners of the race, Tommy Hayden, Jamie Hacking, Aaron Yates and Miguel Duhamel, will line up for Friday's race.

The Pro Thunder riders will arrive at Laguna just a few days after a race in Portland, Ore., Floridian Mike Ciccotto, on a factory-backed Buell, leads Northern California's Ducati rider Thomas Montano heading into the Portland race. Three different brands of motorcycle have won the Laguna Seca Pro Thunder race in the past three years.

Saturday is an action-packed day starting with round eight of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championships. Mladin is still shooting for his first victory at Laguna Seca and there will be five former winners in the field. Nicky Hayden, Anthony Gobert, Miguel Duhamel, Doug Chandler and Pascal Picotte have all logged AMA Superbike victories at Laguna Seca with Hayden the defending winner.

The Lockhart-Phillips USA Formula Xtreme race is up next and yet another Australian, Damon Buckmaster, leads the championship on his Gravesport Yamaha R1. Hondas have won every previous Formula Xtreme race at Laguna Seca, but that streak is in danger of coming to an end with strong showings by Yamaha and Suzuki in the series this year.

Saturday's other major on-track action will be the World Superbike Superpole qyalifying session. Superpole has been incredibly competitive this year with six different riders winning. Only Troy Corser and Neil Hodgson have been able to win the Superpole more than once. Corser won the Superpole at Laguna Seca last year on his Aprilia.

Sunday will see the running of both rounds of the World Superbike Series and the MBNA 250 Grand Prix and Genuine Suzuki Accessories 750 SuperSport finals.

Veteran racer Jimmy Filice, perhaps best known for his world championship win in the FIM 250 Grand Prix at Laguna Seca in 1988, has returned from retirement and is leading the MBNA 250 GP Series. Filice, at 38, shows no sign of slowing down. The same can be said of last year's 250 winner Rich Oliver, who is Filice's biggest rival. Oliver, 39, has had some rough luck this season, but still holds third in the series and hopes to gain on Filice with a fifth 250 GP win at Laguna.

After years in the 750 SuperSport Series Jimmy Moore earned his first victory earlier this season and is leading the championship. On the World Superbike side, defending champion Colin Edwards, of Conroe, Texas, is having to work very hard in his quest to win a second title. Troy Bayliss, of Australia, leads the championship on his Infostrada Ducati, but Edwards will try to close the gap on his No. 1 Castrol Honda during the two Laguna Seca rounds. Troy Corser, the 1994 AMA Superbike champ, also from Australia, is third in the series. Ben Bostrom, of Temecula, Calif., comes to Laguna Seca with momentum on his side. The L&M Ducati rider won the last race held in Misano, Italy and put in a strong showing during last year's Laguna Seca event.

Noriyuki Haga and Troy Corser split wins at Laguna Seca last year. Corser, who has three previous World Superbike wins at Laguna, has to be considered a favorite, but American fans will be pulling for Ben Bostrom, winner of a U.S. round in 1999, and Colin Edwards, the Texan who has yet to win at Laguna Seca.

There will also be some added excitement for U.S. fans who will get their first glimpse at Benelli's new Tornado Superbike with Peter Goddard at the controls. This marks the U.S. racing debut of the new offering from Benelli, which made its first ever appearance at Misano. For immediate post-race results, rider information, log onto www.amaproracing.com. Fans now can watch each qualifying and race session happen with amaproracing.com's popular new @the WireLIVE! transponder scoring feature.

-AMA-

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Series AMA
Drivers Anthony Gobert , Nicky Hayden , Miguel Duhamel , Tommy Hayden , Troy Bayliss , Colin Edwards , Jamie Hacking , Doug Chandler , Aaron Yates , Eric Bostrom , Noriyuki Haga , Neil Hodgson , Peter Goddard , Damon Buckmaster , Troy Corser , Thomas Montano , Ben Bostrom , Phillip Island