AMA

Mid-Ohio II: Season finale preview

CHAMPIONSHIP TO BE DECIDED AT MID-OHIO'S AMA SUPERBIKE SHOOTOUT PICKERINGTON, Ohio (September 22, 2006) -- After seven months, 18 rounds, and hundreds of miles of some of the most intense motorcycle racing in the world the 2006 AMA Superbike ...

CHAMPIONSHIP TO BE DECIDED AT MID-OHIO'S AMA SUPERBIKE SHOOTOUT

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (September 22, 2006) -- After seven months, 18 rounds, and hundreds of miles of some of the most intense motorcycle racing in the world the 2006 AMA Superbike Championship will be decided on Sept. 29 -- Oct. 1 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, at the AMA Superbike Shootout.

The season finale will mark the final showdown between Yoshimura Suzuki teammates Ben Spies and Mat Mladin. Spies, a second-year Superbike rider from Longview, Texas, is trying to unseat Australian Mladin, the most dominant rider in the history of the series and the winner of six of the last seven AMA Superbike Championships.

Spies leads Mladin by 20 points coming into Mid-Ohio. The young Texan needs to finish 13th or better to win the title. While that seems like a simple task for Spies, who has finished no worse than fourth all season, this event will throw a twist into the title chase.

Mid-Ohio will run under a unique format featuring heat races and a Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) in place of timed qualifying. Only the top 20 riders will make the main, approximately half of the riders in a normal AMA Superbike race. Superbike riders who do not make the main are eligible to take part in a consolation race, all sponsored by Dunlop Tire.

Spies will have to navigate an unfamiliar race format in his path to a potential championship. In addition he is still recovering from a broken hand suffered at Virginia International Raceway in mid-August.

For many racers who have been in a similar position as Spies, they've said they'd almost rather have to race like they normally do than to have to protect a lead, but Spies feels comfortable running out front.

"I think I'd rather have a 20-point lead than have to go race hard," Spies said after the last round at Road Atlanta. "Road Atlanta went exactly the way I wanted to. We got the extra point that we could [for the pole], got a couple of second-place finishes, and now we can go to Ohio. If everything works good, obviously, it was a comfortable track for us the last time we were there. So go there, ride around and try to seal this thing."

Spies swept the Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire at Mid-Ohio in early August.

The simple fact that Mladin is still in the championship picture is a testimony to the six-time champ's competitive drive. Mladin made the most of the opportunity given to him when Spies broke his hand by winning the last four races. Still Mladin is sportsmanlike when reviewing the season.

"Six championships and 50 wins and 50 pole positions - if I decided to stop after Ohio, I'd have to be pretty happy with my career," Mladin said. "But this year, I've been getting a kick in the pants for most of the year from Ben. It's certainly lit the fire under me. I'm looking forward to the off-season, looking forward to getting on the new bike, and I'm going to come back next year, and somehow I don't think he's going to have it so easy. We'll go to Mid-Ohio and try to win another race and just continue on and come back next year."

Since only three riders, Spies, Mladin and Honda's Jake Zemke, have won a round this year, Mid-Ohio will be the last opportunity for the other riders to earn a victory. Most likely to go out with a bang are Honda's Miguel Duhamel and Yoshimura Suzuki's Aaron Yates. Duhamel has been close much of the season, but has managed a best of a runner-up finish so far.

It will be an emotional weekend for Yates. After 11 years with Yoshimura Suzuki, this will be the Georgian's final ride with the squad. He would love nothing better than to go out with a win to show that he still has what it takes to win Superbike races. Both Yates and Duhamel are former Mid-Ohio winners.

Mid-Ohio will also mark the swan song for Ducati in AMA Superbike racing, at least for awhile. Neil Hodgson and Ben Bostrom will race the final race for Ducati in America and while improbable, it would be a storybook ending for the team to go out with a win.

This marks the first time that the AMA Superbike Championship has ended at Mid-Ohio. It's an appropriate ending point for the series, as the AMA is headquartered in nearby Pickerington, Ohio. The unique format for the race is a nod to the traditional way of determining the final starting grid and it's creating a lot of anticipation from fans and riders alike. In addition to earning their share of the event purse money, the top 20 riders are also eligible for a piece of the yearly $120,000 Championship Bonus fund. The bonus fund is divided into three separate payouts so riders in the top 20 from points accumulated at the last four rounds will share a $40,000 payday.

Mid-Ohio's AMA Superbike Shootout is part of an action-packed week of racing that will also feature the AMA Sports Road Race Grand Championships and the inaugural AMA Motocross Manufacturers Cup on September 22-24.

During the AMA Superbike Shootout fans will have several fun options. Buell will be on hand in the Upper Paddock Saturday and Sunday to give fans demo rides of their latest models. This interactive showroom is open to anyone sixteen years or older. Show your AMA membership card to registrants in the infield on Saturday, Sept. 30 and take part in a lunchtime lap of Mid-Ohio on your motorcycle. Participants must register and sign a waiver by 11:00 a.m. to participate. The tradition continues on Saturday night, Sept. 30 when "Hoot" will be shown for free on a two-story inflatable screen near the spectator amphitheater in the esses.

The season finale will receive same-day national television coverage on SPEED at 6:00 p.m. eastern.

Tickets for the AMA Superbike Shootout are available now by calling 1-800-MID-OHIO or logging on to www.midohio.com.

WHAT: The AMA Superbike Shootout, the final round of the 2006 AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited.

WHERE: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Take I-71 north from Columbus to St.Rt. 95 east. Turn right off the ramp and follow St. Rt. 95 for 2 miles and turn left (north) on St.Rt. 314 for 15 miles. Turn right on Steam Corners Rd. Mid-Ohio is one mile on the left.

WHEN: Sept. 29 -- Oct. 1, 2006.

COURSE: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course's 2.4-mile, 15-turn circuit.

SCHEDULE: Friday, Sept. 29 -- Practice begins 8:30 a.m., qualifying at 2:00 p.m..; Saturday, Sept. 30 -- Practice begin at 8:30 a.m., Superbike heat races at 3:25 p.m., Formula Xtreme final at 4:40 p.m.. AMA Superbike LCQ at 5:20 p.m..; Sunday, Oct. 1 - Practice begins at 9:00 a.m., Superstock final at 11:00 a.m., Supersport final at 1:45 p.m., Superbike race at 3:00 p.m., Superbike consolation at 4:15 p.m.

TICKETS: A Super Ticket ($55) includes weekend general admission, paddock pass, and a weekend grandstand seat. General admission -- weekend $45. Infield parking $15. Tent camping $30. Motorhome camping $50.

-credit: ama

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About this article
Series AMA
Drivers Miguel Duhamel , Aaron Yates , Neil Hodgson , Jake Zemke , Ben Spies , Ben Bostrom