Duhamel Looks For Redemption At Mid-Ohio Superbike Doubleheader
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- 1995 AMA Superbike champion Miguel Duhamel almost had two wins in the bag at last year's AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Series doubleheader at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The operative word being 'almost'. Duhamel crashed out of both last year's Chevy Trucks Superbike races while leading. This weekend, July 20-22, Duhamel returns to Mid-Ohio seeking redemption after his often brilliant, but ultimately flawed performance of a year ago.
Duhamel, the all-time wins leader in AMA Superbike history with 23, comes to Mid-Ohio this year fifth in the series standings. The 34-year-old Montreal native who rides for Honda is not in serious contention for the title, but he still feels he has a good shot at winning some races this year. After a slow start this season Duhamel has come on strong with two runner-up finishes in the last three series rounds. At the last round in Monterey, Calif., Duhamel showed flashes of greatness by passing early leader Jamie Hacking and then holding off eventual winner Eric Bostrom for several exciting laps.
Mid-Ohio is a good track for Duhamel. He first won on the 2.4-mile circuit in 1995. That year his Mid-Ohio Superbike victory was the first of record six-straight AMA Superbike wins. He went on to claim the championship that season. Duhamel would love nothing better than to start another winning streak this weekend.
"I'm finally feeling totally 100 percent after battling injuries for the last three years," said Duhamel, an 11-year veteran of the series. "I've done well at Mid-Ohio before and there's no reason I shouldn't be able to be in the hunt for another win this year. I don't regret riding the way I rode there last year even though I crashed & 8211; that part I guess I do regret a little. But I'm not going to let that hold me back in the way I approach the race this year."
Defending two-time AMA Superbike champion Mat Mladin comes to Mid-Ohio with one goal in mind - winning. Mid-Ohio is one of the few circuits on which Mladin has not been victorious. He was runner-up to teammate Aaron Yates in the Sunday race last year and to Doug Chandler in 1999.
Mladin holds a 24-point lead over Kawasaki's Eric Bostrom coming into this weekend's doubleheader, although that lead has shrank over the last few rounds with Bostrom riding a two-race winning streak.
Bostrom, like Mladin, has never won a Superbike race at Mid-Ohio. His previous best result was third in Saturday's race last year. Bostrom, however, seems to be brimming with confidence after winning the last two races and having an excellent showing in the World Superbike round in Monterey a few weeks ago. Bostrom has an extra incentive in that if he still has a strong chance of catching Mladin in the series standings if he can keep winning.
Last year's doubleheader winner Aaron Yates will miss this weekend's race after suffering a broken left arm in a crash while leading at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on July 7th.
Doug Chandler and Pascal Picotte are both former winners at Mid-Ohio. Chandler is seeking a record fourth Superbike win at the circuit and Picotte is still trying to give Harley-Davidson its first victory in the series.
In MBNA 250 Grand Prix action, former champions Jimmy Filice and Rich Oliver are locked in a great contest for that championship. Filice, who came out of semi-retirement this year, leads the series by 26 points, but Oliver has been unbeatable when he finishes races and is looking to get his sixth Mid-Ohio 250 GP victory this Sunday.
Eric Bostrom has dominated the Pro Honda 600 SuperSport Series of late. Look for Duhamel to be the possible spoiler in that class this weekend. His Honda teammate Kurtis Roberts returns to action this weekend after receiving successful surgery in June on both arms for compartment syndrome.
Honda riders have won every Lockhart Phillips Formula Xtreme race at Mid-Ohio. That streak is certainly in danger of being stopped this weekend with the emergence of Gravesport Yamaha rider Damon Buckmaster. Buckmaster holds a 25-point lead over Valvoline EMGO Suzuki rider John Hopkins. Hopkins will need to finish ahead of Buckmaster at Mid-Ohio to have any real chance of winning his second straight AMA road racing championship. Local favorite Tom Kipp is expected to compete in the race this weekend, still filling in for the injured Jason Pridmore on the Attack Suzuki team.
Finally, the Genuine Suzuki Accessories 750 SuperSport Series is playing host to a great battle between series veterans Jimmy Moore and Rich Alexander. Moore, of Eugene, Ore., holds just a five-point lead over New Yorker Alexander. The series has been ultra-competitive with five winners in six races.