ROAD ATLANTA CELEBRATES 35TH ANNIVERSARY OF HOSTING AMA NATIONAL ROAD RACES PICKERINGTON, Ohio (August 29, 2006) -- When the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited visits Road Atlanta this Labor Day weekend, Friday, Sept. 1 ...
ROAD ATLANTA CELEBRATES 35TH ANNIVERSARY OF HOSTING AMA NATIONAL ROAD RACES
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (August 29, 2006) -- When the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited visits Road Atlanta this Labor Day weekend, Friday, Sept. 1 through Sunday Sept. 3, for the Suzuki Superbike Showdown presented by Makita, it will mark the 35th anniversary of the very first AMA road race national held at the scenic facility in Braselton, Ga.
In 1971 Australian native Kel Carruthers won the AMA national at Road Atlanta. Carruthers is now in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. This year possible future Hall of Famers Ben Spies and Mat Mladin will continue their battle for the 2006 AMA Superbike Championship. Spies, the 22-year-old second year Superbike rider from Longview, Texas, holds a 29-point lead over Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Mladin.
For the first time this season the title race is solely down to Spies and Mladin. Despite turning in a strong showing at the doubleheader two weeks ago at Virginia International Raceway Honda's Miguel Duhamel, who is third in the standings, was mathematically eliminated from championship contention.
Spies' lead in the standings was as high as 45 points before he broke his right hand in qualifying at the last round in Alton, Va., and finished second and fourth at VIR. His fourth-place in race two at VIR was the first time Spies has finished off the podium this season. The Texan will not be fully healed in time for Atlanta, but he hopes to finish somewhere in the top three at both of Road Atlanta's races to give him a solid lead going into the series finale in Lexington, Ohio, on Oct. 1.
"I'm fortunate that I had as big of a lead as I did when I broke my hand," said Spies, who has the opportunity at Road Atlanta to tie or break the single-season win record in AMA Superbike. "I'm going to Atlanta with the idea of making it through without too much more damage to my lead in the championship. A lot depends on how my hand feels. Hopefully the adrenaline will kick in and I won't notice it too much."
Mladin seemed almost resigned to turning over his crown to Spies after falling 45 points behind in the standings. And while he still thinks the championship is Spies' to lose, Mladin at least comes into Road Atlanta with some hope of retaining his title.
"All we can do is try and win," said Mladin after sweeping the VIR doubleheader. "In Atlanta [testing] we found a few things with the bike, and I almost feel like 2005. It's something that we really haven't had this year as much as I'd like. But that's the way it goes. I look forward to Atlanta. The test was good for us. We were pretty fast. I really enjoy the racetrack. I've done very good there. If we can get a couple more in, we can keep the pressure on."
Mladin has a record seven AMA Superbike wins at Road Atlanta.
Honda's Duhamel keeps closing the gap on the leading Suzuki riders. The 1995 AMA Superbike champ who hails from LaSalle, Quebec, but now lives in Las Vegas, says the veteran riders still have something to say in the series despite a youth movement.
"We get older, but we might get meaner," Duhamel said. "You get bitter when you get old. We don't want to let it go. We ride really hard and we're not going to give nothing away, that's for sure. You're going to have to come over and take it away."
Duhamel's teammate Jake Zemke is the only other rider besides Spies and Mladin to earn a victory this season. He is hoping for another win this weekend.
Georgia's own Aaron Yates is facing an uncertain 2007. He appears to be leaving Yoshimura Suzuki after 10 successful years on the squad. A victory at Road Atlanta would be a tremendous resume builder for Yates.
"My last win was there last year, the final race of the year," Yates said. "That track is one that you can get up there and you get in such a rhythm, and you just flow around the place. We had a really good test there, or a pretty decent test, a couple of weeks ago. It helps having friends and folks and family and all that up there cheering for you. And plus just being close to home. It doesn't take so long to get there and get home. I'm looking forward to going there, for sure."
Also making their swan song at Road Atlanta will be the factory Ducati Superbikes of Neil Hodgson and Ben Bostrom. Ducati has announced that it will temporarily leave the series while developing a new Superbike.
Kawasaki's Tommy and Roger Lee Hayden always have a strong following of fans coming down from Owensboro, Ky. The Kawasaki ZX-10RR has shown rapid improvement in the factory's first season back in Superbike after a couple of year's absence. Tommy, the eldest of the three racing Hayden brothers, scored his first-career AMA Superbike podium earlier in the season when he finished second in Monterey, Calif.
Georgia has long been a hotbed of motorcycle road racing with riders like Dale Singleton, Doug Brauneck, Scott Russell and Yates coming from the Peach State. A new crop of up-and-comers are hoping to follow in the footsteps of those champions. Superbike riders such as Matt Lynn from Ball Ground and David Weber of Alpharetta are hoping to have a good showing at their home track.
The Suzuki Superbike Showdown presented by Makita will be televised on SPEED. Saturday's will be shown on Sunday, Sept. 3 at 2:00 pm eastern, while Sunday's race will air on a same day tape-delayed basis starting at 7:00 p.m. eastern. For additional information call 800-849-RACE or visit the website www.roadatlanta.com.
WHAT: The Suzuki Superbike Showdown presented by Makita, rounds 17 and 18 of the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited.
WHERE: Road Atlanta is located in Braselton, Ga., about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta, Take I-85 to Exit 129, Go West on Highway 53 approximately 5.5 miles Road Atlanta is on the left.
WHEN: Sept. 1-3, 2006
COURSE: Road Atlanta's 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course
SCHEDULE: Friday, Sept. 1 -- Practice begins 8:30 a.m., qualifying at 2:00 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 2 -- Practice begin at 8:30 a.m., Superbike race one at 3:00 p.m., Formula Xtreme final at 4:00 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 3 - Practice begins at 8:30 a.m., Superstock final at noon, Supersport final at 1:30 p.m., Superbike race two at 3:00 p.m.
TICKETS: Call 800-849-RACE Toll Free or on the web at www.roadatlanta.com.
-credit: ama pro racing