PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Mat Mladin became only the fourth rider in the history of the AMA Superbike Series to win three championships and only the third to win three-straight titles Sunday, Sept. 30 at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in Alton,...
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Mat Mladin became only the fourth rider in the history of the AMA Superbike Series to win three championships and only the third to win three-straight titles Sunday, Sept. 30 at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in Alton, Va. The 29-year-old Australian finished off an outstanding 2001 season in the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championships with a safe 12th-place finish in the season finale. He won four races in the 13-race series and tied the AMA record for most pole positions in a season with nine. Mladin's championship marked the sixth AMA Superbike title for Suzuki.
In March, Mladin started the 2001 season with a convincing victory at the prestigious Daytona 200. He then went on to put his factory Yoshimura Suzuki atop the winners' rostrum at Road Atlanta, Road America and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Mladin's four victories this year moved him into a tie with Scott Russell and Eddie Lawson for fifth on the all-time AMA Superbike wins list with 14-career victories. Mladin also won a record nine Superbike poles this year and became the all-time leader in career AMA Superbike poles. He ended the 2001 campaign with 24-career poles.
At VIR, Mladin wore a special helmet in tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America. He also wore a unique set of racing leathers.
"The helmet (solid black and undecorated except for a U.S. flag) was just a tribute to the people for the things that happened a few weeks ago," said Mladin. "I mean, I couldn't believe it, what happened that day. I was glued to the television for three days. I couldn't train. I just -- you know, it happened in America, but it happened to the whole world, it's something that we all have to feel lucky to do what we do. It really put things into perspective for me. I mean, I came here this weekend and I said to the guys, if I win I win, and if I don't win then too bad. That's the way it goes. So the helmet was just to pay some respect and some remembrance to all those people that were lost in the tragedy. And the leathers are something I had planned before, even, obviously, any of this stuff. Green and gold are the sporting colors of Australia, so just to let people know that I'm Australian."
This year was Mladin's sixth season in the AMA series. He is a former Australian (1992) Superbike champion and former factory World Championship Grand Prix rider.
Mladin follows in the footsteps of the other three-time AMA Superbike champs Reg Pridmore, Fred Merkel and Doug Chandler. Pridmore and Merkel were the other riders to win the championships three years in a row. He is the first to win three-straight titles since Motorcycle Hall of Fame inductee Fred Merkel (1984-1986). Mladin is the second Australian to win the AMA Superbike championship -- Troy Corser was the first Aussie to accomplish the feat in 1994.
Mladin plans to return to defend his No. 1 plate next year. He will attempt to become the first rider to win four AMA Superbike titles.
<pre> FINAL 2001 AMA CHEVY TRUCKS U.S. SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP POINT STANDINGS
POS PTS NO RIDER, HOMETOWN BIKE WINS 1 380 1 MATHEW MLADIN, AUSTRALIA, SUZ 4 2 365 32 ERIC BOSTROM, LAS VEGAS, NV KAW 2 3 340 69 NICKY HAYDEN, OWENSBORO, KY HON 4 4 319 10 DOUG CHANDLER, SALINAS, CA KAW 5 300 17 MIGUEL DUHAMEL, SARASOTA, FL HON 6 293 22 TOMMY HAYDEN, OWENSBORO, KY YAM 7 268 82 STEVE RAPP, CORONA, CA DUC 8 267 92 JAMIE A HACKING, BOILING SPRINGS, SC SUZ 1 9 253 80 KURTIS L ROBERTS, MODESTO, CA HON 10 235 103 ANDREAS MEKLAU, AUSTRALIA, DUC 11 219 72 LARRY PEGRAM, BALTIMORE, OH DUC 12 205 911 MICHAEL A SMITH, CANTON, GA HD 13 202 20 AARON W YATES, MILLEDGEVILLE, GA SUZ 14 187 101 JORDAN M SZOKE, CANADA, ON HD 15 171 21 PASCAL PICOTTE, CANADA, QU HD 16 161 35 ANDREW J DEATHERAGE, CLEVELAND, OH SUZ 17 160 83 MAURO CEREDA, SARASOTA, FL SUZ 18 158 16 ANTHONY GOBERT, TUSCANY HILLS, CA YAM 1 19 118 38 DEAN MIZDAL, HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA SUZ 20 113 156 TONY MEIRING, TRACY, CA SUZ
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