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Superbike VIR report

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

- AMA Pro Racing-

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Series AMA
Drivers Doug Chandler , Scott Russell , Eddie Lawson , Troy Corser , Fred Merkel