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Duhamel will try to become first four-time AMA Superbike winner at BIR PICKERINGTON, Ohio (June 23, 2003) -- On June 27-29 the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited comes to Brainerd, Minn., for round 11 of...

Duhamel will try to become first four-time AMA Superbike winner at BIR

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (June 23, 2003) -- On June 27-29 the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited comes to Brainerd, Minn., for round 11 of the 18-race series. A single point separates series leader Eric Bostrom from three-time AMA Superbike champion Mat Mladin in one of the tightest battles in the history of the series. Mladin's Suzuki teammate Aaron Yates, who led the series earlier in the season, is solidly in the championship hunt as is Honda's Ben Bostrom and Kurtis Roberts. Any one of the top five riders could conceivably leave Brainerd with the series points lead.

Miguel Duhamel, who rides for Honda, will attempt to become the first four-time winner of the race. Duhamel heads up a trio of former Brainerd Superbike winners taking to the track this weekend that also includes the brothers Eric and Ben Bostrom.

This year will mark the 20th anniversary of AMA Superbike racing at Brainerd. Motorcycle Hall of Famer Wayne Rainey won the very first race held there in 1983. Rainey's win came on a factory Kawasaki, but since that time the race has been practically owned by Honda. Fred Merkel and Rainey combined to give Honda four-straight Superbike wins at the track in the 1980s. Coming into this year Honda is running a three-race winning streak at BIR. Even more impressive is the fact that Honda made a rare sweep of the Superbike podium at Brainerd in 2001.

All three factory Hondas have good reason to believe they can win at Brainerd this year. Duhamel has won three times before at the track and always goes well there. "A lot of drafting comes into play at Brainerd," said Duhamel, the all-time AMA Superbike wins leader. "Horsepower helps, but the draft can keep you in there even if you lack a little power." Duhamel should know; he memorably led Brainerd on the Harley-Davidson VR1000 Superbike in the 1994 race.

Duhamel's teammate Ben Bostrom should feel right at home at Brainerd even though this will be his first visit to the track since 1999. Bostrom won his only AMA Superbike race at BIR that year and is hoping to earn his second-career victory this weekend.

The third factory Honda rider Kurtis Roberts, of the Erion Honda Racing squad, feels he should have earned his first AMA Superbike win at Brainerd two years ago. That year Roberts made a spectacular pass on fellow Honda rider Nicky Hayden coming into the final corner. He led coming out of the turn and heading to the checkered flag, but he grabbed just a tad too much throttle. That sent his bike sideways and gave Hayden the opportunity to pass him by mere inches at the line. It proved to be one of the most dramatic and closest finishes in AMA Superbike history with Duhamel and Jamie Hacking taking a very close third and fourth -- the top four covered by .500 of a second at the stripe. Roberts hopes to erase the memory of the race that could have been with a victory on Sunday.

As good as Honda's luck has been at Brainerd over the years, it's been almost equally as rotten for both Suzuki and Kawasaki. Suzuki has never won an AMA Superbike race at Brainerd and Kawasaki's one and only victory came 20 years ago. Ironically, all that could change this weekend since the top two riders in the series are Kawasaki- and Suzuki-mounted.

Kawasaki's Eric Bostrom comes into Brainerd leading the series. He won his very first AMA Superbike race at Brainerd in a shocker back in 1998 as a replacement rider for the injured Duhamel. It would be fitting for Bostrom to give Kawasaki its second AMA Superbike win 20 years after Rainey gave the company its first and only win at the circuit.

Mladin would love to break through to win his first at Brainerd. It's one of the few tracks on the circuit where he hasn't won. He's been runner-up three times at BIR, but his luck took a turn for the worse here in the last few years. In 2001 he suffered a rare crash on the first lap of the race and last year his Suzuki had mechanical problems and he was forced to retire. Mladin would love to finally give Suzuki a win at Brainerd.

Mladin's teammate Aaron Yates is third in the standings coming into this race. For some reason, Brainerd has never been kind to Yates. His best finish at the track was a seventh in both 1996 and 2000. He, like Mladin, will be shooting to give Suzuki a victory at BIR.

Austin Ducati split with rider Anthony Gobert and will bring in Italian racer Giovanni Bussei. The last time Ducati brought over a rider from Italy mid-season it resulted in a Brainerd win for the Italian maker when Alessandro Gramigni took the unexpected victory in 1996.

Of the privateers Jason Pridmore has the most history at BIR. Pridmore had one of his best AMA Superbike races ever at Brainerd in 1998 when he finished fourth on a Ducati.

The Brainerd Superbike race will be shown live on Speed Channel at 4 p.m. EST Sunday, June 29. For additional information on the race contact BIR at (218) 824-7220 or visit www.brainerdraceway.com.

For immediate post-race results, points, live transponder scoring, in-depth series and rider information, regular columnists and much more, log onto www.USSuperbike.com, the official website of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship.

<pre> Schedule of Events Brainerd International Raceway, Brainerd, MN - June 27-29, 2003

Friday, June 27 8:30 -- 10:50 Practice: 1. Pro Honda Oils U.S.Supersport 2. Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme 3. Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock 4. MBNA 250 Grand Prix 11:00 -- 12:00 Chevy Trucks Superbike Practice 12:00 -- 1:00 Lunch Break 1:00 -- 2:50 Practice (same order as morning session) 3:00 -- 4:00 Chevy Trucks Superbike Qualifying 4:10 -- 5:00 Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Qualifying

Saturday, June 28 8:30 -- 9:50 Practice: 1. Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport 2. Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme 3. Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock 4. MBNA 250 Grand Prix 10:00 -- 10:50 Chevy Trucks Superbike Practice 11:00 -- 11:30 Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport Qualifying, Group 1 (slower) 11:40 -- 12:10 Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport Qualifying, Group 2 (faster) 12:10 -- 1:10 Lunch Break 1:10 -- 1:40 Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock Qualifying, Group 1 (slower) 1:50 -- 2:20 Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock Qualifying, Group 2 (faster) 2:30 -- 3:30 Chevy Trucks Superbike Qualifying 3:40 -- 4:10 MBNA 250 Grand Prix Qualifying 4:20 Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme (60k - 13 laps)

Sunday, June 29 9:00 -- 11:00 Practice: 1. Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport 2. MBNA 250 Grand Prix 3. Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock 4. Chevy Trucks Superbike 11:00 Lunch Break 11:20 Nondenominational Chapel Service 12:00 FINAL EVENTS: Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport Championship presented by Shoei Helmets Race (60k - 13 laps) MBNA 250 Grand Prix (60k - 13 laps) Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock Race (60k - 13 laps) 3:00 Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited (100k - 21 laps)

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Series AMA
Drivers Anthony Gobert , Kurtis Roberts , Nicky Hayden , Miguel Duhamel , Jamie Hacking , Aaron Yates , Eric Bostrom , Wayne Rainey , Giovanni Bussei , Jason Pridmore , Fred Merkel , Ben Bostrom