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Fontana: Formula Xtreme preview

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (March 30, 2004) -- Miguel Duhamel will lead the charge of Lockhart-Phillips USA Formula Xtreme riders into round two of the series at California Speedway on April 2-4 for the Yamaha Superbike Challenge Weekend. Duhamel is...

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (March 30, 2004) -- Miguel Duhamel will lead the charge of Lockhart-Phillips USA Formula Xtreme riders into round two of the series at California Speedway on April 2-4 for the Yamaha Superbike Challenge Weekend. Duhamel is already the all-time winningest rider in AMA Chevrolet Superbike and Pro Honda Oils Supersport. Now the ageless veteran has started a winning tradition in another class. Duhamel won the opening round of the overhauled Lockhart-Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Series at Daytona. Formula Xtreme now features modified 600cc machines, or mini-Superbikes as some have called them. Duhamel is a natural for this class with his extensive background in both Superbike and Supersport racing.

"I'd like to start a new winning tradition in Formula Xtreme," Duhamel said. "Honda has given me a bike in the CBR600RR that's almost an unfair advantage. Maybe I had a little benefit because of my experience at Daytona and I held off Ben at the line. It's nice to have a perfect record in the class. I don't know how long that's going to last. I'm sure Fontana is going to be a little tougher."

Duhamel's Honda teammate Ben Bostrom finished a close second at Daytona, but is not slated to ride in the class at Fontana.

Honda was the class of the field in Daytona, sweeping the top four sports in the series opener. Fontana could be a different story. While the Hondas of Duhamel, Jake Zemke and Alex Gobert are favored Suzuki could be strong at Fontana with former AMA champs Jason Pridmore and Jimmy Moore. Both Pridmore and Moore had miserable outings at Daytona -- neither finished the race -- and both will be looking for a strong comeback at Fontana. Vincent Haskovec signed with Valvoline EMGO Suzuki during the off-season and scored sixth in the season opener at Daytona. Haskovec, a native of the Czech Republic who now lives in Lake Elsinore, Calif., would love to earn a podium finish at what has become his home track.

Rugged Aussie rebounds from injury to lead AMA Repsol Superstock Series

If toughness counts in racing then Graves Yamaha's doggedly determined Aaron Gobert has a very bright future. The 23-year-old middle brother of Australia's most famous motorcycle racing family was on his way to making a name for himself when he was involved in a freak accident that took out much of the lead pack in the 2002 Daytona Supersport final, leaving Gobert injured and with an uncertain racing future. Two years later Gobert has made a complete recovery, put the accident behind him and is now leading the AMA Repsol Superstock Series after a breathtaking victory in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

Gobert leads the revamped series as it moves from the East Coast to West Coast. California Speedway, in Fontana, will host round two of the Repsol Superstock Series, part of the Yamaha Superbike Challenge on April 2-4.

It was a dramatic beginning to the 1,000cc era of Superstock racing at Daytona, impressing even the riders involved in the last-lap dice. As veteran racer Hacking noted, "That was something else." Gobert took the victory by a scant .01 seconds on his Graves Yamaha R1, and the top five riders crossed the line in a bunch separated by just .131 seconds. Gobert sloughed off his horrifying crash two years earlier that almost ended his racing career. "I don't think about it anymore," he said after winning at Daytona. "I've been fortunate to be able to comeback and have a second chance. I plan on taking full advantage of that opportunity."

Yamaha's veteran Hacking finished just inches behind his young teammate at Daytona, extending his hard-luck streak at the famous Speedway. Hacking has no such jinx at Fontana. He is the defending Supersport winner at the track and is one of the favorites to win this year's Superstock race. Graves Yamaha has an incredibly strong team. In addition to Gobert and Hacking, there is also Damon Buckmaster and Jason DiSalvo. Buckmaster, a former Fontana winner, has perhaps the most experience with the big-bore bikes and DiSalvo is considered perhaps the most promising up-and-coming riders in the championship.

Kawasaki's new ZX-10R proved competitive right out of the box. At Daytona Tommy Hayden took third and his younger brother Roger Lee was fifth. The Haydens are counting on the rapid development of the new bike to help put them on top of the podium.

Defending Formula Xtreme champ Ben Spies is impatiently waiting to return to Fontana where he dominated the Formula Xtreme race last year. Spies is ranked eighth in Superstock after being forced to serve a stop-and-go penalty at Daytona for jumping the start. Spies is eager to show that the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 is up to the task of competing in the new Superstock formula. Suzuki dominated the series for years when it featured 750cc bikes but now, with all the major manufacturers fielding teams, Suzuki has its work cut out. Veteran rider Steve Rapp will be on the Valvoline EMGO Suzuki coming off a ninth place finish at Daytona.

Honda is stepping up big time in Superstock at Fontana with the expected entry of Anthony Gobert. Gobert won an AMA Superbike race at Fontana two years ago and is expected to be a leading competitor in the class once he shakes off the rust of having not raced regularly since the middle of last season. He is joining his youngest brother Alex on the Erion Honda squad.

The California Speedway Formula Xtreme race will be televised on SPEED Channel on Sunday, April 4 at 2 p.m. EST. For additional information on the Yamaha Superbike Challenge call 800-944-RACE (7223) or visit the website www.californiaspeedway.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 Chevrolet Superbike Championship.

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Series AMA
Drivers Anthony Gobert , Steve Rapp , Miguel Duhamel , Tommy Hayden , Damon Buckmaster , Jake Zemke , Ben Spies , Vincent Haskovec , Alex Gobert , Aaron Gobert , Jason Pridmore , Ben Bostrom