PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Miguel Duhamel is in his 15th season of AMA professional racing, but the 34-year-old native of Montreal shows signs of being in the racing form that enabled him to win the 1995 AMA Superbike title. Duhamel, the all-time AMA...
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Miguel Duhamel is in his 15th season of AMA professional racing, but the 34-year-old native of Montreal shows signs of being in the racing form that enabled him to win the 1995 AMA Superbike title. Duhamel, the all-time AMA Superbike wins leader, is coming off his 26th-career victory in the season opener, the Daytona 200, at Daytona International Speedway on March 10. Duhamel and the rest of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike competitors are heading to California Speedway, in Fontana, Calif., on April 4-6, for the Yamaha Superbike Challenge, rounds two and three of the 18-race championship.
This is the first time in four years that Duhamel has been atop the AMA Superbike standings. The veteran factory Honda rider is hoping to keep his momentum going as the series comes to Southern California.
"I'm feeling as strong as ever and my team has my Honda RC51 dialed in so well," Duhamel said. "It's going to be tough because of the great competition in the series, but I think I have a real shot at winning the championship this year. It's been eight years, so I think it is about time I win it back."
If Daytona was any indication, this year's series could be the most competitive in years. In the series opener, six riders led the race on three different brands. One of those riders who led at Daytona was Anthony Gobert. Gobert won the Saturday Superbike race last year in Fontana and is looking to get his season back on track after engine problems forced him to retire at Daytona.
"I'm looking forward to Fontana," said Gobert, a former Australian Superbike champ who rides for Ducati Austin. "We've got some points to make up after Daytona, but with 18 rounds this year, we have plenty of races to catch up. My goal is to go out and start winning races. If I do that then everything should fall into place for us."
Duhamel's Honda teammate Ben Bostrom is back in the AMA Series after three years in World Superbike. "I can't wait for a race where we have to hang it out the entire way," said Bostrom, referring to the normal 62-mile length of AMA Superbike races, versus the 200 miler at Daytona. "I haven't raced at Fontana, but we have tested there. I came out of Daytona second in the points, so I feel good about where I am heading into the rest of the season."
Kurtis Roberts has been close many times, but has yet to win his first AMA Superbike race. The 24-year-old son of legendary multi-time world champion Kenny Roberts, finished a very close third at Daytona and he is more than ready to get his first win in the books. He rides a Honda RC51 factory Superbike for Erion Racing.
While the factory Honda riders and Gobert are good bets at Fontana, the wildcards are factory Suzuki riders Mat Mladin and Aaron Yates, and Kawasaki's Eric Bostrom. Mladin and Yates are riding the new Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbikes. The new Suzukis were mega-fast at Daytona, but with so much power on tap, the challenge was to manage tire wear. Yates had the equation figured out at Daytona and was running in the lead group before an attempted pass on a lapped rider went awry forcing Yates to run off the track. He recovered and was charging towards the leaders and finished fourth at the drop of the checkered flag. Mladin and Yates each earned podium finishes at Fontana last year, so they know what it takes to do well there. Look for the Yoshimura Suzukis to be up front.
Eric Bostrom is riding one of the established Kawasaki ZX-7-based Superbikes. Bostrom's bike is a nimble handling machine and both rider and bike are proven winners. Eric, the younger brother of Ben, comes to Fontana ranked fifth in the standings. He thinks he'll be able to improve on that after the California Speedway doubleheader. Plus, Eric's coming off an extremely successful session at Infineon Raceway where top riders tested several track changes. That momentum should bode well for Eric at Fontana.
Another rider to watch at Fontana is Larry Pegram, who won an AMA Superbike race in Southern California in 1999. Pegram is on the Dream Team Racing Ducati.
Suzuki's GSX-R1000 has proven to be the Superbike choice of top privateers. Formula Xtreme champ Jason Pridmore could easily get up amongst the factory machines at Fontana on his Attack Suzuki GSX-R1000.
The first California Speedway Superbike doubleheader will run on Saturday, April 5 and the second race on Sunday, the 6th. Both rounds will be televised Live on Speed Channel (5 p.m. April 5 and 6 p.m., April 6 EST).
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.
About AMA Pro Racing
AMA Pro Racing is the leading sanctioning body for motorcycle sport in the United States. Its properties include the AMA Supercross Championship, the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championship, the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S Superbike Championship, the AMA Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championship and the AMA Red Bull Supermoto Championship. Nearly 2 million race fans attended AMA Pro Racing events during the 2002 season. For more information about AMA Pro Racing, visit www.amaproracing.com.