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Fontana: Round three preview

MLADIN BRINGS UNBEATEN RECORD TO CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 25, 2005) -- Five-time champion Mat Mladin brings his Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 and a perfect record to California Speedway in Fontana for rounds four and five of...

MLADIN BRINGS UNBEATEN RECORD TO CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 25, 2005) -- Five-time champion Mat Mladin brings his Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 and a perfect record to California Speedway in Fontana for rounds four and five of the 17-race AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited on April 29 through May 1. The Suzuki Superbike Challenge is the championship's lone stop in Southern California -- home to many of the teams and riders in the series.

Fontana marks the beginning of a busy May for the series, which will make three stops in the West next month.

Mladin has been perfect in Superbike so far this season. The 33-year-old Australian has won all three races, earned every pole and led the most laps in the rounds preceding Fontana. As a result the Suzuki ace has built an impressive 22-point lead over Britain's Neil Hodgson.

If Mladin's competition is looking for relief at Fontana it will be tough to find. Not only has Mladin swept the doubleheader the last two years there, he was also fastest in testing at the track earlier this year.

"We had a great start to the season and Fontana is a race track I like," Mladin said after sweeping the doubleheader round at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., this past weekend. "I'm looking forward to racing at Fontana. We did well in testing and the new 1000 was awesome on the track. I'm looking to get on a roll and really get this season going."

Former World Superbike Champion Neil Hodgson was brought in to help return Ducati to the prominence it enjoyed on the AMA circuit in the early 1990s. The friendly Brit has shown great promise in AMA racing but realizes he has a major task in front of him. Still, Hodgson knows the season is young.

"Our team has come together and made progress," said Hodgson, who has settled in Laguna Beach. "Right now we need a little more acceleration from our bike out of the corners and I'm sure Ducati will find a solution. At the moment Mladin is riding with a lot of confidence and his team is very experienced here in America. It's going to be a major task for our team to reach that level, but we're chipping away and hopefully we'll bridge the gap soon."

Suzuki's Ben Spies lies third in the standings having earned three straight podium finishes in his first full season of AMA Superbike racing.

"California Speedway is one of my strongest tracks," Spies said. "The last three years, we've been on the podium and the last two years we've won one of the races that I've been in, so it's really good. I'm in the Superbike class now, which is a lot stiffer [competition], we seem to have a pretty good set up for Fontana, so we are just going to go out there and do the best we can and try to win one, if not, get on the podium for sure."

Honda has struggled uncharacteristically so far this season. None of the team's Superbike riders have earned a podium finish, but veteran Miguel Duhamel came close last weekend, just being nipped by Spies on the final lap to finish fourth.

"I was happy that I was in a position to get a podium result last weekend," said Duhamel, the 1995 AMA Superbike champ. "I think we're making strong progress in our development curve and in a few more races we should be inching closer to be able to challenge for wins."

Among the independent teams Marty Craggill is showing success on the Mladin Motorsports Suzuki. Craggill has improved his finish with each outing this year and scored a season best ninth in Sunday's Superbike final in Birmingham. Josh Hayes on the Attack Kawasaki and the M4 EMGO Suzuki rider Vincent Haskovec are also strong contenders.

Saturday's Superbike event will be televised nationally on SPEED Channel beginning at 1 p.m. EST on Sunday, May 1. Live coverage of Sunday's Superbike final begins at 6 p.m. EST.

Bring the whole family out for a great weekend of racing. Kids under 12 and free with a paid adult general admission. For ticket information call California Speedway at (800) 944-7223 or visit the website www.californiaspeedway.com

About AMA Pro Racing

AMA Pro Racing is the leading sanctioning body for motorcycle sport in the United States. Its properties include the THQ AMA Supercross Series, the AMA Motocross Championship, the AMA Superbike Championship, the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship and the AMA Supermoto Championship. For more information about AMA Pro Racing, visit www.amaproracing.com.

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Series AMA
Drivers Neil Hodgson , Ben Spies , Vincent Haskovec , Marty Craggill , Josh Hayes