AMA Chevrolet Superbike Championship battle one of the best in years Top three riders virtually even as the series moves to Monterey, California PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 2, 2004) -- After the upcoming Honda Superbike Classic, July 9-11 at...
AMA Chevrolet Superbike Championship battle one of the best in years
Top three riders virtually even as the series moves to Monterey, California
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 2, 2004) -- After the upcoming Honda Superbike Classic, July 9-11 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the 2004 AMA Chevrolet Superbike Championship will be two-thirds complete. As the championship makes the turn for the homestretch the battle for the number one spot is heating up. Defending champ Mat Mladin is in the familiar spot of leading the championship, but the Suzuki ace is being hotly pursued by 1995 AMA Superbike champ Miguel Duhamel and first year factory Superbike sensation Jake Zemke, both on Hondas. The top three riders are covered by just 10 points with seven rounds remaining. The Honda Superbike Classic is part of the annual combined AMA and World Superbike weekend bringing together the top superbike riders from around the world.
An exciting subtext to Sunday's race is Eric Bostrom's opportunity to tie Freddie Spencer for the most AMA Superbike wins at Laguna Seca. Bostrom won the race in 2001 and 2002 aboard Kawasaki and this year he's looking to put his Ducati Austin bike on top. The legendary former world champion Spencer won his last race at Laguna Seca in 1995. It was his third AMA Superbike win on the famous Monterey circuit.
The top three AMA Superbike riders have all tasted victory at Laguna Seca. Mladin and Duhamel in Superbike and Zemke on a Formula Xtreme bike in 2002. Zemke is coming off his very first AMA Superbike win last week in Brainerd, Minn. Duhamel had won three of the previous four rounds before that, but Mladin hasn't had a win since mid-May in Birmingham, Ala. It's the longest stretch Mladin has gone without winning since his unmemorable 2002 campaign when the Yoshimura Suzuki rider went winless the entire season.
"I've still got the points lead as we head off to Laguna Seca for the next round and see what we can do," said Mladin, the only rider to have won four AMA Superbike Championships. "You're powering up hills out of tight turns there. So it won't be easy again, but we'll be trying our best as we always do and will be chasing the win there for sure."
Eric Bostrom is a distant fourth in the series standings and is now concentrating on getting race wins. If he manages to be victorious at Laguna Seca it would mark Ducati's first AMA Superbike win at the track in five years.
Privateer Geoff May is ranked fifth coming into this weekend. May is hoping to become the first since Dale Quartereley in 1995 to be a non-factory rider finishing the season ranked in the top five. May has shown amazing consistency on his Team Prieto Racing Suzuki this year scoring top-10 finishes in all but one round this year. His best result was a fifth at California Speedway in early April. May, last year's AMA Superbike Rookie of the Year, proved to be a quick learner on the challenging Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca road course last year. He qualified 39th, then charged all the way to 15th in the race.
Two established AMA Superbike stars are still trying to find their way this year. Both Ben Bostrom and Aaron Yates are experiencing seasons they'd just as soon forget. That all could change with a win at Laguna Seca. Bostrom burst onto the world radar by unexpectedly winning a round of the World Superbike Series at Laguna in 1999. Bostrom, who is ranked sixth in the current AMA standings, would love to get his season turned around with a win at one of his favorite tracks. Ben and his brother Eric grew up in the nearby San Francisco Bay area.
Yates is another rider hoping for good things at Laguna. His past results at the twisty circuit have been mixed and unfortunately he is best remembered at Laguna Seca for the unbelievable triple-digit speed high-side crash he had coming out of turn 10 a few seasons ago that made the highlight shows. He's also infamous for crashing in the first turn of one of the World Superbike races last year at Laguna causing a chain reaction that left several riders on the ground. A win for Yates would be more than just a simple victory; it would mark redemption of sorts for the Georgian.
The race will be broadcast live nationally on July 11, at 5 p.m. Eastern on SPEED Channel.
For ticket info contact Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at (800) 327-SECA or visit the website www.laguna-seca.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.