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Laguna Seca: Round eight preview

PICKERINGTON, Ohio - On July 18-20, the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited will contest the first of two rounds to be held this season at the famed Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit in Monterey, Calif. The July stop has also...

PICKERINGTON, Ohio - On July 18-20, the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited will contest the first of two rounds to be held this season at the famed Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit in Monterey, Calif. The July stop has also become an annual meeting with the superstars of the MotoGP World Championship, widely considered the pinnacle of global motorcycle road racing.

The Past The MotoGP field boasts some of the AMA Superbike Championship's most decorated graduates, led by 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden, a former AMA Superbike and Supersport champ. Hayden won the U.S. Grand Prix in 2005 and 2006.

1992 AMA 250GP champion Colin Edwards is another top MotoGP competitor with an AMA Superbike pedigree. The Texan has been performing impressively this season, regularly finishing in the top five and occasionally landing on the podium.

Unfortunately, former AMA Formula Xtreme and Superstock king John Hopkins will be unable to compete in front of his home fans at Laguna Seca, ruled out by injury.

And Present

In a rare treat, the American fans at Laguna Seca will also get to witness two of their brightest present-day stars competing in the MotoGP class in addition to their regular AMA Superbike duties.

Two-time AMA Superbike champ Ben Spies will make his second-ever GP start and comes into Laguna Seca hoping to gain some recognition with his wild card ride for Rizla Suzuki. With the experience he gained racing at Donington Park and testing at Indianapolis to aid him, the Texan is well poised to demonstrate his vast talent.

Spies will be joined by fellow AMA Superbike contender Jamie Hacking, who is filling in for the injured Hopkins on the Kawasaki Racing Team. The three-time AMA support-class champion is fresh off a test on the 800cc Grand Prix Kawasaki in Japan, where he lapped at record pace.

Big Time

The combined MotoGP/AMA Superbike round at Laguna Seca is the most-attended round of the season with the three-day spectator numbers approaching 150,000 as fans flock to the picturesque circuit from far and wide.

The 2.238-mile track is a unique raceway featuring incredible elevation changes, including the steeply descending Corkscrew, one of the most recognizable corners in international motorsport.

The busy combined schedule means the AMA Formula Xtreme and Superstock classes will not be contested this weekend.

AMA SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP PRESENTED BY PARTS UNLIMITED

Spies Looking to Defend at Laguna Seca
Laguna Seca is a favorite of Rockstar Makita Yoshimura Suzuki's double-title winner and the results bear that out. He's won three times in a row in the Superbike class at the circuit, including both races last season.

The Texan's win in the '07 season finale to secure his second consecutive AMA Superbike crown by a single point over teammate Mat Mladin is already regarded as a series classic.

Spies is rolling again this season on his GSX-R1000 and carries in an imposing 40-point advantage over Mladin (378-338).

Don't Count Out Mat
While Mladin has not been as comfortable as his teammate at Laguna Seca in the past, he stepped up his game at the circuit to push Spies hard in the 2007 finale. The Australian has also recently recaptured his winning form, snapping Spies' record-breaking seven-race win streak in the season's most recent race at Road America in early June.

Mladin took top honors at Laguna Seca in 2003.

Hacking Rolling
After some early teething issues with his new ZX-10R Superbike, Monster Energy Kawasaki's Hacking has the new machine working to his liking now. The British-born ace enters the weekend with six straight podium rides to his credit.

He's also something of a Laguna Seca master in his own right, having picked up five undercard wins at the track.

Bostrom Hoping to Find Laguna Form of Old
Yamaha USA's Eric Bostrom is another Laguna Seca expert, having scored three AMA Superbike race wins in Monterey in the past (twice with Kawasaki, once with Ducati).

The Californian is still looking to score his first podium result of the season.

AMA PRO HONDA OILS SUPERSPORT CHAMPIONSHIP PRESENTED BY SHOEI

Bostrom Bounces Back
Graves Motorsports Yamaha's Ben Bostrom rebounded from a forgettable weekend at Miller Motorsports Park and got back to his winning ways at Road America, albeit in atypical fashion.

Bostrom excelled in difficult weather conditions to cross the finish line in second on his YZF-R6, and was later elevated to first after Steve Rapp was stripped of victory following the post-race technical inspection.

The win is Bostrom's fourth in six races. Due in large part to his Utah disappointment, he only holds a slim four-point advantage over Erion Honda's Jake Zemke (191 vs. 187).

Bostrom has won multiple races at Laguna Seca over the years, including World Superbike and AMA Superbike contests.

The Return of Rog
Reigning Supersport champion Roger Hayden is expected to make his long-awaited return to action at Laguna Seca after spending months on the sideline recovering from the injuries he sustained at Barber Motorsports Park.

The Monster Energy Kawasaki pilot took a huge step towards his first Supersport title at the circuit last season, coming out on top following a dramatic shootout.

Hayden also impressed onlookers from all over the globe that weekend by finishing in the top ten in his debut (and to date, only) MotoGP race.

Where He Got His First
Graves Motorsports Yamaha's teenaged sensation, Josh Herrin, claimed his first-ever AMA victory in last season's Supersport finale at Laguna Seca. Herrin's championship aspirations will be boosted if he's able to add another Laguna Seca win to his credit; his title hopes have taken a bit of a hit in recent rounds. Herrin is ranked fourth in the class, now trailing Team M4 EMGO Suzuki's Blake Young in the standings along with the leading duo of Bostrom and Zemke.

Herrin's 153 points leave him 38 points removed from first-placed Bostrom.

Coverage on SPEED
This weekend's AMA Superbike race will air on Sunday, July 20 on SPEED at 10:00pm Eastern. The Pro Honda Oils Supersport race will be shown on SPEED earlier the same day, airing at 6:00pm Eastern.

Tickets
Tickets for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix can be obtained online at secure.laguna-seca.com/tickets/ or by calling 1-800-327-7322.

-credit: ama

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About this article
Series AMA
Drivers Steve Rapp , Nicky Hayden , Colin Edwards , Jamie Hacking , John Hopkins , Eric Bostrom , Jake Zemke , Roger Lee Hayden , Ben Spies , Blake Young , Josh Herrin , Ben Bostrom