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Loudon Classic preview

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Two-time AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Champion Mat Mladin comes into this weekend's, June 15-17, Loudon Classic with everything falling into place in his efforts to win his third-straight title. The 29-year-old Australian...

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Two-time AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Champion Mat Mladin comes into this weekend's, June 15-17, Loudon Classic with everything falling into place in his efforts to win his third-straight title. The 29-year-old Australian is dialed into every track in the AMA series, but he and his factory Suzuki GSXR750 seem to be an especially superior combination on the twisty 1.6-mile New Hampshire International. Speedway road course. Mladin, shooting for his third Loudon win, won last year and in '97.

The Loudon Classic is one of the oldest events on the Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike calendar and can trace its roots back to the early 1930s. It became one of the first events to run under a new street-legal formula called Class C that the AMA implemented in 1933. The Classic was held at several venues in New Hampshire over the years, including Keene and Laconia. New Hampshire International Speedway has hosted the race since 1965.

Mladin comes into this weekend's race at Loudon, which marks the halfway point in the 14-race series, with a 35-point lead over Kawasaki ace Eric Bostrom. Mat has won three of the six AMA Superbike races leading to this Sunday's final and has also earned the pole and track record at every event. Mladin is attempting to become only the third rider in AMA Superbike history to win three consecutive championships. Reg Pridmore (1976-1978) and Fred Merkel (1984-1986) are the only other riders to accomplish the feat.

So far another Australian, Anthony Gobert, who rides for Yamaha, and Mladin's Suzuki teammate Jamie Hacking are the only other riders who have won an event this season. Doug Chandler, Aaron Yates and Miguel Duhamel join Mladin as past winners of the Loudon Classic. Yates is especially eager to race at the circuit and hopes to get his first Superbike win of the season.

"Loudon is a track I've always enjoyed," said Yates, who won the Superbike race there in 1998 and the 600 SuperSport race last year. "The track is a real challenge and you have to be pretty aggressive to go well there. Bike setup is important, but it takes a lot of skill and nerve to be fast at Loudon."

After losing last year's Pro Honda Oils 600 SuperSport championship on the final lap of the final race, Eric Bostrom seems to be a man on a mission this season. Bostrom leads the 600 SuperSport Series after earning three podium finishes in four starts. Bostrom, whose older brother Ben races in the World Superbike championships, is facing stiff competition from Anthony Gobert and Miguel Duhamel the all-time winningest rider in the series. The 600 SuperSport race always seems to provide the closest racing of the weekend. At Loudon that should be no different.

Two old rivals are facing one another again in the MBNA 250 Grand Prix Series. Jimmy Filice and Rich Oliver have challenged each other on the track in three different decades. Filice, 38, and Oliver, 39, are one and two in the series and are tied for the record number of 250GP wins at Loudon with four each. Filice won his first race at Loudon 19 years ago. Things are going just fine these days for Eugene, Oregon rider Jimmy Moore. Moore won his first AMA national last week in Elkhart Lake, Wis., in the Genuine Suzuki Accessories 750 SuperSport race and finds himself leading the series. Moore's biggest challenger so far has been 16-year-old young gun Ben Spies of Longview, Texas. Spies was last year's recipient of the AMA Horizon Award, which recognizes the top talent in the amateur ranks. Spies will be making his first visit to Loudon as a pro.

The Buell Pro Thunder Series returns to the series this weekend. Floridian Mike Ciccotto, of the Hal's Performance Buell team, leads defending champ Jeff Nash who rides for and owns Advanced Motorsports Ducati. Loudon is one circuit where local riders often do well in the Pro Thunder race. Chris Arbor, of Salem, N.H., won last year's Pro Thunder race. While Mladin and Gobert have been the stars in Superbike, the Aussie invasion is alive and well in the Lockhart Phillips Formula Xtreme Series as well. Countrymen and Gravesports Yamaha teammates Damon Buckmaster and Aaron Gobert (Anthony's 20-year-old younger brother) run first and second in the Xtreme class, which features powerful 1000cc four-cylinder machines. Both Buckmaster and Gobert ride Yamaha's R1.

<pre> Following is the broadcast schedule for the 2001 Loudon Classic: DATE TIME CLASS NETWORK 6/17 1 p.m. 600 SuperSport Fox Sports Net 6/17 2 p.m. (LIVE) Superbike Speedvision 6/23 5 p.m. Superbike Fox Sports Net 6/24 3 p.m. 600 SuperSport Speedvision 6/19 9 p.m. Formula Xtreme Speedvision

-AMA

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Series AMA
Drivers Anthony Gobert , Miguel Duhamel , Jamie Hacking , Doug Chandler , Aaron Yates , Eric Bostrom , Damon Buckmaster , Ben Spies , Aaron Gobert