PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 18, 2003) - Aaron Yates knows if he is to make a serious challenge to win his first AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship that the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is the perfect venue for him to make his move. Yates, the...
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 18, 2003) - Aaron Yates knows if he is to make a serious challenge to win his first AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship that the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is the perfect venue for him to make his move. Yates, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider from Milledgeville, Ga., is the winningest active AMA Superbike rider at Mid-Ohio. Three of Yates' seven career AMA Superbike victories have come at the well-known Central Ohio circuit.
On July 25-27, Mid-Ohio will host rounds 13 and 14 of the 18-race AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited. The Superbike doubleheader is the culmination of the 12-day Cycle-Fest at Mid-Ohio, which includes the AMA Road Racing Grand Championship, AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days and the Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire. Mid-Ohio's Cycle-Fest has blossomed into one of the biggest motorcycling events of the summer. The track first hosted AMA Superbikes in 1983.
Yates, an 11-year veteran of AMA Pro Racing, sees this season as perhaps his best opportunity to win the coveted AMA Superbike title. "This is something I've been working towards my whole career," said Yates, whose previous high finish in AMA Superbike was third in 2000. "Mid-Ohio is a track I like a lot and if I could manage another sweep of the doubleheader there like I did in 2000 then I have a good chance of leaving with the series lead."
Yates won the Mid-Ohio Superbike round in 1998 and swept the doubleheader in 2000, the first year the track held two rounds of the championship. He was only the second rider to win three AMA Superbike races at Mid-Ohio, following in the footsteps of three-time AMA Superbike champ Doug Chandler.
Yates is chasing his Suzuki teammate Mat Mladin, who leads the championship with six rounds remaining. Mladin already has seven wins on the season and very likely would have more had his tires held up for him. The Aussie has been pushing his factory Suzuki GSX-R1000 to unprecedented lap times this year and that has forced him to pit and even retire from races after overheating his bike's tires. Mladin has moved into second on the all-time AMA Superbike wins list and is well within reach of matching or beating the single-season Superbike win record of 10 victories set by Motorcycle Hall of Famer Fred Merkel in 1984. Since coming to the AMA Superbike Series in 1996, Mladin has compiled the best overall record of any rider at Mid-Ohio with five podium finishes, including a victory in 2001. He has finished outside the top 10 only once in 10 races at the track and that was in 1996 when he crashed in that year's rain-soaked event.
Trailing Mladin by just six points in the championship is two-time series runner-up Eric Bostrom of the factory Kawasaki team. Bostrom won the first leg of the Superbike doubleheader at Mid-Ohio last year and was expected to be a favorite to win at least one of this year's races, but a crash at the World Superbike race in Monterey, Calif., on July 13, left Bostrom with a separated right shoulder. Bostrom's status for the race is day-to-day. He certainly will not be at 100 percent if he competes at Mid-Ohio.
This season is providing fans with one of the most competitive championships in AMA Superbike history. The top six riders are all well within reach of the championship.
Honda, which won its eighth AMA Superbike championship last season with Nicky Hayden, has three riders in the thick of this year's title chase. Kurtis Roberts leads the Honda contingent. He is fourth in the standings and is seeking his first AMA Superbike victory. Mid-Ohio has not been the best track for Roberts since he started racing Superbikes three years ago. He's yet to make the podium at the race despite being a former Mid-Ohio winner in the 250 Grand Prix, Formula Xtreme and Supersport divisions.
Shadowing Roberts in the title chase are teammates Ben Bostrom and Miguel Duhamel. Ben Bostrom, older brother to Eric, is making his first appearance at Mid-Ohio since 1999. He's looking for his first AMA Superbike win since returning from three years of World Superbike competition. Duhamel is another former Mid-Ohio winner. The French-Canadian won the race in 1997 and famously led the event on a Harley-Davidson in 1996.
Shawn Higbee and Jason Pridmore are proving that you don't need to be a factory rider to be competitive. New rule changes implemented in Superbike this year have given a big boost to privateer teams and Higbee, on the KWS Suzuki, and Pridmore, who rides for Attack Suzuki, are running seventh and eighth in the series standings respectively. Pridmore, son of three-time AMA Superbike champion Reg Pridmore, has a podium finish at Mid-Ohio to his credit.
Mid-Ohio is one of the best-attended races in the series and the challenging course is a favorite of many of the riders. Upwards of 50,000 fans regularly make the trek to the circuit, which is located approximately halfway between Columbus and Cleveland in Lexington, Ohio. The track offers some of the best viewing areas in the championship and is perfect for bringing a big blanket and a picnic basket to watch the speeding Superbikes from under a shade tree. Both Saturday and Sunday's rounds of the Mid-Ohio Superbike doubleheader will be taped for same-day broadcast on Speed Channel. Saturday's Superbike final will air at 3:30 p.m. EST, while Sunday's broadcast will begin at 2:30 p.m. EST.
For additional information on the event call (800) MID-OHIO or visit www.midohio.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 Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship.