PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Suzuki, by any standard, is one of the most successful racing teams in the history of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championships. Yoshimura Suzuki, the official factory racing team of Suzuki, has amassed dozens of race...
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Suzuki, by any standard, is one of the most successful racing teams in the history of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championships. Yoshimura Suzuki, the official factory racing team of Suzuki, has amassed dozens of race wins, five AMA Superbike championships and earlier this season turned the very rare feat of sweeping the Superbike podium finishes at both Road Atlanta races. Yet for all of the team's accomplishments, the one thing that Suzuki has not managed to do is win an AMA Superbike race at The Colonel's Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd, Minn.
That could all change this weekend when the Chevy Trucks Superbikes come to Minnesota's Central Lakes Region for round 11 of the 14-race series. Suzuki has a not-so-secret weapon up its sleeve this year in the form of Mat Mladin, the Australian sensation, who has become one of the best riders in the 25-year history of the championships.
Brainerd is one of the few circuits on which Mladin has never won. However, the same could be said of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course until last Saturday when Mladin won the first round of a Superbike doubleheader. Mladin's first and second-place finishes last week in Lexington, Ohio, combined with a bit of bad luck experienced by his nearest rival, Kawasaki's Eric Bostrom, has left him with a commanding 45-point lead (331-286) over Bostrom.
With such a large points lead it would be easy to assume that Mladin might simply take it easy for the rest of the season and cruise home to his third-straight AMA Superbike championship, but taking it easy is nowhere to be found in Mladin's nature. He seems to thrive on challenges and winning Brainerd for Suzuki is just the kind of incentive that Mladin needs.
"Brainerd is actually one of my favorite tracks in America," said Mladin. "I haven't won there before, but did finish a very close second to Miguel DuHamel last year. The new Suzuki GSXR750 has been running strong and fast and this has given me the confidence of a good result this weekend." Mladin is seemingly writing new records at every race this year. Perhaps the most impressive is his string of pole positions. Mladin has put the factory Suzuki GSXR750 on the pole at every event this year– seven straight AMA Superbike poles. That matches a record shared by Doug Polen and Wayne Rainey. Mladin, already the all-time leader in AMA Superbike poles, could make the consecutive pole record his own this weekend and he is getting very close to Mike Baldwin's record of nine AMA Superbike poles in a single season.
While the Superbike championship, with just four races remaining including Brainerd, seems nearly decided, other riders are hoping to at least put some more wins in the book. Brainerd is one of the longest and fastest tracks in the series and it often produces some of the closest racing of the year.
Honda's Miguel Duhamel and Kawasaki ace Eric Bostrom are both former winners at Brainerd. Duhamel had an emotional comeback win there last year– his third at Brainerd. After a relatively slow first half of the season, Duhamel has looked strong in the second half; earning three podium finishes in the last five races. At Mid-Ohio Duhamel said he was looking forward to coming to Brainerd and hoped to repeat as race winner. Bostrom shocked the racing world in 1998 when he won Brainerd as a short-term replacement rider for Duhamel, who missed most of that season with a serious leg injury. A year later his older brother Ben won the race so Eric is hoping to uphold a Bostrom tradition of winning Brainerd. A victory there would at least give him some solace after blistering a tire at Mid-Ohio last Sunday. He pitted for new rear rubber, but had to settle for a 13th-place finish.
While Bostrom's Superbike title hopes are dwindling, he finds himself atop the Pro Honda 600 SuperSport Series. The Californian won at Brainerd last year and at has twice dominated a 600 SuperSport final this season. A group of three challengers, Anthony Gobert (Yamaha), Miguel Duhamel (Honda) and Tommy Hayden (Yamaha), are within six points of one another in a great tussle over second in the series and are ready to trounce if Bostrom falters.
Jimmy Filice, of the Corbin Yamaha team, is the surprise leader of the MBNA 250 Grand Prix Series. The two-time champion of the series came out of semi-retirement and is leading longtime rival Rich Oliver. Filice last won at Brainerd in 1993.
Australian Damon Buckmaster's move to the Lockhart Phillips Formula Xtreme Series this year on the Gravesport Yamaha has proven to be a smart one. "Bucky" leads the series over Valvoline EMGO Suzuki riders John Hopkins and Grant Lopez. Buckmaster hopes to give Yamaha its first Formula Xtreme win at Brainerd since local hero Greg Fryer, of Blaine,
Minn., was the surprise winner of the race in 1997. Fryer will be competing on a Superbike at Brainerd this year. Eugene, Oregon's Jimmy Moore comes into this weekend's race the leader of the Genuine Suzuki 750 SuperSport Series. Moore, who rides for the Corona Extra Suzuki squad, is getting close to secure his first AMA title after five years on the circuit.
Munroe Motors Racing Ducati rider Thomas Montano has been racing professionally for over decade and like Moore is closing in on his first AMA national championship in the Buell Pro Thunder Series. The class has been very competitive this year with five winners in five races.
DAILY SCHEDULE The Colonels Truck Accessories AMA Classic The Colonels Brainerd International Raceway - July 27-29, 2001
Thursday, July 26 Registration: Riders, Crew, Sponsors & Guests 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM Tech Inspection: 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Friday, July 27 Registration: Riders, Crew, Sponsors & Guests 7:30 AM - 4:00 PM Entries close for Formula Xtreme 10:00 AM Tech Inspection: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM Practice (in the following order): 8:30 AM - 11:00 AM 1. Buell Pro Thunder; 2. Pro Honda Oils 600 SuperSport; 3. MBNA 250 Grand Prix; 4. Genuine Suzuki Accessories 750 SuperSport; 5. Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Chevy Trucks Superbike Practice 11:10 AM - 12:10 PM Lunch Break 12:10 PM - 1:10 PM Practice (same order as morning session) 1:10 PM - 3:10 PM Chevy Trucks Superbike Qualifying 3:20 PM - 4:20 PM Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Qualifying 4:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Saturday, July 28 Registration: Riders, Crew, Sponsors & Guests 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM Entries close for all classes 9:00 AM Tech Inspection: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM Practice (in the following order): 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM 11. Buell Pro Thunder; 2. Pro Honda Oils 600 SuperSport; 3. MBNA 250 Grand Prix; 4. Genuine Suzuki Accessories 750 SuperSport; 5. Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Chevy Trucks Superbike Practice 10:10 AM - 11:00 AM Buell Pro Thunder Heat Race #1 (5 laps) 11:10 AM Buell Pro Thunder Heat Race #2 (5 laps) 11:25 AM Pro Honda Oils 600 SuperSport Qualifying, Even #s 11:40 AM - 12:00 PM Pro Honda Oils 600 SuperSport Qualifying, Odd #s 12:10 PM - 12:30 PM Lunch Break 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM Genuine Suzuki Accessories 750 SuperSport Qualifying, Even #s 1:30 PM - 1:50 PM Genuine Suzuki Accessories 750 SuperSport Qualifying, Odd #s 2:00 PM - 2:20 PM Chevy Trucks Superbike Qualifying 2:30 PM - 3:20 PM FINAL EVENTS & Heat Races (in the following order) 3:30 PM Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme (60k - 13 laps) MBNA 250 Grand Prix Heat Race #1 (5 laps) MBNA 250 Grand Prix Heat Race #2 (5 laps) Genuine Suzuki Accessories 750 SuperSport (60k - 13 laps)
Sunday, July 29 Registration: Crew, Sponsors & Guests 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM Tech Inspection Opens: 9:00 AM Practice (in the following order): 9:00 AM - 10:40 AM 1. Pro Honda Oils 600 SuperSport; 2. MBNA 250 Grand Prix; 3. Chevy Trucks Superbike; 4. Buell Pro Thunder Pro Honda Oils 600 SuperSport Final (60k - 13 laps) 11:00 AM Lunch Break: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM Nondenominational Chapel Service 12:30 PM FINAL EVENTS (in the following order) 1:00 PM MBNA 250 Grand Prix (60k - 13 laps) Chevy Trucks Superbike (100k - 21 laps) 2:00 PM Buell Pro Thunder (60k - 13 laps)
-AMA Pro Racing