Mladin becomes first four-time AMS Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Champion Australian gives Suzuki its seventh AMA Superbike title PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 23, 2003) -- Mat Mladin capped off one of the finest seasons in the history of AMA ...
Mladin becomes first four-time AMS Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Champion
Australian gives Suzuki its seventh AMA Superbike title
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 23, 2003) -- Mat Mladin capped off one of the finest seasons in the history of AMA Superbike racing by earning his fourth championship Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. With a third place finish in the final race of the 2003 AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited, Mladin became the first rider ever to win four AMA Superbike Championships.
Mladin's championship marked the seventh AMA Superbike title for Suzuki. His Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Aaron Yates pushed the series battle to the final race by winning the first of the Superbike doubleheader at Barber on Saturday. Yates ended the season runner-up to Mladin. In addition to earning first and second in the rider's championship, Suzuki also won this year's AMA Superbike Manufacturers Championship.
Mladin's 2003 racing campaign is one for the record books. The 31-year-old Mladin, who hails from Camden, Australia, won 10 races en route to his championship. That tied Fred Merkel's 1984 mark for the most AMA Superbike race wins in a single season. Mladin also won seven AMA Superbike pole positions this season further extending his own all-time AMA Superbike pole position record to 31.
"It has been a good year for us for sure," said Mladin, who jumped from sixth to second on the all-time AMA Superbike wins list in 2003. "We had a few tire problems and other things that handed a couple of wins away for us and then towards the end of the season we had to consolidate our position and that meant not going for the win each time, but it all worked out well for us."
Mladin took over the championship lead in April from Honda's Miguel Duhamel after winning round three in Fontana, Calif. He briefly lost the series lead in May after surviving a harrowing rear tire failure at over 150 miles per hour at Road Atlanta. Mladin charged back to take over the series
lead again with a victory in the Saturday race of the Road America doubleheader only to fall behind again in the title chase the next day, this time to Kawasaki's Eric Bostrom, after pitting to change from rain tires on a fast-drying Road America. At Brainerd, Minn., in late June, Mladin battled for the lead with his teammate Aaron Yates before being forced to pit when another rear tire started to tear apart. With a victory in Monterey, Calif., in mid-July, Mladin took back the series lead then proceeded to go on a four-race winning streak and pull away in the championship points battle.
In the end Mladin won the championship over Yates by 31 points (550-519) -- the largest margin of victory in the championship Mladin has enjoyed in his four titles. Honda's Kurtis Roberts, bolstered by a win in the final race of the series in Alabama, finished third in the championship with 474 points.
Mladin was quick to thank Suzuki and his entire crew for the team effort it took to win the title. "It's something we've worked for all year," Mladin said. "It's been a long season, and I was hoping it wasn't going to come down to the last race, but that's how it worked out. I'm happy to get it."
Suzuki took full advantage of the new AMA Superbike rules and produced an awesome Superbike in its GSX-R1000. One needs only to look at the final tally to realize the bike's capabilities. The factory Suzukis of Mladin and Yates won 13 of 18 rounds this season. Even the privateer Suzukis turned in a good showing. Jason Pridmore's pair of second-place finishes at the Mid-Ohio doubleheader of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship in July on his Attack Suzuki marked the best finish in the series for a non-factory team in eight years. Shawn Higbee was the top finishing privateer in the series. He was sixth on his Kaufman Trailers/Millennium Technologies Suzuki.
Mladin plans on returning with Suzuki to shoot for a fifth AMA Superbike title in 2004. With a host of new 1000cc superbikes being introduced, Suzuki will have its hands full defending its title. Time will tell if the brand is up to the challenge.
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.