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Mladin tops standings entering Sears Point event

Mladin tops Superbike standings entering Supercuts Superbike challenge at Infineon Raceway. SONOMA, Calif. -- The early-season action is heating up in the battle for the AMA U.S. Chevy Trucks Superbike Championship as the series prepares to make...

Mladin tops Superbike standings entering Supercuts Superbike challenge at Infineon Raceway.

SONOMA, Calif. -- The early-season action is heating up in the battle for the AMA U.S. Chevy Trucks Superbike Championship as the series prepares to make its third stop of the season at Infineon Raceway for the Supercuts Superbike Challenge, presented by Honda of Milpitas, May 2-4.

Yoshimura Suzuki rider Mat Mladin has returned to the same form that saw him win three consecutive AMA Superbike championships from 1999-2001. Mladin, a native of Australia, enters the Supercuts Superbike Challenge in first place in the Superbike standings in 2003.

Mladin captured a doubleheader victory at California Speedway (April 5-6) to vault into first place with 100 points. He is followed by a pair of Honda riders in Miguel Duhamel (92) and Ben Bostrom (87).

Duhamel, who holds the record with four Superbike victories at Infineon Raceway, opened the season with a stunning victory at the Daytona 200. The 34-year-old is the all-time winningest rider in Superbike history with 26 victories. Bostrom, who won the AMA Superbike championship in 1998, returns to the series after a three-year stint in World Superbike.

With that kind of buildup, race fans will certainly be treated to a healthy dose of excitement when the series visits the 12-turn, 2.2-mile Sonoma Valley circuit.

This also marks the second consecutive year that the event will feature a doubleheader, with Superbike main events scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday. Honda's Nicky Hayden swept the races last year at Infineon Raceway, but has since moved to the Moto GP Series in Europe. That opens the door for Mladin, Duhamel, Ben Bostrom and brother Eric Bostrom (Kawasaki).

*Consistently being on top is how you win a championship,* said Eric Bostrom, who placed second to Hayden in the championship hunt last season. *And although there aren't as many factory riders this year as in the past, the difference now is each one seems to be a competitor. Each one is going to be the guy to beat. Although I do have to rate Ben as my toughest competitor.*

Raceway officials have also addressed rider concerns with enhancements at Turns 1, 8-10 and 11, which should make for the most exciting weekend of racing since the AMA first visited the circuit in 1977.

Riders will encounter a modified track in May, further demonstrating Infineon Raceway's commitment to the riders. The changes were made with the aid of both Bostroms, Duhamel, Aaron Yates (Suzuki), and AMA Road Race Manager Ron Barrick.

Turn 1 has been a sweeping left-hander, putting riders at a precarious angle as they approach a pedestrian bridge at the apex of Turn 1. The track has been extended 50 feet in a straight line before entering Turn 1. Riders will now make a left turn at approximately 90 degrees, which is designed to direct them away from the bridge and up the circuit toward Turn 2.

The entry into Turn 10 has also been altered. As riders crest Turn 8A, they will no longer continue down the esses. Instead, they will continue down a straight line for 900 feet, parallel with the Hillside Terraces at Turn 9, before making a 90-degree right-hand turn, followed by a sharp left-hand turn, which will blend them back with the original road course just before Turn 10. This alteration will slow the bikes down substantially entering Turn 10, plus it should also create an exciting passing zone in front of the Hillside Terraces.

The final enhancement will be at Turn 11, which has been shortened by approximately 40 feet. *It's definitely a good thing and it makes me feel good that the track is interested in what we have to say,* Yates said. *It makes you feel like the track appreciates what you have to say.*

WHAT: AMA Supercuts Superbike Challenge, presented by Honda of Milpitas.
WHEN: May 2-4.
WHERE: Infineon Raceway.

NOTABLE: It will be a doubleheader weekend with Superbike main events scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday.
COST: Advance -- $10 Friday, $30 Saturday, $30 Sunday, $50 weekend pass. Children 12 and under are free. Parking is free.
GATES: Gates open at 7 a.m. each day.
TICKETS: 800-870-RACE, www.infineonraceway.com, www.ticketmaster.com

-spir-

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About this article
Series AMA
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Miguel Duhamel , Aaron Yates , Eric Bostrom , Ben Bostrom