Only 25 points separate top-five riders This is the first time in the eight years since Yates began competing in AMA Superbike that he's led the series standings. Four podium finishes in the seven rounds leading up to Pikes Peak, including ...
Only 25 points separate top-five riders
This is the first time in the eight years since Yates began competing in AMA Superbike that he's led the series standings. Four podium finishes in the seven rounds leading up to Pikes Peak, including a victory in the first leg of the Road Atlanta Superbike doubleheader, has been Yates' path to the series lead. Luck has helped Yates as well. His teammate, three-time AMA Superbike champion Mat Mladin, has been dominant so far this year, winning five races. But a tire failure at 170 mph at Road Atlanta sidelined Mladin and cost him the large points lead he'd built. Now the two Suzuki teammates are running nearly head-to-head in the middle of the championship season. Mladin's woes in the first Road Atlanta race acted to tighten up the race for the title with the top five riders now within 25 points of one another.
Pikes Peak is a tight and twisty road course that favors a quick handling machine. It will be interesting to see how the big Suzuki GSX-Rs handle the small 1.3-mile circuit. "We've tested there and turned fast laps," Yates said. "The GSX-R1000 accelerates so well that it should make it easier to pass on the short straights in Colorado."
One rider who has mastered the course over the years is Kawasaki's Eric Bostrom. Bostrom has won three AMA Superbike races at Pikes and is the only rider to earn multiple wins there. Bostrom comes into this Sunday's race third in the standings. Another victory at PPIR would move Bostrom even closer to the goal of an AMA Superbike title he's been trying to reach for five years.
Mladin didn't waste anytime regrouping after his harrowing ride at Road Atlanta. The determined Australian came back the very next day and won the second leg of the doubleheader weekend and pulled back to within two points of Yates. Pikes Peak is one of the few tracks that Mladin has not been victorious. He was twice runner-up, in 1998 and again in 2000, but finished fourth in each of the other four races there since 1997. He's hoping to break through with his first victory on Sunday.
For series leader Yates, Pikes Peak has been a mixed bag. Like Mladin, Yates has never won the Superbike race there. He finished second to Eric Bostrom last year and earned a third in 2000 after running second and letting teammate Mladin past him on the final lap to help Mladin's bid at that year's championship.
Is Yates feeling any added pressure from leading the championship for the first time in his career? "I've dealt with pressure before in the Supersport championship," said Yates, the 2002 Pro Honda Oils Supersport champ. "There are still a lot of races left and the only pressure on me is to finish in front of Mat (Mladin)."
This will be Ben Bostrom's first visit back to Pikes Peak since 1999. The Honda rider has never finished better than fifth at the circuit. His teammates have not fared much better. Kurtis Roberts' only start came in 2001, where he finished sixth. Miguel Duhamel won the very first AMA Superbike race held at Pikes Peak in 1997, but hasn't been close to the podium at the track since then. The gutsy Duhamel is recovering from a broken collarbone sustained at Infineon Raceway and the technical Pikes Peak course will be a real test. Duhamel sits sixth in the points and needs to stay close if he hopes to challenge for the championship.
The Pikes Peak Superbike race will be shown live on Speed Channel at 5 p.m. EST. For ticket information for the event call (888) 306-7223 or visit www.ppir.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.
Schedule of Events
AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship
Presented by Parts Unlimited
Cruise America AMA Superbikes
Pikes Peak International Raceway May 30 -- June 1, 2003
Thursday, May 29 8:30 -- 10:50 Practice: 1. Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport 2. Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme 3. Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock 4. MBNA 250 Grand Prix 11:00 -- 12:00 Chevy Trucks Superbike Practice 1:00 -- 2:50 Practice (same order as morning session) 3:00 -- 4:00 Chevy Trucks Superbike Qualifying 4:10 -- 5:00 Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Qualifying
Saturday, May 31 8:30 -- 9:50 Practice: 1. Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport 2. Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme 3. Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock 4. MBNA 250 Grand Prix 10:00 -- 10:50 Chevy Trucks Superbike Practice 11:00 -- 11:30 Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport Qualifying, Group 1 11:40 -- 12:10 Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport Qualifying, Group 2 3:50 -- 4:20 Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock Qualifying, Group 1 4:30 -- 5:00 Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock Qualifying, Group 2 1:10 -- 2:10 Chevy Trucks Superbike Qualifying 3:10 -- 3:40 MBNA 250 Grand Prix Qualifying 4:00 Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme (60k - 29 laps)
Sunday, June 1 9:00 -- 11:00 Practice: 1. Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport 2. MBNA 250 Grand Prix 3. Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock 4. Chevy Trucks Superbike
12:00 FINAL EVENTS: Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport Championship presented by Shoei Helmets Race (60k - 29 laps) MBNA 250 Grand Prix (60k - 29 laps) Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock Race (60k - 29 laps) 3:00 Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited (100k - 48 laps)