AMA SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP TIED COMING INTO ROAD AMERICA PICKERINGTON, Ohio (May 29, 2007) -- Road America is set to host one of the hottest rivalries in AMA Superbike Championship racing history. With the Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader on June...
AMA SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP TIED COMING INTO ROAD AMERICA
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (May 29, 2007) -- Road America is set to host one of the hottest rivalries in AMA Superbike Championship racing history. With the Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader on June 1-3, at the scenic four-mile circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wis., fans will have the opportunity to see a battle royale between Superbike's top two riders -- defending champ Ben Spies, of Longview, Texas, and six-time AMA Superbike title holder Australian Mat Mladin. After seven rounds the Yoshimura Suzuki duo are tied for the series lead -- a rarity coming into mid-season.
Road America has been hosting AMA Superbike races since 1980, but not since the days of Eddie Lawson vs. Freddie Spencer in the early 1980s or Wayne Rainey vs. Kevin Schwantz in the late '80s, has there been such an intense rivalry in the championship.
Not only have there been superb duels on the track, the two have also traded verbal jabs in the press. Mladin often claiming he was not on top of his game last year when his domination was broken by Spies, and Spies saying that he receives no respect from his more veteran racing colleague.
Now the drama-filled series moves to the high-speed Road America, a track where Mladin has claimed six of his record 56-career AMA Superbike wins. The Aussie sensation is coming off a sweep of the doubleheader at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., on May 19-20.
"It was a great weekend for us," Mladin said of the last round. "We're looking to getting up to Road America, to a racetrack that I really enjoy a lot. As far as for me, it's one of my favorites, because of the speed, and the type of corners they have. So I'm looking forward to getting up there. It was good to get two wins at Infineon, to close up the points, and we'll head up to Wisconsin in a couple of weeks."
Even though Spies has yet to earn a Superbike win in Elkhart Lake, he seems up for the challenge the longest track in the series presents.
"It was a little frustrating [at Infineon Raceway], but speed-wise we weren't too bad," Spies said. "We weren't quite as quick, obviously, but it wasn't demoralizing, just a little frustrating. So we're going to Road America. I've never won there, but it's my favorite track, for sure, and hopefully we can turn that around there."
Between them, Mladin and Spies have won every race so far this season. The rider who most frequently keeps the Suzuki riders in sight is veteran Honda rider and five-time Road America Superbike winner Miguel Duhamel. The Montreal native, who now calls Las Vegas home, is third in the rankings, 41 points behind the leaders.
"Obviously Road America has been one of the strongest tracks for me over the years," said Duhamel, who swept the doubleheader there in 2002. "It's been really tough to have such a great bike in my Honda CBR1000RR and still not have a win to my credit. I'm hoping we can change that real soon."
Eric Bostrom is another former Road America winner. Bostrom is back in Superbike with the factory Yamaha squad. Yamaha's return to Superbike racing has been marked by moments of excellence, especially early in races. Bostrom, and his teammate Jason DiSalvo, are hoping to find the combination to put Yamaha back atop the Road America Superbike podium for the first time in six years.
Like Yamaha, Kawasaki has gone through a long dry spell at Road America. Roger Hayden and Jamie Hacking are now piloting the Monster Energy-back Kawasaki ZX-10Rs and both say the bikes have the speed, now they have to perfect the handling. The long straights at Road America could play right into the strengths of their bikes.
Eraldo Ferracci experienced success at Road America in the early-to-mid 1990s with his riders Doug Polen, Pascal Picotte and Alessandro Gramigni. Now Ferracci is fielding a new Superbike team running MV Agustas with Italian Luca Scassa and Georgian Matt Lynn. The exotic MV Superbikes have been steadily improving as the season progresses.
This will be the home race for the Jordan Suzuki team. The Chicago-based squad has a bona fide Superbike contender this year in Aaron Yates. He barely missed scoring a podium finish at Barber Motorsports Park in April. The team is hoping that Yates, or teammate Jake Holden, can finally give the team its long-awaited Superbike podium in Elkhart Lake.
Road America's AMA Superbike races will air on SPEED on Sunday, June 3. Saturday's race will be shown at 2:00 pm Eastern and the Sunday's race will broadcast live at 4:00 pm Eastern.