IT'S CRUNCH TIME FOR SPIES AND MLADIN AT ROAD ATLANTA PICKERINGTON, Ohio (August 28, 2007) -- Things couldn't be much tighter in the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited as the series moves to Road Atlanta, in Braselton,...
IT'S CRUNCH TIME FOR SPIES AND MLADIN AT ROAD ATLANTA
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (August 28, 2007) -- Things couldn't be much tighter in the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited as the series moves to Road Atlanta, in Braselton, Ga., for the Rockstar Suzuki Superbike Showdown on Aug. 31 - Sept. 2. Mat Mladin's recent four-race winning streak on his Yoshimura Suzuki has moved him to within six points of his teammate, series leader and defending champion Ben Spies.
Mladin broke the 60-win mark in the most recent round in Alton, Va., and comes to Road Atlanta with a remarkable 61-career AMA Superbike victories. The determined Aussie will be seeking wins 62 and 63 in this weekend's doubleheader.
Following his 10th win of the season at VIR in the most recent event, Mladin talked about once again charging back from a rather significant points deficit.
"It's the second time we've done it this year," Mladin said. "After Daytona we had a little bit of a points gap to catch back up and we got in the lead in Road America. And then in the wet race on Sunday we gave it back again and lost a few after that. And (crashing) in Utah, we really did ourselves a lot of harm if we're thinking about championships. I'm just fighting to come back as strong as possible and win as many races as I can and see what happens at the end.
"I'm enjoying this season more than any I've had so far because it's such a good challenge to race Ben and to get the measure of him. To be honest with you, I hope we can win the next couple in Atlanta because I really want to be able to go to Laguna Seca and have it winner take all because that would just be the ultimate."
If Mladin manages to win both rounds of the Rockstar Suzuki Superbike Showdown he would establish yet another amazing record in the AMA books. A doubleheader sweep would give Mladin 12 wins this season. That would break his own mark of 11 wins set in 2005.
Mladin is the defending winner at Road Atlanta. He swept the doubleheader last year. Spies knows the stakes are getting ever higher coming into Road Atlanta.
"Obviously second isn't getting it done," he said after taking second place in both races in Virginia two weeks ago. "I'm not upset because I rode it 100% both races. Like I've said all weekend, if it's me or the bike, we didn't have something right and that's all it took. But when it came down to riding the motorcycle I rode as hard as I could both races so I'm not upset with myself."
"We had a test at Road Atlanta a week or two ago and we were both going really well. It's going to be hard to go back and find more time of what we laid down there. I think it's going to be who can go fast and save the tire because tire wear is definitely going to be an issue there. I guess this is what championships are all about. You like winning them from way out front, but whoever does win this championship is going to be a lot more excited than winning it by 30 or 40 points."
The two leading Yoshimura Suzuki riders have been so dominant, that they are in control of the championship chase with three races remaining. In spite of the series boiling down to a two-rider show, many longtime observers of the series are calling this season one of the best in history of the AMA Superbike Championship, which began in 1976.
Another big story coming into Road Atlanta is the revival of home state hero Aaron Yates. The Milledgeville, Ga., racing veteran was released by the Suzuki factory squad last year after 11 years with the team. He was picked up by the Jordan Suzuki squad, a team owned by basketball legend Michael Jordan, and has brought that team success.
Yates has twice finished on the podium this year, a very rare feat for a non-factory team. Road Atlanta is his home track and he would love to continue the success for the team.
"It's been great to join Jordan Suzuki and sort of be the underdog," Yates said. "I don't think a lot of people expected us to get podium finishes as deep as the field is in Superbike, but it shows the commitment this whole crew has to being one of the best teams out there. I'd like to go to Road Atlanta and have some good results. I've won there before and to do it again might be a tough thing, but you never know. We'll give it our best shot, that's for sure."
Jordan Suzuki announced in Virginia that Yates renewed his contract with the team for 2008.
Jamie Hacking is the other former Road Atlanta Superbike winner in the field. Hacking has been turning a lot of heads with his strong performances on the factory Monster Energy Kawasaki. He and teammate Roger Hayden will try to keep the progress going at Road Atlanta.
As the season winds down other riders will be looking to make late-season statements. Yamaha's Eric Bostrom and Jason DiSalvo, Yoshimura Suzuki's Tommy Hayden and Honda's Jake Zemke will all be aiming to close out the season with top performances as they look towards 2008. Popular Miguel Duhamel is recovering from injuries sustained in a crash while testing at Road Atlanta a couple of weeks ago. His return to racing is unknown at this time.
Besides Yates, Georgia racing fans will have another favorite son to root for in the Superbike class. Matt Lynn, of Ball Ground, will be riding the factory Ferracci MV Agusta. He comes to Road Atlanta fresh off his best finish of the season, an eighth at Virginia International Raceway.
Both AMA Superbike rounds from Road Atlanta will be televised nationally on SPEED. Saturday's race will air on Sunday at 1:00 pm Eastern and Sunday's race will receive special live coverage starting at 3:00 pm Eastern.
Advance tickets for the Rockstar Suzuki Superbike Showdown may be purchased from the Road Atlanta web site, ticket office at 770.967.6143, or 1.800.849.RACE, weekdays between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. "Super" tickets include paddock access. Tickets may be purchased at the gate on race weekends. You can visit www.roadatlanta.com for additional information.