PICKERINGTON, Ohio (May 13, 2003) -- Three-time AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Champion Mat Mladin will have a chance to tie an eight-year-old AMA Superbike record when the championship visits Road Atlanta, in Braselton, Ga., May 16-18, for the...
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (May 13, 2003) -- Three-time AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Champion Mat Mladin will have a chance to tie an eight-year-old AMA Superbike record when the championship visits Road Atlanta, in Braselton, Ga., May 16-18, for the Suzuki Superbike Showdown presented by Dark Dog. Mladin and his potent Yoshimura Suzuki come into the Road Atlanta AMA Superbike doubleheader riding the crest of a four-race winning streak. If Mladin wins both rounds at Road Atlanta he will tie the AMA Superbike winning streak record of six set by Miguel Duhamel in 1995.
Since Duhamel's hot streak eight years ago only Nicky Hayden, who now rides for Honda in MotoGP, came close to matching the winning streak. Hayden finished the 2001 season with a four-race winning streak and then opened up the 2002 campaign with a victory in the prestigious Daytona 200 to push his streak to five. Aussie Anthony Gobert then stopped Hayden's streak with a victory in the first race of the 2002 Fontana doubleheader. Hayden then went on another streak after that race and won five more only to be come up short of matching the record when he crashed out of the Pikes Peak event.
Now attention turns to Mladin's run at the record. The 31-year-old Australian has looked untouchable in sweeping the recent Superbike doubleheaders at both Fontana and Sonoma, Calif., and building a solid 24-point lead in the championship. Mladin hopes his success will continue at Road Atlanta. The Suzuki ace has won three AMA Superbike races at the circuit, including sweeping the doubleheader there in 2000. In addition, Mladin moved into third on the all-time AMA Superbike wins list with his double win at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. If he sweeps Road Atlanta, Mladin would tie Fred Merkel for second on the wins list with 20 and he would appear to have a real shot of catching Duhamel's record of 26-career victories by the end of the season.
Mladin needs only one victory this weekend to become the first rider to win four Road Atlanta Superbike races. "I look forward to the race, but the record is not on my mind," said Mladin, who is in his eighth year of AMA Superbike racing. "Records are there to broken and if it happens that's great, but my focus is on the championship. We tested there (at Road Atlanta) and things went well. We're looking good for the race."
One of the bigger obstacles that could keep Mladin from matching Duhamel's winning streak record might have been Duhamel himself. The cagey veteran won the season opener at Daytona and was keeping close to Mladin in the series standings, but he suffered a crash in the Pro Honda Supersport race presented by Shoei at Infineon and broke his collarbone. Duhamel, a former winner at Road Atlanta, had surgery on the collarbone and is hoping to compete at Road Atlanta although he certainly won't be feeling 100 percent.
Mladin's Yoshimura Suzuki teammate, Aaron Yates is second in the standings coming into his home race. Hailing from Milledgeville, Ga., Yates has raced at Road Atlanta since his club racing days. He would love nothing more than to finally win an AMA Superbike event at his home circuit.
Ben Bostrom is third in the series in his first year back in the AMA Superbike Championship after three seasons in World Superbike. Bostrom says he's finally starting to get the feel of the Honda RC51 and expects winning results soon. A strong podium finish from the prior round at Infineon Raceway supports that claim. Ben's younger brother Eric is fourth in the standings on his factory Kawasaki. Eric finished runner-up to Nicky Hayden in Sunday's race at Road Atlanta last year.
Kurtis Roberts is returning to Road Atlanta after missing last year's event due to injury. Roberts is still trying to earn that elusive first AMA Superbike win. The son of the legendary Kenny Roberts knows what it takes to win at road Atlanta. He won a Formula Xtreme race there in 2000.
In addition to Yates, Georgian fans will have two up-and-coming local riders to root for in the Superbike races at Road Atlanta. Geoff May, of Alpharetta, Ga., comes into the race 14th in the series standings. May rides for Team Embry Suzuki. And last year's AMA Superbike Rookie of the Year Brian Livengood, of Snellville, Ga., is 20th in the standings coming into next week's race.
Both Saturday and Sunday's Superbike races will be shown live at 2 p.m. EST on Speed Channel. Tickets are available at www.RoadAtlanta.com or by calling 1(800) 849-RACE.
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.
About AMA Pro Racing
AMA Pro Racing is the leading sanctioning body for motorcycle sport in the United States. Its properties include the AMA Supercross Championship, the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championship, the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship, AMA Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championship and the AMA Red Bull Supermoto Championship. Nearly 2 million race fans attended AMA Pro Racing events during the 2002 season. For more information about AMA Pro Racing, visit www.amaproracing.com.