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Supersport Pikes Peak preview

Seven riders within 20 points in the Championship point standings PICKERINGTON, Ohio (May 23, 2003) --The Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei at Pikes Peak International Raceway on June 1, might be one of the best races of...

Seven riders within 20 points in the Championship point standings

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (May 23, 2003) --The Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei at Pikes Peak International Raceway on June 1, might be one of the best races of the year. Traditionally Supersport has been one of the closest racing series in all of AMA racing. Throw in the fact that the nimble handling Supersport machines and their determined riders will be duking it out on the twisty 1.3-mile bullring circuit that is Pikes Peak and that the top seven riders are within 20 points in the championship as the season draws to the midway point, and you have the ingredients of an instant classic.

Yamaha teammates Jamie Hacking and Damon Buckmaster are tied atop the standings. Hacking had a commanding lead in the series before a crash at the most recent round at Road Atlanta caused him to finish 21st. Until that point Hacking had won two straight and was looking nearly invincible. Now the South Carolinian will have to regroup and see if he can rally to stay in front of the series. Hacking won at Pikes Peak, on a Yamaha, in 2000.

Buckmaster is still waiting to win his first AMA Supersport race. The one thing the Aussie rider has been in the series this year is consistent. He's taken two runner-up finishes, a fourth and a sixth. That consistency has paid off with a share of the series lead -- the first time he's ever led this series. Look for Buckmaster who won a Superstock race at Pikes in 2000, to make a serious run at taking his first Supersport victory.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in Supersport racing this season has been the performance of young Ben Spies. The 18-year-old former AMA Horizon Award winner has gotten better with each outing on his factory Suzuki and at Road Atlanta he broke through to earn his first career AMA Supersport win. All of this has been on a machine that many called outdated compared to the newly designed Supersport bikes put out by the other three manufacturers this year. That victory moved him to within five points of Hacking and Buckmaster. Spies' Yoshimura Suzuki is best known for its quick handling, so the twisty PPIR course could play right into his hand.

Look for Tommy Hayden to move up the ladder in the standings after Pikes Peak. The Kawasaki pilot loves this type of racetrack and he is the defending winner. The same can be said for Honda's Miguel Duhamel. He's still recovering from a collarbone injury suffered early in May at Infineon Raceway, but Duhamel has come back strong from injury before and he's a proven winner at Pikes Peak.

Doug Chandler is ninth in the standings coming into this weekend's race, but the veteran rider from Salinas, Calif., has long been a favorite at this track. He won his last AMA Superbike race here in 1999. If he manages to break through with a victory this week it would mark his first AMA Supersport win since 1998. Yamaha's Aaron Gobert and Jason Disalvo and Honda-mounted Jake Zemke all are within striking distance of the championship, too, and will be doing everything possible to move up in the points in this pivotal race.

The Pikes Peak Supersport race will be shown live on Speed Channel Saturday, June 1 at 2 p.m. EST. For ticket information for the event call (888) 306-7223 or visit the website 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.

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Series AMA
Drivers Miguel Duhamel , Tommy Hayden , Jamie Hacking , Doug Chandler , Damon Buckmaster , Jake Zemke , Ben Spies , Jason Disalvo , Aaron Gobert