DUBLIN, Ohio (July 22, 2003) - With just three events left on the American Motorcyclists Association (AMA) U.S. Superbike Tour, championship points are as scarce as ever. Hosting a Wiseco Superbike 100 doubleheader as well as Supersport, ...
DUBLIN, Ohio (July 22, 2003) - With just three events left on the American Motorcyclists Association (AMA) U.S. Superbike Tour, championship points are as scarce as ever. Hosting a Wiseco Superbike 100 doubleheader as well as Supersport, Superstock, 250 Grand Prix and Formula Xtreme races, the Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire will determine the fate of a number of racers at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, July 25-27.
Mid-Ohio will host rounds 13 and 14 of the 18-round AMA U.S. Superbike Tour, and if the first 12 event are any indication, the competition will be fierce throughout the weekend. Just 36 points separate first through fifth place positions and a scant 6 points separate leader Mat Mladin from Eric Bostrom, his closest competitor.
Mladin, a three-time U.S. Superbike champion, has managed to take the checkered flag in 7 races thus far. Those seven races make up the bulk of the Australian's 356 championship points, with no other top-5 finishes in the 2003 season.
"(I) Can't wait to get to Mid-Ohio," said Mladin. "We got the points lead back which was good and we're now looking forward to the double-header weekend there. We need to try and win a couple more races and work on increasing that points gap."
Eric Bostrom, the series' most consistent rider in 2003 with 12 top-5 finishes and wins at Pikes Peak and Road America, has had success at Mid-Ohio before. Bostrom capitalized on a fast start in last year's first Wiseco Superbike 100 to hang on for the win, and is hoping for more of the same at this year's event.
Third-place Aaron Yates is searching for his first AMA Superbike title after capturing the Supersport class crown in 2002, and a pair of wins at Mid-Ohio would help that goal tremendously.
"This is something I've been working towards my whole career," said Yates, whose best finish in AMA Superbike was third in 2000. "Mid-Ohio is a track I like a lot and if I could manage another sweep of the doubleheader there like I did in 2000 then I have a good chance of leaving with the series lead."
Three Honda riders remain very much in the hunt at fourth, fifth and sixth place in the points chase. Miguel Duhamel, whose season was slowed early in the year with a broken collarbone following a spill at Infineon Raceway, lies in sixth place. Duhamel started the year with a win in the prestigious Daytona 200 before the accident, and comes to Mid-Ohio with seven career wins on the 2.4-mile circuit.
Ben Bostrom is a former AMA Superbike champion who has returned from competition in World Superbike to compete for the U.S. title for Honda in 2003. With 320 points and ten top-10 finishes, a win or two at Mid-Ohio would vault the elder Bostrom brother back into the thick of the championship fight as well.
The Honda rider with perhaps the most to prove is Kurtis Roberts. Roberts, still searching for that elusive first career Superbike win, currently sits in fourth place and is climbing in the standings. Roberts has won at Mid-Ohio before, on a Formula Xtreme bike in 2000 and in the 1998 250 Grand Prix race.
Many of the support series championships could be influenced at the Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire as well. With four wins this season, including a recent win at Leguna Seca, Jamie Hacking leads the AMA Supersport class with 252 points. Teammate Damon Buckmaster is looking for his first win of the 2003 season and a way to inch closer to Hacking in the standings.
The Superstock class provides the closest action at the top of the championship, with just two points separating leader Josh Hayes and third-place Vincent Haskovec. Tommy Hayden, brother of 2002 AMA Superbike Champion Nicky Hayden, sits just between the two riders with three wins this season. Hayden won the 1999 Superstock race (then called 750 SuperSport) at Mid-Ohio. Steve Rapp, who has won two of the last three races, is trying to climb back into the hunt after missing three early-season races.
The battle in the final season of 250 Grand Prix competition is only for second place, as Rich Oliver has captured all 8 races run so far in 2003 and can mathematically clinch the championship this weekend at Mid-Ohio. The only question remaining is whether the four-time 250 GP champion can sweep the entire season.
19-year-old Texan Ben Spies is currently on top of what has been a back-and-forth battle for the Formula Xtreme championship after a win at Laguna Seca propelled the youngster to a seven point lead over Damon Buckmaster, last year's Formula Xtreme winner at Mid-Ohio. The battle is far from a two-man race, however, with Josh Hayes, Jake Zemke and Adam Fergusson all within striking distance of the championship.
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is located approximately halfway between Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio off of Interstate 71. Commonly referred to as the "Most Competitive in the U.S.", Mid-Ohio hosts six events throughout the summer, beginning with the Sprint Vintage Grand Prix and including the Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire and the Valvoline Runoffs®, September 15-21. For event information and tickets, call 1-800-MID-OHIO or visit www.midohio.com.