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Leeds, AL – April 24, 2005 – Stormy, unpredictable weather and unseasonably cool temperatures greeted the second round of the 2005 AMA Superbike series to Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Alabama. Undeterred, the factory road racing teams set about their business in calculable fashion, led by Yoshimura Suzuki’s Mat Mladin, who dominated the competition while collecting his 34th and 35th career Superbike victories. In support-class action, Honda Racing’s Jake Zemke recorded Honda’s 50th AMA Formula Xtreme win, Graves Motorsports Yamaha’s Jamie Hacking took the Supersport victory and Kawasaki Road Racing’s Tommy Hayden came out on top of the Superstock competition.



Dunlop brought nearly 1500 tires to support the factory teams and support riders in Superbike, Superstock, Formula Xtreme and Supersport competition. The Barber race track, home of the world-renowned Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, is a beautifully-designed circuit that puts significant demands on tires. Its relatively new surface is abrasive on front tires and numerous right-hand sweepers generate heat in the right-side tread of the rear tires.



Friday’s scheduled activities were dampened by wet weather that culminated with the Superbike qualifying session. Thunderstorms, hail and high winds ended the round shortly after it started, forcing the teams to focus their energies on a rescheduled, 45-minute qualifying session on Saturday morning. The 55-60 degree temperatures and sunny skies were a welcome relief, despite gusty wind conditions. Dunlop brought four front and four rear tire compound selections from which the riders could choose. Mladin set the pace throughout the session and closed out with a track-record 1:25.047 on race tires, nearly .2-tenths second faster than his 2004 record set on qualifying tires. His 39th AMA Superbike pole was evidence of just how well his team’s GSX-R1000 was running. Teammate Ben Spies was next at 1:25.954 and a tick-behind was Neil Hodgson on the Ducati Austin 999R. Mladin’s teammate Aaron Yates completed the front row.



Saturday’s inaugural race was the first of two weekend Superbike events. After a red flag on lap one brought the teams back to the pits, the second launch saw Yates grab the lead, followed closely by Mladin. By lap two, Mladin was in front for good. After reeling off several sub-1:26 minute laps, Mladin settled into a pace unmatched by the field. By lap 18 of the 28-lap race he had stretched his lead over Yates by more than 11 seconds; at the checkered flag, Mladin’s margin of victory was a comfortable 7.396 seconds. The best race action developed between Hodgson in third-place and Spies, who trailed in hot pursuit. By lap 20 they were separated by less than .2-second. On lap 23, Spies slipped by as the pair moved through traffic, assuring Suzuki of a podium sweep. “It was a good race,” Mladin said afterwards. “We thought after qualifying that we had a little bit of pace, so we wanted to try to get to the lead as quickly as possible and try and get away, and that’s what happened. That’s it. We just have a little better set-up than these guys at the moment and we were able to do it.”” Hodgson took fourth, followed by Honda’s Duhamel, Jordon Suzuki’s Jason Pridmore and Steve Rapp, and Ducati Austin’s Eric Bostrom in positions five through eight, respectively. With Mladin Motorsports’ Marty Craggill taking 10th, Dunlop riders took nine of the top 10 finishing positions.



Saturday’s second race featured the highly-modified 600cc four-cylinder and 750cc twin-cylinder machines of the Formula Xtreme class. The front row was led by Duhamel, whose 1:27.746 pole-qualifying time set the day before on his CBR600RR just nudged out teammate Jake Zemke, who was just .18-seconds off Duhamel’s pace. When the flag dropped, Zemke took the lead with Duhamel in pursuit. M4 Emgo Suzuki’s Vincent Haskovec was a close third on a GSX-R600 and the trio quickly pulled away from the rest of the field. Zemke led the first eight laps but Duhamel snuck by on the next circuit and held on for five laps before Zemke retook the lead on lap 14. Haskovec slipped between the two with three laps to go and even led briefly. The three riders continued to dice through the corners, much to the pleasure of the fans, including some last-corner contact between Haskovec and Duhamel. At the line, Zemke took his seventh Formula Xtreme career win and Duhamel slipped past Haskovec to finish .44 seconds back from Zemke. “The last lap was great,” said Zemke. “When you get three guys going, it changes everything as far as race strategy and what you want to do. Luckily I’m the guy that got to sit on top today.” Behind Haskovec were Attack Kawasaki’s Ben Attard, Yamaha-mounted Chris Paris and Pascal Picotte, and Honda Canada’s Steve Crevier in positions four through eight, respectively. Suzuki’s Chris Caylor took ninth and Ryan Andrews rode a Ducati 749R to finish 10th as Dunlop riders captured eight of the top ten positions. Duhamel leads the series with 71 points, Zemke is second with 66 and Chris Peris is third with 52 points.



Race day two dawned to a cloudless sky with even chillier temperatures. The previous day had seen Graves Motorsports Yamaha’s Jamie Hacking capture the pole position for both the Supersport and Superstock races; his Superstock qualifying time of 1:25.832 aboard a YZF-R1 was a new track record. Sunday’s first action was the 600cc Supersport class. Alongside Hacking on row one was teammate Jason Disalvo, then Kawasaki Road Racing’s Roger Lee Hayden and Tommy Hayden on ZX-6RRs. Hacking took the lead at the start, followed closely by both Haydens. A red flag on lap three brought all the riders back for a restart. On the second go-around, Hacking once again led the pack off the line, followed by Roger Lee Hayden and then Tommy Hayden. Tommy overtook brother Roger Lee on lap 12 and the trio remained tightly-bunched until Roger Lee ran wide on turn one on the next lap. With four laps to go, Hacking and Tommy Hayden put in some scorching laps; Hacking clocked a 1:28.115 on lap 13 and Hayden saved his best for the last lap, when he put in a 1:27.975 – the fastest lap of the race – in his effort to run down Hacking. Despite a last-corner challenge from Hayden, Hacking would not be denied, going wire-to-wire and crossing the finish line .579 seconds ahead of Hayden. Roger Lee Hayden was third, followed by Disalvo and teammates Aaron Gobert and Damon Buckmaster in fourth through sixth, respectively. Attack Kawasaki’s Ben Attard was eighth, Topline Yamaha’s Chris Peris was ninth and Yoshimura Suzuki’s Ben Spies was tenth as Dunlop-shod riders took nine of the top ten spots. In the series standings, Hacking and Tommy Hayden are tied at 70 points apiece, Disalvo has 56 and Gobert has 52.



The 1000cc machines of the Superstock class were next. Next to Hacking on the pole were teammates Disalvo and Buckmaster, with Suzuki’s Yates in the fourth slot. Hacking wasted no time capitalizing on his pole position, leading into the first corner from the start on his YZF-R1 with Disalvo in second and Yates in third. Disalvo took the lead on lap 10 and held on for four laps despite a fierce challenge from Hacking, who retook the lead on lap 13. Meanwhile, Kawasaki’s Tommy Hayden was closing in on his ZX-10RR from his fifth-place start, turning the fastest lap of the race on lap 12 at 1:26.952. By lap 14 he moved up to third place behind Hacking and Disalvo. The most dramatic action of the weekend then ensued as the trio raced to the flag with 3 laps to go. Hacking and Disalvo continued to challenge each other while Hayden first slipped past Disalvo, then Hacking on lap 16 to take the lead. On the final lap, Hacking ran into the grass after coming together with Disalvo; Disalvo stayed on the track but lost ground in his effort to run down Hayden, Meanwhile Hacking lost third position to Yates, who had closed from fifth on the final two laps. At the checkered flag, it was Hayden by .951 seconds ahead of Disalvo, then Yates and Hacking. Jordon Suzuki’s Steve Rapp was sixth, followed by Yamaha’s Gobert, Kawasaki’s Roger Lee Hayden and Yamaha’s Buckmaster in positions seven through nine. Overall, Dunlop riders took eight of the first ten finishes. “It was a hard race for me,” said Hayden. “With about five or six laps to go, I thought I had a really good chance to win. As we were coming up on traffic, Jamie and Jason were slowing each other up a little bit, I just tied to get in there and make something happen and it worked out.” After two rounds, the leaders are bunched in the points chase; Yates leads the series with 63 points, Vincent Haskovec is second with 62 points and Tommy Hayden has 60 points.



In the final race of the weekend, Suzuki’s Mladin picked up where he left off the day before, rocketing past a fast-starting Neil Hodgson and into the lead on lap one. From there, Mladin built a cushion that grew steadily throughout the race; by lap 25 it was 10.579 seconds and he cruised to 9.470-second victory. Hodgson held on to second until he was overtaken by Yates on lap seven and the pair remained close until Yates pulled into the pits on lap 19 to change his tire. >From that point Hodgson was unchallenged. Meanwhile Honda’s Duhamel had closed to within third after starting back in eighth position. While Duhamel did not pose a threat to Hodgson in second, Suzuki’s Spies was closing rapidly on Duhamel and the pair fought for the final podium spot on the last lap. In the end, Spies overtook Duhamel and held on to third by just .048 seconds. It was another good race for Dunlop riders, who took eight of the top ten spots. Behind Mladin, Hodgson, Spies and Duhamel came Ducati Austin’s Bostrom and Attack Kawasaki’s Josh Hayes in fifth and sixth, respectively. Yates took eighth and Mladin Motorsports’ Craggill was ninth. “It was a good race for us,” said Mladin. “I’ve got to thank my team, they’ve done a good job for us this weekend. The GSX-R1000 is unbelievable, this year we’re three for three and the Dunlop guys have really stepped up and, in the last four months, they’ve really made really made our lives a lot easier.” On the Superbike series scorecard, Mladin tops the field with 113 points, followed by Hodgson with 91 and Spies with 87.



Next stop for Dunlop and the AMA Superbike road racing tour is the California Speedway in Fontana, California, April 29 –May 1. Round two features a doubleheader for the Superbike series.

Official Dunlop Press Release
 

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bumblebee said:
Excellant race coverage Shan...almost like you were there... :dthumb: Glad you had a good time. I wish I could have been there.

That's Dunlop's official press release, I was away on business and couldn't be there. :(
 

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chev said:
I'm getting sick of watching Mladin dominate. It's getting real boring.
I agree. At least if someone was challenging him it would be one thing. However, watching Mladin run away after taking the lead in the first corner is a little boring.

Kudos to him though, he and his team obviously have that GSXR dialed in.

I just hope someone else steps it up pretty soon...
 

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Mladin has something to prove now. He feels he hasn't been invited to race MotoGP because they think he's not good enough, so he wants to stuff it in their faces.

Maybe the rest of the world of racing looks at the AMA as a joke? Perhaps they only picked up Nicky Hayden because they thought he was a fresh young American face that might get more TV Ratings from the USA, seeing as how they have a lockdown on several other countries?

If he continues to dominate like this throughout the whole season, I don't see how MotoGP couldn't take notice...
 

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Would he even want to ride the Suzuki MotoGP machine (assuming he wanted to stick with Suzuki)?? For as much as Suzuki got right on the '05 GSXR1000, they seemed to get that much and a whole lot more wrong on their MotoGP bike...
 

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I thought Mladin would've left for MotoGP a long time ago. Hell, curtis roberts went GPing and he doesnt have near the resume. How about Ben Spies. When he made a pass through traffic past Neil, he flat left him and caught up to YAtes. That kid knows how to charge.
 

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AMA is going to have to do something about the way their series is going. All the manufacturers are dancing with themselves... They need to make Superbike the main event, and superstock, supersport, and FX need to be support classes. The leaders in superbike start lapping backmarkers around lap 5. That is ridiculous! IN the WSB race this weekend, Troy Corser who was just FLYING... well he only caught up to a backmarker on the last lap (28th?). Thats because WSB has a support class, where the slower riders go... I want to see em all fighting in AMA.. And if they are so many seconds off the pace of the leaders, then they shouldnt race superbike.
 

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It was almost like the powers that be had something in mind when they revised FX and superstock.

It's like Yamaha gets superstock, Kawi gets Supersport, FX goes to Honda, and Suzuki has Superbike. Plus all use their respective championships as advertising ploys....the most shameful of which is Honda (the only factory bike on the grid in FX).
 
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