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Reigning AMA Superbike champion Mat Mladin is in a familiar position as the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited moves from Daytona Beach to Birmingham, Ala., and the Barber Motorsports Park for the Honda Superbike Classic presented by McGraw Insurance Services on April 22-24.

Mladin won the season opener at Daytona International Speedway in March on his factory Yoshimura Suzuki and now hopes to continue his winning streak at the picturesque Barber track. Mladin recorded the quickest lap times in testing at the facility last month and is confident with the new Suzuki.

"I've loved the new GSX-R1000 ever since I first threw a leg over it," said Mladin, the all-time AMA Superbike wins leader. "Now we've been working on getting the bike set up to an area where I feel comfortable. We found some settings we liked when we tested at Barber a few weeks ago that made it feel good.”

This year marks the third year the AMA Superbike Championship has visited Barber. Mladin won the Sunday race at last year’s doubleheader.

Other previous Superbike winners at Barber include Miguel Duhamel, Aaron Yates and Kurtis Roberts. All three are slated to line up alongside Mladin next weekend in Birmingham.

Duhamel, the 16-year AMA racing veteran and 1995 AMA Superbike champ, passed Fred Merkel as all-time AMA Superbike wins leader in 1998 and he hopes to square Mladin, the current wins leader, atop the wins list with another victory at Barber. “We’ve made a lot of progress in recent tests,” said Duhamel of the factory Honda CBR1000RR. “I’m hoping it will translate to success at Barber. Unfortunately it seems every time we find a second Mladin finds two. I look forward to Barber. It has a nice smooth surface and is a beautiful facility. Mr. Barber could have thrown in a straightway to give us a little rest (laughs), but I’ve done well there in the past and expect to do well again this coming race. The competition in Superbike is such that you make one mistake and you could go from a podium finish to seventh or eighth. It should be a good one.”

Aaron Yates, who resides in neighboring Georgia, provided input on the design of Barber when it was being constructed so he knows every inch of the 15-turn, 2.3-mile road course. Yates is hoping to rebound in 2005 after a disappointing 2004 Superbike campaign. “We got some points and this was a better start to the racing season than last year,” said Yates after Daytona. “We've spent most of our time during the pre-season testing the Superstock bike and now we're going to focus on Superbike. With Daytona we realized the direction we want to go in."

Kurtis Roberts returns to Barber after a season in MotoGP. He’ll be getting more familiar with his Erion Racing Honda after signing with the team late and getting very little testing time.

Alabama racing fans will get their first look at former World Superbike champ Neil Hodgson. Hodgson rode his Austin Ducati to second at Daytona and is eagerly anticipating his first season in America. “Everything has been very promising,” said the likeable Brit. “I was pleasantly surprised by getting second at Daytona. I like the way the Ducati 999 is handling and making power. It should work very well on the traditional road courses here in America like Barber. I'm looking forward to racing against some very tough competition this year."

Young Texan Ben Spies has moved up to the Superbike class and is ranked third coming into the Barber doubleheader. Spies is a former Formula Xtreme Champion and holds the track qualifying records for Formula Xtreme and Superstock at Barber.

Others expected to be top runners at Barber include Honda’s Jake Zemke, who was ranked third in AMA Superbike last season. Zemke is looking for his first win at Barber. Jason Pridmore is a proven winner and now he’s riding for Jordan Motorsports Suzuki, which has become a top contender in the series this year. Basketball great Michael Jordan is the owner of the team and is expected to be on hand at Barber to watch his team. Former AMA Superbike Rookie of the Year Geoff May is gaining confidence with the Suzuki backed M4/EMGO squad and Eric Bostrom riding for Ducati Austin is hoping to regain the form that made him twice an AMA Superbike Championship runner-up.

Saturday's Superbike event will be televised nationally on SPEED Channel beginning at 4 p.m. EST on Sunday, April 24, followed by live coverage of Sunday's Superbike final at 5 p.m.

For additional ticket information on the Honda Superbike Classic presented by McGraw Insurance Services contact (205) 327-RACE or 1-800-240-2300.


April 15, 2005

AMA Pro Racing press release
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