Wild Weekend of AMA Racing

Sean Alexander
by Sean Alexander
For those of you who didn't catch the AMA Superbike Doubleheader from Road Atlanta, you missed several hair raising moments, some suprise winners, a great almost-save and more than a few crashes.

No doubt the most memorable image from the weekend was Mr. Mladin's rear Dunlop tire exploding at 170mph. When I say explode, I mean EXPLODE! it went from Fine -to- F#@K'd in 0.00021 seconds. Mladin was well in the lead of Saturday's Superbike race and could've easily lost his life. Instead of panicing, though, he kept cool and did his best to ease the bike through the transition to grass and then into the gravel trap, where he ultimately flopped over at around 15mph. He was not injured and tried to get the bike back to the pits, but the tail section was destroyed and the bike wouldn't continue under its own power. Aaron Yates inherited the lead and went on to win the race.

On Sunday, Mladin got a poor start and ended up struggling with a foggy and dirty visor. He was able to straighten it out before the 1/2 way mark though and he charged through the field to take the lead and win the race.

Surprise winners for the weekend included:
Aaron Yates-Suzuki (Superbike Race 1)
Ben Spies-Suzuki (600 Supersport)
Jamie Hacking-Yamaha (Formula Extreme)
Vincent Haskovec-Suzuki (Superstock)

Ok enough of my drivel, here are a few Press Releases from the weekend:

AMA Superbike Championship, Braselton, GA.

Saturday, May 17, 2003~
Anthony Gobert and the Parts Unlimited Ducati Austin team finished a hard-fought fourth place in Saturday's AMA Chevy Trucks US Superbike race. Under warm conditions and under the threat of rain, Gobert put his head down and rallied late in the event. The "Go Show" passed Ben Bostrom, the former
Superbike champion, to earn the solid finish in the 25 lap race.

"I wanted the bike set up for soft for damp conditions and that's why I went back after the first few corners," said Gobert, who led the race off the line. "With a full fuel load and soft settings, the bike was bottoming out, but as the fuel load lightened, it got better. To get Bostrom back, to make a pass for position when it counted, felt really good."

"The guys worked have worked really hard and the Parts Unlimited Ducati Austin guys deserve a lot of credit. They stuck by me and I stuck by them," said Gobert, a former Road Atlanta race winner. "We seem to be working well together. Everything is coming around for us now. It would be nice to get a podium tomorrow."

Ducati Austin is marketed by OMS Sports, a global, full-service sport marketing agency specializing in athlete and motorsports team representation, strategic marketing partnerships, industry relations, licensing and merchandising opportunities in the world of Extreme Personal Powersports. For more information, contact Fred Bramblett at (859) 653-9585.


HONDA RACING INFORMATION - AMA Superbike Championship Results, Road Atlanta

Weather: Warm overcast
Temperature: 24 degrees
Crowd: 19,0000

Double Podium for American Honda at Road Atlanta

Erion Honda's Kurtis Roberts, almost fully recovered from injuries suffered in a motocross accident less than a month ago, scored a pair of podium placings in the AMA Superbike double-header held in humid and threatening conditions at Road Atlanta, just north of Atlanta, Georgia. Roberts rode his Honda RC-51 to a third place finish on Saturday, his best finish since finishing third in the Daytona 200, and third again on Sunday, this time less than a second behind the second placed rider, Kawasaki's Eric Bostrom, who'd also finished second on Saturday.

Eric's brother Ben, of American Honda, had a frustrating weekend, finishing fifth both days, but for different reasons. On Saturday he gambled on a rear tire choice that ultimately proved unproductive. Sunday Bostrom suffered from vision problems. High heat and humidity fogged up his faceshield, a common frustration throughout the field, and he was riding blind. Just as he was making a move toward the podium, the race was brought to a halt by a red flag, and he was given fifth, less than a tenth of a second out of fourth.

Teammate Miguel DuHamel, despite having a different helmet brand, suffered the same fate. For DuHamel it was particularly hurtful since he was riding with a collarbone that he'd broken less than two weeks earlier in the previous AMA race. Saturday he was slowed by a tire vibration and Sunday his vision was obscured. Tire problems forced DuHamel, and a number of others, to search for a different construction, which made him tentative in the early going on Sunday.

The three Honda riders were just off the podium in the Saturday's Superbike race when disaster struck the race leader, Suzuki's Mat Mladin. Speeding down the back straight at around 290 kph, Mladin suffered a rear tire blow-out on the 11th of 25 laps. Mladin wrestled the machine to a stop, slowing to a near stop 125 meters before tipping over at low speed. The fallout would affect the Honda trio.

Firstly, it put Kurtis Roberts into third, earning him his second podium of the season. Secondly it ended the charge of Miguel DuHamel. DuHamel's crew chief, Al Ludington, radioed the veteran French-Canadian to let him know about the tire problem, and that he was on the same compound tire. DuHamel immediately backed it down to finish a cautious 11th. Ben Bostrom had a tire problem of a different sort. The former World Superbike campaigner tried a different rear tire, and gambled on set-up, but knew he was doomed from the start.

The race was won by Aaron Yates (Suzuki), a local rider from Georgia with extensive experience at the track. It was his first AMA professional win at his home track. Ben Bostrom's brother Eric was second with Roberts third.

Sunday the air was thick with humidity, with the threat of thunderstorms, and almost everyone in the field, including the eventual winner, Suzuki's Mat Mladin, complained of visor fogging.

Kurtis Roberts took the lead on the third of 25 laps, holding off Mladin until the seventh when Roberts dropped to second, a spot he held until the 15th lap when he fell to third, where he'd finish.

Bostrom was with the leading quintet, despite his vision troubles. In the final laps he was making a run toward the podium when the race was stopped.

DuHamel had less success. From the start he was nearly sightless and riding with one arm. His left collarbone was so sore that he opted out of the early Pro Honda Oils Supersport race, won by Suzuki's Ben Spies. Erion Honda's Alex Gobert was fourth in a race that had been led by his teammate Roger Lee Hayden.

Kurtis Roberts, Third Place, Saturday
If we run like today, we're going to get our ass kicked again. I'm with Eric [Bostrom] on the new section. I hate it. I'm losing so much time through there it's sick. It's hurting my arm with my shoulder that I hurt a few weeks ago and it just wrecks the racetrack. It had a nice flow and everything before. If we can just figure out how to get through there without losing a second, I think we'll be right there with the guys. I'm really struggling with whatever it may be. May arm is not as strong as it was, so it gets tired out there. I'd say I'm about 80 or 90 percent right now. I'm fine on the rest of the racetrack, it's just a struggle throwing that thing around on the new section.

Kurtis Roberts, Third Place, Sunday
It's still a bit tough for me , the new section. I just can't get through there as well as these guys can and I have to make up the rest of the lap for all the ground I lose there. It's the same thing. We all had to change tires because I was on the same one that Mat [Mladin] used yesterday. We switched today and my bike wasn't hooked up as well as it was all weekend. Maybe the track temperature was a little too cold or something, but it went as well as it could have today. Mat was riding well, as was Eric [Bostrom]. I close up on Eric there and then we got the yellow and red flags, so that was kind of disappointing, but I did as well as I could have today.

Ben Bostrom, Fifth Place, Saturday
I just picked the wrong tire. I picked a strange Japanese tire. That was the end. On the first lap I knew it. I couldn't flick it into the corner. Unbelievable. I'm totally out of this race. I took a couple of laps on it in practice and that tire was fine. I put this one on and it was crap. I gambled on the bike a little bit too. I made it a little bit too nervous. Usually we'll gamble to make it steer better, but I couldn't hang on to the thing. Plus that rear tire was exceptionally bad. I messed up. I knew we were out of the race. It's heartbreaking. And the race is 100 lapper. I didn't want to start the race in the first place like that. It just wouldn't end. I swear to God, when he threw the crossed flags, I thought, Is that the checkers? because I've been out here a long time.

Ben Bostrom, Fifth Place, Sunday
We had a good bike, good tire, it was my own fault. I went to open vents on my helmet and I had a bunch of water inside. The first half of the race I couldn't see real well. So I was pretty tentative racing with those guys. So I thought I better flip this thing open. So I opened it and the second half of the race I just had the wind and it kind of distorts your vision and it's hard to get in there. I had a few clean passes and I couldn't even stick them. It was my own fault. I'll talk to the guys about it. Tell them to put a vent on top of the helmet.

Miguel DuHamel, 11th Place, Saturday
I was entertaining the thought of giving Kurtis (Roberts) a run for his money. Then over the radio, Al (Ludington) told me what happened to Mat (Mladin), told me I was on the same tire. Asked me if I had a vibration. I said, "Yes, I do have a vibration." I just shut her down and just tried to ride around. I was trying to the best I could. The place I was losing the most time was down the back straight. I was only 9,000rpm in sixth gear. The thing goes up to 12,000 almost. And that's a big difference. That's where those guys were making time. They'd pass me and I'd follow them all the way back to that turn and I'd think, there's no way I'm going wide open here. Even on the last lap they were not that far away from me.

Miguel DuHamel, Ninth Place, Sunday
I just couldn't see out of one eye. But we had a new tire on the rear, even when the track was pretty dry and I was sliding quite a bit. I didn't know if we went too soft. So I took it easy until half-race and then I tried to step it up a little bit. And I saw Anthony (Gobert) coming back to me. And I'm pretty sure I would have got him. Any problem he had was quite a bit bigger than what I had. I would've gotten eighth maybe. My pinkie is still numb, the left side of my hand is numb from this morning. I don't know why. The race was OK. Our goal was just to make this weekend and get out of here safe and sound and points on top of it.

Saturday Superbike Race:
1. Aaron Yates (Suzuki)
2. Eric Bostrom (Kawasaki)
3. Kurtis Roberts (Honda)
4. Anthony Gobert (Ducati)
5. Ben Bostrom (Honda)
6. Larry Pegram (Ducati)
7. Jordan Szoke (Suzuki)
8. Michael Barnes (Suzuki)
9. Geoff May (Suzuki)
10. Shawn Higbee (Suzuki)

Sunday Superbike Race:
1. Mat Mladin (Suzuki)
2. Eric Bostrom (Kawasaki)
3. Kurtis Roberts (Honda)
4. Aaron Yates (Suzuki)
5. Ben Bostrom (Honda)
6. Jason Pridmore (Suzuki)
7. Larry Pegram (Ducati)
8. Anthony Gobert (Ducati)
9. Miguel DuHamel (Honda)
10. Shawn Higbee (Suzuki)

AMA Championship Point Standings:
1. Aaron Yates (214)
2. Mat Mladin (212)
3. Eric Bostrom (202)
4. Ben Bostrom (194)
5. Kurtis Roberts (189)
6. Miguel DuHamel (163)
7. Larry Pegram (148)
8. Shawn Higbee (141)
9. Vincent Haskovec (127)
10. Jason Pridmore (125)

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