AMA Superbike Riders Ready for Sears Point

Calvin Kim
by Calvin Kim
SONOMA, Calif. - Race fans will double their pleasure at this year's AMASupercuts Superbike Challenge, presented by Honda of Milpitas, as Sears Point Raceway will hostits first-ever doubleheader in the U.S. Chevy Trucks Superbike Championship series.

It will be twice the fun and twice the excitement as top stars like three-time AMA Superbikechampion Mat Mladin and defending Sears Point Raceway champion Anthony Gobert battle on thetwisting road course in two 26-lap main events when the series visits the scenic Sonoma Valley,May 3-5. One main event will be held on Saturday, and the second feature will be contested onSunday.

"We're pleased to bring a doubleheader round of racing to Sonoma, which we believe is a realhotbed for the AMA," said Scott Hollingsworth, CEO of AMA Pro Racing. "The motorcycle fans ofNorthern California are in for a great weekend of racing when we come out there."

Fans will enjoy Sears Point Raceway's first-ever doubleheader in a completely refurbishedfacility, complete with scenic hillside terrace seats above Turns 2-4 and 7-9, astate-of-the-art grandstand at start/finish, underground pedestrian tunnels and a new system ofroadways and shuttle buses to help ease congestion around the raceway.It's hard to predict who will come out on top at Sears Point Raceway, but Mladin has to beconsidered one of the heavy favorites. The native of Australia won his third consecutive AMASuperbike championship in 2001, becoming just the second rider in AMA history to win threestraight titles, joining Fred Merkel (1984-86).

Mladin will make history if he can win his fourth championship in 2002, and the road to thetitle comes through Sears Point Raceway, a circuit Mladin is quite familiar with. He won the AMASuperbike event here in 1999 and qualified on the pole before finishing fourth a year ago aboardhis Suzuki. Overall, Mladin has 14 career Superbike victories, tying him for fifth all-time withScott Russell and Eddie Lawson.

"I really have to thank Suzuki for helping me with my success in the Superbike series," Mladinsaid. "It's a team effort and I happen to have the best team behind me."

If Mladin reaches the podium at Sears Point, he will have to go through fellow AustralianGobert. Gobert shocked the industry last year with his electrifying victory at Sears PointRaceway, out-dueling Honda's Nicky Hayden on the final lap before a record crowd. It wasYamaha's first Superbike win since 1998, and it's first at Sears Point Raceway since 1985.Gobert also won the 600 Supersport race for a clean sweep of the weekend.

Hayden is likely to be another top contender when the series visits Sears Point Raceway. TheKentucky native was on fire at the close of the 2001 season, winning four of the last fiveSuperbike races. He has started the season with wins at Daytona (Fla.) and Fontana (Calif.) andleads the standings after the first two stops. He has also finished second and third in pointsthe last two years and is gunning for the AMA Superbike crown in 2002. Honda teammate MiguelDuhamel will also be a factor as many consider him the "King of Sears Point Raceway" with arecord four victories.

In addition to Superbike, the weekend will also feature AMA action in 600 Supersport, 750Supersport, 250 Grand Prix and Formula Xtreme. Action gets under way on Friday of race weekendwith qualifying.

Thanks to Sears Point Raceway for this release.

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Calvin Kim
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