Pike's Peak Preview

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
From an AMA press release
Pickerington, Ohio - Honda Racing's Nicky Hayden is fresh off two wins atRoad Atlanta and a five-race win streak, and will arrive at Pikes PeakInternational Raceway in Fountain, Colo., May 31-June 2 for round eight ofthe AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship presented by PartsUnlimited.

The 20-year-old from Owensboro, Ky., has a strong hold on thechampionship with 253 points and while it's still a little early to say, the80-point advantage he has on second place factory Kawasaki rider, EricBostrom, makes him a favorite for his first AMA Superbike Championship...

Pikes Peak also marks Hayden's second chance to tie his teammate MiguelDuhamel's six-consecutive win streak. The first chance came at rounds two andthree at California Speedway but Yamaha's Anthony Gobert took the first winof the double-header event. Hayden is the defending Pikes Peak Superbikewinner and with the season he's having, it's likely that he will defend histitle as well as matching Duhamel's win streak.

Speaking of Hayden's teammate, Duhamel had two superbike podiums at RoadAtlanta with a second and third for the double-header weekend. Duhamel andhis crew appear to have figured out a powerful combination in setup and tiresand it wouldn't surprise many if he is the first rider in five races to stopHayden's win streak.

Bostrom, currently residing in Las Vegas, is second in points and in anail-biting, last-lap thriller at Road Atlanta, he too is showing to be aserious threat to Hayden's win streak. Bostrom's season didn't start out theway he had hoped but as evidenced at Atlanta, things are definitely turningaround. Bostrom will arrive at Pikes Peak from England after his thirdshowing in World Superbike at the Silverstone round with the Kawasaki WorldSuperbike team.

The 2002 season has been no friend to three-time defending AMA SuperbikeChampion Mat Mladin of the Blimpie Yoshimura Suzuki team. While the injury tohis elbow at the opening round in Daytona Beach, Fla., didn't help, he ispast that and now the 30-year-old Australian has been fighting set-up andhandling gremlins with his Suzuki GSX-R750. Sitting fifth in the pointstandings, the No. 1 Suzuki rider is still hopeful that a win is right aroundthe corner.

Doug Chandler was last year's third place finisher at PPIR on a Kawasaki. Hewill return to the 1.32-mile race track looking for a repeat of last yearspodium, but this time it will be on a HMC Ducati 998. Chandler wasn't able torace the last two rounds at Road Atlanta after a crash in qualifying put himon the sidelines for the weekend.

Yamaha's Gobert will be out of racing action for at least five weeks after afall in Superbike qualifying in Atlanta left him with a broken right fibula.Also still on the injured list is Erion Racing's Kurtis Roberts. Roberts isstill recovering from an injury to his knee after falling at CaliforniaSpeedway. His doctors have advised him to sit out the PPIR round.

Blimpie Yoshimura Suzuki's Aaron Yates still leads the Pro Honda Oils U.S.Supersport point standings with 142 despite his first loss of the season atRoad Atlanta. The loss came after a race long battle with teammate JamieHacking. Yates finished third at Pikes Peak in 2001 and is looking to getback on a winning streak. Yates, along with Hacking now stand as the solefactory riders racing both supersport and superbike.

With Hacking coming off a win on his Blimpie Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R600, heknows the feeling of victory and based on the battle he fought to the end atRoad Atlanta with Yates, he can never be counted out as wanting the win justas bad as all the others.

Yamaha's Damon Buckmaster is third in the AMA Supersport point standings, andstill remains a strong contender for the championship. Road Atlanta markedhis third consecutive fourth place finish and there's no doubt that a podiumfinish is near.

Attack Suzuki's Ben Spies first year in Supersport is going well and muchlike Buckmaster, he has had three consecutive fifth-place finishes. It won'tbe long until you see this 17 year-old Longview, Texas native taking an AMASupersport podium position.

Kawasaki's Tommy Hayden was Road Atlanta's third-place finisher in thefiercely competitive class and the oldest of the three Hayden brothers, Tommyknows his way around PPIR. He is looking for a podium in this year's event ashe missed third last year by .025 seconds.

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