The biggest news this past weekend was not the two Ducati victories, but rather the decision by Mat Mladin to not race at Topeka, a new track this year on the AMA tour, because of the blatantly unsafe layout of the track. In fact, Mladin issued a Richard Nixon-like “You won’t have me to kick around any more”, when he also announced his departure from the AMA at the end of this season. Amid rumours that he was contemplating going to the World Superbike Champions for 2010, Mladin issued a further statement saying that he was out of motorcycle racing completely at the end of this season.
Mladin has been the key element in the Suzuki domination of AMA Superbike over the past ten years of, teaming with Yoshimura and his crew, led by Peter Doyle, to develop a succession of unbeatable bikes. Along the way, Mladin won 6 Superbike Championships and 82 races.
Somewhat easier-going away from the tracks, Mladin is still today the toughest of competitors, in the image of other Aussie greats such as Wayne Garder and Mick Doohan, who simply refused to lose. Mladin used every technical and psychological tactic possible to crush their opponents, such as Miguel Duhamel, or even his teammates when they beat him, such as Ben Spies, who won three championships after one year of hard schooling from Mladin. When Mladin lost, he went back and worked harder, like on his fitness or three-stop strategy at the Daytona 200 when everybody had been stopping twice for decades.
Mladin always had the courage of his convictions, taking on the new as well as the old AMA, criticising the unsafe tracks and the inept decisions, and not always with great verbal elegance. He will likely win the Superbike Championship again this year, then go back to his family and his Australia to enjoy a successful business career and play with his toys.
Meanwhile, a poorer AMA Superbike field will race and think they are doing great.
It was Mat Mladin and his team who brought that greatness!
The rest did race!
Larry Pegram and his Ducati 1098R confirmed the promise shown at Daytona by winning both ends of the double header weekend, taking the whole shot and leading every lap of both races.
In the Saturday race, the torque and excellent traction of the Ducati told and Pegram remained unchallenged, with a tight group of four riders two seconds behind him.
In the second race, Tommy Hayden (Suzuki) found more traction coming out of tight corners, and pushed Pegram every step of the way, the two of them finishing 5 sec ahead of Josh Hayes (Yamaha) and 13 sec ahead of Jake Holden (Honda).
AMA Superbike – Race 1, Topeka
1. Larry Pegram (Ducati), 20 laps
2. Ben Bostrom (Yamaha), -2.184 seconds
3. Blake Young (Suzuki), -2.457
4. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki), -2.653
5. Aaron Yates (Suzuki), -3.197
6. Josh Hayes (Yamaha), -7.472
7. Jake Holden (Honda), -13.629
8. Geoff May (Suzuki), -18.164
9. Taylor Knapp (Suzuki), -34.852
10. Neil Hodgson (Honda), -36.100
AMA Superbike – Race 2, Topeka
1. Larry Pegram (Ducati), 20 laps
2. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki), -0.333 seconds
3. Josh Hayes (Yamaha), -5.845
4. Jake Holden (Honda), -13.005
5. Taylor Knapp (Suzuki), -18.988
6. Neil Hodgson (Honda), -19.432
7. Michael Laverty (Suzuki), -21.444
8. Blake Young (Suzuki), -48.944
9. Chris Ulrich (Suzuki), -63.426
10. Scott Charlton (Suzuki), -71.316
Championship Standings (After 15 of 20 races)
1. Mat Mladin (Suzuki) 390
2. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki) 307
3. Larry Pegram (Ducati) 286
4. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 281
5. Ben Bostrom (Yamaha) 273
6. Blake Young (Suzuki) 235
7. Aaron Yates (Suzuki) 214
8. Geoff May (Suzuki) 212
9. Taylor Knapp (Suzuki) 155
10. Jake Holden (Honda) 145
12. Neil Hodgson (Honda) 120
The next round will be held at Virginia International Raceway on August 14 – 16, 2009.
Photo Credit : AMA Pro Racing