Mladin wins AMA Superbike race in Laguna Seca
Mat Mladin concluded the current era of AMA Superbike competition with a convincing victory at Laguna Seca on Sunday afternoon. While far from a nail-biting dogfight to the checkered flag, his conquering ride was perhaps a fitting finale with a series overhaul due in 2009.
|Matt Mladin dominated|
After all, the Rockstar Makita Yoshimura Suzuki ace is the leading race winner (72) and pole sitter (55) in series history, and he upped his tally in both categories this weekend. The Australian also orchestrated yet another inch-perfect, lopsided victory from pole as he'd done so many times over the years.
The contest was also an appropriate final chapter to the great rivalry between Mladin and teammate Ben Spies. The two have proven to be almost perfectly matched adversaries, but somewhat surprisingly, they rarely duked it out on the track. One rider typically tore off from the start with the other failing to recover from a less than ideal launch. Such was the case again today, as three-time class champion Ben Spies suffered a poor start and spent the early laps dicing up past the likes of Yamaha USA's Eric Bostrom, American Honda's Neil Hodgson and Miguel DuHamel, and finally third works Suzuki rider Tommy Hayden.
Once Spies had made his way up to second, Mladin had already cleared off, so the champ picked up yet another top-two result as he's done with unprecedented frequency during his historic four-year run in the AMA Superbike class.
Mladin took the checkered flag with a 12.581-second margin of victory at the conclusion of the 28-lap race.
"It was a good race for us," Mladin said. "Obviously we had a good start and put our heads down and put in some good laps. I understand it's Ben's last race here so I certainly wanted to send him off with a win. I tried hard and it's good to get the win here at Laguna, a track he does very well at. We maybe got this place sorted out finally, after 13 years."
Runner-up Spies remarked, "We made a lot of passes so it was pretty fun. I just didn't get off the line that great. By the time we got into second, I could see the pace he was running, and the gap we had -- I'm not superhuman so there is no way that was going to happen. We just made it out Sunday farewell cruise. It was a good race and I had a lot of thoughts. I actually had a lot of fun riding out there. I'm looking forward to everything that's coming up."
Hayden did his part in the sendoff as well, claiming his ninth podium of the season and underlining the factory Suzuki team's overwhelming dominance in recent years.
Hayden passed Jordan Suzuki's Aaron Yates with two laps to go when the Georgian slowed as he struggled with a broken footpeg. Yates managed to hold on for fourth.
Hodgson completed the top five on his American Honda CBR1000RR, followed by Bostrom and DuHamel and Bostrom's teammate, Jason DiSalvo.
|Top-3 riders celebrate on the winners podium|
Monster Energy Kawasaki sub Jordan Szoke aced Team ESP's Chris Peris in the final corner to steal away ninth.
Spies finished the 2008 AMA Superbike Championship campaign with 652 points to secure his third consecutive title victory. The Texan is widely tipped to be headed overseas next season with an announcement expected in a matter of days.
Mladin finished as the runner-up at 557 followed by DiSalvo, a distant third with 463 points.
||Aaron W. Yates
||Isle Of Man,
||Las Vegas, NV
||Jordan M. Szoke
||Matt D. Lynn
||Ball Ground, GA
||San Diego, CA
||Carmel Valley, CA
||Jeffrey S. Tigert
||Johnny Rock Page
||Michael F. Barnes
||Boca Raton, FL
||Lake Elsinore, CA
||Ryan D. Elleby
||Powder Springs, GA