AMA: Full-On MBNA Superbike Tour at Honda Challenge of Laguna Seca
15 April 1998WESTERVILLE, Ohio -- On April 17-19, the American Motorcyclist Association's MBNA Superbike Tour will arrive at the Honda Challenge of Laguna Seca, bringing all six hard-charging race series and a complete program of heat races, qualifying and full-on race action.
Fans have waited patiently since the MBNA Superbike Tour's last date at Daytona International Speedway six weeks ago. In the MBNA Superbike series, two Australians -- Vance & Hines Ducati pilot Anthony Gobert and Yoshimura Suzuki ace Mat Mladin -- are tied for series first-place. The Laguna Seca showdown may be one of the most important races of both their careers, but Gobert and Mladin will also have to contend with Muzzy Kawasaki rider and three-time MBNA Superbike Champion Doug Chandler. Chandler is no stranger to Laguna Seca, and a win there would put him on top of the MBNA Superbike point standings. Chandler demonstrated his mastery of the challenging Laguna Seca road course last season, taking the win by a 12-second margin over second-place finisher Mat Mladin.
While the MBNA Superbike series offers an opportunity to watch many of the world's best Superbike riders demonstrate their talent and tenacity, riders in five other race series will also have their turn at Laguna Seca.
Having taken the checkers at both the 1998 Phoenix and Daytona Teamline 750 SuperSport rounds, Hypercycle Suzuki rider and 1997 Champion Jason Pridmore was leading this year's Teamline 750 SuperSport series. But Pridmore forfeited the points from his Daytona win when his motorcycle failed a post-race technical inspection. To make matters worse, Pridmore crashed later that weekend while competing in the Daytona 200 MBNA Superbike round. Now ranked 11th in the season point standings, Pridmore, of Ventura, Calif., has made significant progress in recovering from his injured wrist and broken collarbone, and will attempt to reclaim his place at the top of the Teamline 750 SuperSport Series. Suzuki rider Rich Alexander moved into first place after Pridmore's disqualification, but even Pridmore bears no grudge against him. A resident of Carmel, N.Y., Alexander gave a great performance at the Daytona Teamline 750 SuperSport race, managing a third-place finish while riding with injuries incurred in a crash a few days prior to the race.
Doug Chandler will have to pull double-duty at Laguna Seca. He'll be busy trying to win the MBNA Superbike round and the Pro Honda Oils 600 SuperSport race as well. Chandler, of Salinas, Calif., won the first two 1998 Pro Honda Oils 600 SuperSport rounds in Phoenix and Daytona. Canadian Steve Crevier is holding series second place for the Yoshimura Suzuki team.
World Sports Yamaha rider Chuck Sorensen is atop the Elf Race Fuels and Lubricants Grand Prix series. Sorensen, of Discovery Bay, Calif., won the season opener in Phoenix and placed on the podium in Daytona. Moto Liberty Honda rider and Japanese national Takahito Mori won the last round in Daytona, and is ranked second overall in the Elf Race Fuels and Lubricants Grand Prix series.
Shawn Higbee leads the Progressive Insurance Pro Thunder series. Higbee won the season opener in Phoenix and gave Buell motorcycles their first AMA national win. Higbee, of Waterford, Wis., also took second-place at Daytona. Paul Harrell, of Canyon Country, Calif., has kept his Triumph in second place. Former 500cc motocross Champion Chuck Sun plans to race a Husaberg in the Progressive Pro Thunder race at Laguna Seca.
Round two of the 1998 Pirelli Formula Xtreme series will also be held at Laguna Seca. Granada Hills, Calif., resident Eric Bostrom won the season opener in Phoenix and leads the series aboard the Erion Racing Honda. Bostrom's Teammate, Tripp Nobles, of Macon, Ga., holds series second-place.
Tickets and information for the Monterey, Calif., Honda Challenge of Laguna Seca are available at (800) 327-SECA (7322). Fans can check in on scores and daily pit notes during the MBNA Superbike races at the Honda Challenge of Laguna Seca via AMA Directlink at www.ama-cycle.org.