AMA: 'The International' brings Superbikes to Laguna Seca
27 June 2000
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Imagine you're at one of the world's most renowned road courses, situated along the beautiful California coastline. Now imagine the world's top Superbike pilots have assembled there for a race weekend. You watch as waves of current and past international champions streak by, dicing for position aboard cutting-edge machinery. Imagine no more: the McGraw Insurance International Superbike Classic presented by Dunlop will take place July 7-9, at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif. "The International" will feature the world's leading National Superbike series -- The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship -- and the pinnacle of all Superbike competition, the Federation Internationale Motocyclisme (FIM) World Superbike Championship. In addition to the on-track activities, The International will also offer a vendor midway, motorcycle displays, a kid's corral, stunt rider Gary Rothwell, the Castrol Extreme Air freestyle demos and more. During The International race weekend, the riders of the World Superbike Championship, the Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship, and five additional top-caliber AMA National series will take their turns on Laguna Seca's demanding, 2.2 mile, 11-turn road course, where racers and their machines experience a daunting 180-foot elevation change every lap. The infamous "corkscrew" turn marks Laguna Seca's literal and figurative high point, at 929 feet above sea level. The International is aptly named, given the multinational list of champions slated to enter the various races: Australian Troy Bayliss, the 1999 British Superbike Champ; Californian Ben Bostrom, the 1998 AMA U.S. Superbike Champ and current NCR team Ducati World Superbike rider; Californian Doug Chandler, a three-time AMA Superbike Champion; Australian Troy Corser, the 1994 AMA Superbike and 1996 World Superbike Champ; Canadian Miguel Duhamel, the 1995 AMA Superbike Champ and five-time AMA Pro Honda Oils 600 SuperSport Champ; Texan Colin Edwards, the current World Superbike points leader and 1992 AMA 250 Grand Prix Champ; Arkansas native John Kocinski, the 1997 World Superbike, 1990 World 250 Grand Prix and three-time AMA 250 Grand Prix Champ; Australian Mat Mladin, the 1999 AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Champ and 1992 Australian Superbike Champ; and Georgia resident Scott Russell, the 1992 AMA Superbike and 1993 World Superbike Champ. The FIM World Superbike Championship is led by Texan Colin Edwards, racing for the Castrol Honda team. A former AMA 250 Grand Prix champ and four-year veteran of the World Superbike Championship, Edwards holds a 26 point lead and has won four 2000 season races on the new Honda RC51 race bike. Aussie Troy Corser -- the 1996 World Superbike and 1994 AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Champ -- is in series second-place, having taken three wins for the Aprilia Racing team. Italian Pierfrancesco Chili is in third-place, with one win and just eight points behind Corser. Fans at Laguna Seca will also have their eyes on 1998 AMA U.S. Superbike Champ and current NCR Ducati World Superbike rider Ben Bostrom. Bostrom -- nicknamed "Captain America" in reference to his star-spangled helmet -- has recently taken a string of World Superbike podium finishes. His odds for a Laguna victory look good, as he took the checkers in race two at last year's Laguna World Superbike Championship event while competing full-time in the 1999 AMA U.S. Superbike Championship. Defending AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Champ Mat Mladin and the Yoshimura Suzuki team lead the Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship, holding a 14-point lead over Honda's young gun, 18-year-old Nicky Hayden. Mladin has 10 career Chevy Truck Superbike victories, including four this year, but he has yet to take a victory at Laguna Seca. Hayden recently earned his first career Superbike wins, taking back-to back victories at the June 9-11 Chevy Trucks Superbike doubleheader at Road America. Kentucky native Hayden has one Laguna Seca victory to his credit, having won the Lockhart Phillips USA 750 SuperSport race there in his 1998 rookie season. Kurtis Roberts -- youngest rider of the famous racing Roberts family -- leads the AMA Pro Honda Oils 600 SuperSport Series with 122 points and one victory, taken at the Daytona season opener. But Roberts and his Erion Honda team have their hands full. Five-time AMA 600 SuperSport Champ Miguel Duhamel and the factory Honda squad took the win at Road America, and now trail Roberts by just 4 points. Kawasaki's Eric Bostrom is 1 point behind Duhamel, having earned a win at Road Atlanta earlier this year. Bostrom is the younger brother of World Superbike racer Ben Bostrom. Jimmy Moore leads the AMA Lockhart Phillips USA 750 SuperSport Series for the Ricci Motorsports Suzuki team. Consistency has paid off for Moore, who has taken three podium finishes in the four 2000 season races to date. Jamie Bowman, winner of the last series race at New Hampshire International Speedway, is in series second place on his privateer Suzuki. Rookie sensation John Hopkins and the Valvoline Suzuki team are in series third-place. Hopkins has taken two wins this year, but a crash at Road America has left him lagging in the point standings. Pro Honda Oils 600 SuperSport leader Kurtis Roberts is also the reigning champion and current points leader in the AMA eSportbike.com Formula Xtreme Series, having earned 111 points and three wins. Robert's Erion Honda teammate, Josh Hayes, has taken second place at the last two races and now has 91 points. Jake Zemke is in third place with 82 points, having taken third place at the last two series races aboard the Bruce Group Honda. Jeff Nash leads the Buell Pro Thunder Series on his Advanced Motorsports Ducati, with podium finishes at every series race this year. Tom Montano -- who recently returned from racing in the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy races -- is 10 points behind Nash, holding series second-place for the Munroe Motors Ducati team, with 80 points. Reigning series Champ Shawn Conrad took the win at Daytona on his HMC Ducati, but a 21st-place result at Road Atlanta has left him in series third place, 1 point behind Montano. All three Buell Pro Thunder riders certainly see a threat in DucShop Ducati rider Mike Smith, a veteran competitor who missed the season opener at Daytona and joined the series at round two in Atlanta. Smith won the Road Atlanta race, then took the victory at Road America. He's now in fourth place with 74 points. 1999 AMA MBNA 250 Grand Prix Champ Chuck Sorensen is holding his own in this year's title race, leading the field with 122 points. Sorensen and his World Sports Yamaha team have finished on the podium at every race this season, but have yet to take a win. Sorensen's World Sports teammate, Perry Melneciuc, is in series second place, trailing Sorensen by 26 points. Quenni King and the Broward Motorsports Yamaha team follow in third place, with 88 points. But MBNA 250 Grand Prix series leaders know the other shoe is about to drop. Four-time AMA 250 GP Champ Rich Oliver is in series fifth place, the result of poor finishes at two season races. However, Oliver won the Road Atlanta and Road America rounds, and paddock insiders know it's only a matter of time until he's back in contention for the championship. Qualifying for the Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship and support classes will begin on Thursday, July 6. On Friday, July 7, the AMA Pro Honda Oils 600 SuperSport and Buell Pro Thunder Series will race, and qualifying for the Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike and World Superbike Championships will be held. Saturday July 8, will feature the 100-kilometer AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship race, and the 60-kilometer AMA eSportbike.com Formula Xtreme race, as well as final qualifying for World Superbike and AMA MBNA 250 Grand Prix heat races. Sunday, July 9, will see the running of the final World Superbike events, featuring two 100 kilometer races. The 60-kilometer AMA Lockhart Phillips USA 750 SuperSport, and MBNA 250 Grand Prix races, will also take place on Sunday. For ticket information, call (800) 327-7322 or visit www.laguna-seca.com.