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AMA: Mladin crowned AMA Chevy Trucks US Superbike Champion

4 October 2000

     PICKERINGTON, Ohio --  Australian Mat Mladin will retain the coveted AMA

Chevy Trucks U.S Superbike Championship No. 1 plate for at least one more year.

     Mladin, 28, earned his second consecutive Superbike title Sunday by

finishing a points-protecting eighth place on his Suzuki GSXR750 in the season

finale held at Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond, Calif. Mladin edged out

challenger Nicky Hayden by 5 points (388 to 383) in the final season tally.

     "Since I won the championship last year, I really focused early in the year

on winning races," Mladin said. "I knew the championship would fall into place

if I kept winning. We built up a big enough lead that I was fortunate enough to

be able to back off a bit towards the end, but I was very happy with the way

things went this year. Nicky (Hayden) came in and was a tough competitor, and

I'm sure it will be another good contest next year."

     In notching his second Superbike title, Mladin had his most impressive

season since coming to race in America in 1996.

     He started the year with a thrilling victory in the prestigious Daytona 200

over Honda's Nicky Hayden by a mere 11/100ths of a second. It proved to be the

second-closest finish in the history of the race, which dates back to 1937. It

also marked the first time an Australian won America's top motorcycle race.

     Confident after his Daytona victory, Mladin won the next two Superbike

rounds in the doubleheader event at Road Atlanta, thus earning the title of 'Big

Kahuna.' He won again in the Loudon (N.H.) Classic to open his lead in the

series. Mladin's hot streak cooled a bit in the second half of the season, but

he still managed to earn four podium finishes in the final six rounds. In

addition, Mladin was the top Superbike pole winner this season, setting the

fastest lap in qualifying four times.

     This season firmly established Mladin in the AMA record books. He became

only the sixth rider to earn back-to-back AMA Superbike championships; he moved

from 13th to a tie for ninth with Mike Baldwin on the all-time Superbike wins

list with 10-career victories; and he moved from eighth to tie for third on the

all-time Superbike pole winners list -- he and Wayne Rainey have 15 each.

Mladin's win marked the fifth Superbike title for Suzuki.

     Mladin began racing motocross as a teenager before switching to road racing

and earning the Australian Superbike championship by the time he was 19. He then

competed in the 500cc Grand Prix World Championships on the factory Cagiva team.

He almost lost his foot in a ultra-light aircraft accident and, despite the

advice from doctors, continued to race after he recovered. Yoshimura Suzuki

hired Mladin to race in the U.S. in 1995, and with the exception of 1997 when he

rode for Fast by Ferracci Ducati, Mladin has been with Suzuki.