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.