Entries in AMA (9)

Thursday
Aug062009

From The Archives "Mladin The Destroyer"

This column originally appeared on May 23rd, 2001 on the original Rumblestrip.NET I thought it fitting that I repost it given Mat's announced retirement at the end of the season. Enjoy!

Mladin The Destroyer

by The Duke

On the flight back to Detroit from Atlanta Sunday night, reflecting on the weekend, I recalled Mat Mladin's words from the interview I did with him at Laguna during pre season testing - "I think we're going to win it (the championship) easier than we won it the last two years." The first two words that popped into my mind were bull and shit. With the quality and level of talent in the series there was no way that was going to happen.

While we are not quite one quarter of the way through the season, those words may yet be prophetic. With 151 possible points this far into the season, Mladin has 136. He has missed out on only 15 points all season! If he continues as he has, he is on pace to score 474 points this season!

Like Patton and the Third Army marching unstoppable across France and Germany, only forces out side his control (for Patton it was Ike, for Mladin who knows yet) can stop him at this point from victory. Like Patton, Mladin has a supporting cast that is almost unequalled. Sun Tzu said that all battles are won and lost before they ever begin. With Mladin and his band of merry marauders this is most evident. Walk by the Yosh trailer that holds Yates and Hacking's team and there is a buzz of activity, mostly due to how many times they have to repair Hacking's crash damage. Then go by Mladin's rig. While busy, there is calmness, a non-frenzied atmosphere. Mladin's crew have it easy. When was the last time they had to thrash with repairing either crash damage or motor problems? They unload and focus on setup. They are able to maximize their on track time. With Peter Doyle, Reg O'Rourke and Amar Bazzaz at his side, Mladin has assembled perhaps the strongest team since the days of Spencer and Kanamoto or Carruthers and Roberts. The only other team that I would put up against what Mladin has put together would be Eboz with Joey Lombardo and Al Ludington. However, given that Eric must run both the 600 and the Superbike, the Kawasaki effort by design can not be as focused as Mladin's.

If Mladin and crew go on and win this year's championship, then I agree with Larry Lawrence who wrote over at AMA Soup that it is time for Mat to go. What more does he have left to prove here? He should be piloting a World Superbike or be back on a GP machine, not stuck in the US.

It's a shame that he won't be racing in the WSBK round at Laguna, it would be very interesting to see how not only him but his crew stack up to some of the worlds best. It's understandable why it won't happen. Mat has been hired to win the US Championship. Why risk injury in a race that means nothing and throw away the championship here? Sure it would be great to see the Yosh bike running with "The Troys" and Captain America, but it ain't gonna happen. Factor in the expense of building and testing a bike that will need a different combination due to the use of unleaded fuel in the WSBK series, and with the potential of showing up the Alstare team.

While the Alstare team has struggled, the Yosh team has dominated. I would not discount the level of talent or support here in the US either. With the likes of "The Show" and "The Kid" and their full factory backing from Yamaha and Honda, it is certainly very close to what he would face one level up. The sad thing is, if Mat were Spanish, it would be him and not Sete Gibernau as a teammate to KRJR. Instead of the second Suzuki bike battling for 11th spot every race, as it currently is, it would be running with the front runners trying to get on the box. But I guess the Spanish sponsors, Telefonica and Fortuna, would much rather have a mid pack running Spaniard than a front runner of other nationality. Go figure. In this day and age of politics and economics in the GP, and to some extent WSBK ranks, unless you have personal sponsorship or can bring a big time sponsor with you, you can almost forget about landing the big ride unless you are the factory's darling. The days of making it on talent alone are over. For Mat to have a shot at this point he needs to bring along someone like Qantas, Fosters or maybe the Aussie Board of Tourism to help him land something. Well that's more like his agent's job, but you get the idea.

I don't care if you make seven figures or not, if there is no challenge how much fun can it be? Well, maybe enough. I have noticed that Mladin seems to have less of a severe look on his face this year. He seems to be smiling much more and even looks content on the podium. Ducati press officer Wendy Hogg, an Aussie herself, and I came up with a different phrase for his look on the box at Road Atlanta, but I'll refrain from repeating it here since I don't need Mat calling me about it. Then again, I'll probably get a call anyway, "OK mate what did it look like?" Don't get me wrong, Mladin is still a hard bastard who would bite your arm off in a nanosecond if that's what it took to win, but he doesn't look angry like he did last year. Be honest, did you ever see a picture of Mat last year where he didn't look pissed off? He had that scowl perfected to the point that no one would come within 20 feet of him. Maybe it's having a twenty six point lead this early in the season, who knows? You'd have more luck getting the answer out of the Sphinx. I often think you'd have better luck asking the magic 8 ball [Ichecked, it said "Better not tell you now" -disco]. But that's fine.

When you are at the level of people like Mladin, Rossi, Fogarty and Lawson, you are not "normal". You don't think the same way others do. You have to find new ways of keeping yourself motivated and amused. Hell, look at Anthony Gobert. In 1999 his goal was to see how fat and out of shape he could get and still win races. While he never got to the Scott Gray level of physical (un)fitness, he certainly looked like the Pillsbury Dough Boy out there. But like I said, at that level you are not "normal". This year Mladin's fun seems to come from seeing how much misinformation he can throw out about tires without someone calling him on it. At Sears he was talking about how he was using the hardest dual compound tire he could, like you'd use at Daytona. In Europe the riders use the press to psych out one another, but the press there knows what's going on. I wonder how many here are bright enough to realize how much Mat is trying to use them for his own ends.

So, who has a shot at Mladin this year? Mladin, and that's it. The way it looks here on the 23rd of May, 2001 is that the only way Mat Mladin will not be a three time AMA Superbike Champion is if he beats himself. Either by mechanical DNF, not likely, or crashing, even less likely. So what will 2002 bring? If things are right in the universe, Mat along with Nicky, Kurtis and Eboz should all be off to Europe to race in the two top series'. Mladin & Chili or Mladin and KRJR? It could happen.

 

Tuesday
Apr142009

Two Wheel Tuesday Dave Despain On Mat Mladin

Having covered Mat Mladin for over 10 years now I have always been impressed with him, as a man, and as a racer.  I have always found Mat to be very fair.  Back in 2001 at a January test at Laguna Seca I interviewed Mat for the old version of Rumblestrip.net and in transcribing the interview misquoted him.  It was interesting to actually get a call from Mat himself to ask if that is what he had said.  It turned out that he was correct and I was not.  I posed a correction to the interview and an apology for misquoting him and we were good.  In fact as long as Mat wasn't "working" he was always available for a chat, an interview or just to say hi.  It was also then that I found Mat to have a very good sense of humor.

Dave Despain who I'm going to guess hasn't always been a fan of Mat given their dust ups in the past still has great respect for the guy and says so here on a recent episode of WindTunnel.

Monday
Feb162009

DMG DOUCHEBAGGERY

There have been a few things that have really set me off about Roger Edmundson's Reign Of Terror in the last couple months.  One is minor but important, the other is just inexcusable incompetence.

 

No I'm not going to go on about the cut in purse and bonus money that was announced last week, that's just an economic reality.  Besides, did anyone think that was truly going to happen at those levels?

 

No what has me hacked off are the reassignment of race numbers from riders to teams, and the broadcast schedule for Daytona.

 

For as long as anyone can remember in motorcycle racing a number has been associated with a rider throughout many international series, including the US. As you go through the years 21 was Eddie Lawson, 34 was Kevin Schwantz, 7 was Barry Sheene, while he started out as 11, 155 became Ben Bostrom's number 69 is Nicky Hayden, 41 Nori Haga and of course 46 has been burned into out collective conscious as Valentino Rossi.

 

Now, thanks to the influence of "The Beach Front Mafia" just like NASCAR, the numbers belong to the teams.  So, for 2009 #2 won't be Jamie Hacking, it will be Ben Bostrom, except in Daytona Sportbike where he'll be #1 along with Jake Zemke,  HUH???? How can you have two number ones for a class that never existed before,  The convoluted thinking is that since Daytona Sportbike combines the FX class and the 600SS class that you combine number ones make one red and one black.

 

Seriously, are you kidding me? If you can't get something so small and basic as this right, how can we expect you to get ANYTHING right.  While some of the riders haven't spent years building a personal brand around a number like Valentino, there is still a value attached to it.  When you see #16 go buy, will you automatically associate that with Jake Zemke??  Some of the teams have been smart enough to grab the traditional numbers of the riders, Rog Hayden will still be 95, Tommy Hayden will be 22, Miguel will be 17, but many riders will have new numbers for 09.  Yes it's small, but it's all the small things that add up to big things down the road.

 

Item two is the TV schedule for Daytona.  Roger was all happy and joyful when he announced that he had a new TV deal with SPEED a few weeks ago.  What was not said is that the only coverage of Daytona will be for the 200.  No American Superbike, no SuperSport, not a bit of the new hyped SuperPole.  On Friday, March 6th at 8:30PM EST you get the 200, and that's it!  In years past we got to see ALL the support races, but no more.  Thursday the 5th at 2PM while he SuperSport race is running, SPEED is showing a replay of the NASCAR race from Las Vegas.  Then, at 3:30 when the American Superbike race is going off, SPEED will be showing Truck U.  Finally when SuperPole for the 200 is taking place, under the lights at 6:30, SPEED will be broadcasting Unique Whips!

 

Talk about your major EPIC FAIL!

 

Look, I DO understand the economic realities of TV, especially during this current economic unpleasantness, but give me a break, while the motorcycle audience isn't the largest one you have, it's your most loyal and vocal, toss us a bone here, would you mind?

Monday
Jan262009

Yosh To Run 09 AMA Superbike Series

You won't see a lot of press releases here, but this is a big one that everyone has been wondering about

 

AMERICAN SUZUKI TO RACE AMA SUPERBIKE SERIES

 

American Suzuki Motor Corporation announced today that the Rockstar Makita Suzuki Racing team will compete in the AMA Pro Racing Superbike series for 2009. 

After extensive discussions with AMA Pro Racing, American Suzuki has received
clarification of the AMA rules that will see the Suzuki GSX-R1000 on the racing grid beginning with the opening round in Daytona, Florida in March.

Road racing is an important activity at the professional and amateur levels and Suzuki uses it as much for testing and development as for sales and marketing. Its championship-winning heritage and class-leading sales prove that this competitive activity is beneficial for Suzuki as well.

Mat Mladin, six-time AMA Superbike Champion, will race his No. 7 Suzuki GSX-R1000 in the premier AMA Pro American Superbike class for Team Rockstar Makita Suzuki. Tommy Hayden will race his No. 22 Rockstar Makita Suzuki GSX-R1000 in the same class. New team member Blake Young will round out the three-man Rockstar Makita Suzuki team in the AMA Pro American Superbike class.

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