May 29, 2013
© 2014, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.
by David Swarts
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GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro National Guard Superbike Championship: Josh Hayes (4) leads Mat Mladin, Tommy Hayden (22) and Aaron Yates at New Jersey Motorsports Park in 2009. Photo courtesy of AMA Pro Racing.
Retired seven-time AMA Pro Superbike Champion Mat Mladin told Roadracingworld.com last week that he is currently working toward possibly making a comeback to professional racing with an ultimate goal of returning to AMA Pro Superbike with a top team.
Asked for his reaction to this news, three-time and defending AMA Pro Superbike Champion Josh Hayes said he hopes 41-year-old Mladin does comeback, but he also pointed out just how difficult he thinks it will be.
“I learned so much from Mat it would be great having him in the series,” Hayes told Roadracingworld.com. “At the same time, I don’t think three years at home has ever made anybody better.
“It’s going to be a hard road, but I know he’s a great rider. I think it would come down to how bad he wanted and how hard he was willing to go.
“And I think there’s a lot of if’s down the road. A lot of pieces have to fall together. If you look at the [economic] climate and the way things are, as awesome as Mat’s stats are you have to look at the economy of racing. The second-fastest guy in the country for the last couple of years [Blake Young] ended up without a [full-time] job this year. And the year before that, the arguably second- or third-fastest rider, Tommy Hayden, he ended up without a ride. And the year before that, the guy who won both Superbike races at Daytona [Jake Zemke] ended up without a ride.
“The climate of our sport right now doesn’t lend well to new blood or even old blood coming back in, especially when you’re a bit of an unknown after sitting at home for four years. I think it would be tough, but as a competitor, who wouldn’t want some good racing? And I definitely think he would add a lot of things to our series.”