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Feb 5, 2003

Mladin Leads Superbike Times At Windy California Speedway Test

<BR>Copyright 2003, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>By David Swarts<BR><BR>Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin unofficially recorded the fastest Superbike lap times Wednesday during AMA team testing at California Speedway in Fontana, California.<BR><BR>Strong wind gusts inhibited testing Wednesday morning, but Mladin went out "to just do some laps" when the winds eased somewhat Wednesday afternoon and recorded a best lap time of 1:27.60 on his Dunlop-equipped GSX-R1000 Superbike. Mladin's fastest lap came among a string of 1:28 laps on the revised 2.36-mile road course.<BR><BR>"As you can see, this testing is blowing a gale, and literally nobody's going to achieve anything as far as bike set-up goes because you can't ride the same line twice depending on how hard the wind's blowing," said Mladin. "Setting up the bike for this racetrack on a day like today is a virtual waste of time, and learning anything about the motorcycle - especially a new motorcycle, testing any new stuff - is pretty much impossible as well."<BR><BR>Mladin called the mid-January test the Yoshimura Suzuki squad had at Sepang in Malaysia "the most productive test I've ever been involved in since I've been racing in America…It would've been nice if we could've done four days there, then gone and joined the GP team testing in Australia at Phillip Island as well. Maybe that's something (to consider) for the future."<BR><BR>Ben Spies led all Supersport riders with a 1:30.38 on his 2003-model GSX-R600, and said, "There's been a lot of talk about all of the new 600s this year, and everyone's been counting out the Suzuki. I'm not saying we'll win every race, but I think we'll be up front in every race. <BR><BR>"It's good to get the fastest time and that extra confidence, but my teammate Aaron Yates was right there, too, and he didn't get that Number One plate for nothing."<BR><BR>The previous best lap time on the course running the tighter chicane configuration leading to right-hand turn nine was a 1:30.22 turned by Roger Lee Hayden on his Erion Honda CBR954RR Formula Xtreme bike and the previous best Supersport/Superstock lap time on the revised course was a 1:32.00 recorded by Tommy Hayden on a 636cc Kawasaki ZX-6RR. Both times were set during testing under even windier conditions January 7, 2003.<BR><BR>Wednesday's testers rode the entire day on what some believe will be the layout AMA will race on in April with a tighter chicane preceding the decreasing-radius, right-hand turn nine and a more open turn 10/11 chicane at the beginning of the infield straightaway. <BR><BR>"Obviously, they changed it after the fatality last year," said Mladin of the tighter chicane before turn nine. "It seems better, but how can you tell in this wind? It's alright except for all the cones and stuff. I've had about 10 cones (lying) in front of me already."<BR><BR>Since the last AMA team test at California Speedway in early January, the overly tall curbing on rider's left exiting the turn 10/11 chicane has been ground down, according to Ducati Austin's Anthony Gobert. <BR><BR>"That's a lot better. They took that right out; they knocked it down," said Anthony Gobert. <BR><BR>"They swapped chicanes," said Yamaha's Aaron Gobert. "The one that was fast is slow now, where it was slow, it's fast now."<BR><BR>"It's a shithole!" was Dream Team Ducati Racing's Larry Pegram's first impression of the infield road course at California Speedway. "It's a piss-poor excuse for a racetrack when it's such a nice facility. They could have such a good track here, but it's just a straight, then a chicane, then a straight, then another chicane."<BR><BR>Wednesday marked the first off-season testing appearance of the Graves Yamaha AMA Formula Xtreme team with Damon Buckmaster, Aaron Gobert and Jamie Hacking riding new, fuel-injected versions of the Yamaha YZF-R1-based machine Buckmaster nearly won the 2002 FX title with. One area the Graves crew worked to refine was how the bikes' slipper-clutch worked with the new fuel-injection; Gobert and Buckmaster asked for more engine braking while Hacking asked for less engine braking.<BR><BR>Yoshimura Suzuki, Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki, Yamaha, Graves Yamaha, Kawasaki, Austin Ducati Racing, Dream Team Ducati Racing and Bruce Transportation Group Honda are all expected to return for a second, final day of testing Thursday.<BR><BR>Despite the wind, some riders made many laps, with several turning between 50 and 70 laps on the day.<BR><BR><BR>Wednesday's Best Unofficial Lap Times (as reported by the teams):<BR><BR>1. Mat Mladin, Suzuki GSX-R1000, 1:27.60<BR>2. Aaron Yates, Suzuki GSX-R1000, 1:28.10<BR>3. Anthony Gobert, Ducati 998RS, 1:28.80<BR>4. Larry Pegram, Ducati 998RS, 1:29.75<BR>5. Eric Bostrom, Kawasaki ZX-7RR, 1:29.77<BR>6. Ben Spies, Suzuki GSX-R600, 1:30.38<BR>7. Damon Buckmaster, Yamaha YZF-R6, 1:30.70<BR>8. Jamie Hacking, Yamaha YZF-R6, 1:30.70<BR>9. Ben Spies, Suzuki GSX-R1000, 1:30.83<BR>10. Aaron Yates, Suzuki GSX-R600, 1:30.90<BR>11. Chris Ulrich, Suzuki GSX-R750, 1:31.59<BR>12. Damon Buckmaster, Yamaha YZF-R1, 1:31.67<BR>13. Tommy Hayden, Kawasaki ZX-6RR, 1:31.71<BR>14. Jason DiSalvo, Yamaha YZF-R6, 1:31.90<BR>15. Marty Craggill, Honda CBR954RR, 1:32.43<BR>16. Steve Rapp, Suzuki GSX-R1000, 1:32.50<BR>17. Aaron Gobert, Yamaha YZF-R1, 1:32.55<BR>18. Aaron Gobert, Yamaha YZF-R6, 1:32.67<BR>19. Tony Meiring, Kawasaki ZX-6RR, 1:33.46<BR>20. Marty Craggill, Honda CBR600RR, 1:35.10<BR>21. Matt Furtek, Suzuki GSX-R750, 1:36.86<BR>22. Thad Halsmer, Yamaha YZF-R6, 1:38.50<BR>23. Jamie Hacking, Yamaha YZF-R1, no time provided by team<BR><BR><BR><BR>