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Jul 5, 2002

Mladin Previews Laguna Seca

From a press release issued by Mat Mladin's publicist:<BR><BR>Rounds 12, 2002 AMA Chevy Trucks US Superbike Championship and Round 9, 2002 Superbike World Championship<BR><BR>Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey, California, USA<BR><BR>Event preview<BR><BR>MLADIN SCORES 'WILD CARD' RIDE FOR WORLD SUPERBIKE EVENT AT LAGUNA SECA<BR> <BR>Monterey, California, USA (Friday, July 5) - No fewer than six Australians will take part in the American round of the 2002 Superbike World Championship to be held at the Laguna Seca Raceway, near Monterey, California next weekend, July 13 & 14.<BR><BR>One of those riders is three-times American Superbike champion Mat Mladin. The Blimpie Yoshimura Suzuki rider has been nominated along with fellow Australian Anthony Gobert and four American riders as the 'wild card' entrants for the round. Each hosting country is permitted a number of riders from their domestic championship to take part in the SWC races and with Mladin the defending American Superbike champion, he was granted an entry.<BR><BR>Mladin, from Camden south west of Sydney, will be making his first appearance in the SWC since 1998, where he again rode at the Laguna Seca round of the championship, but was forced out of both races with mechanical problems.<BR><BR>The Laguna Seca meeting will also play host to round 12 of the AMA Chevy Trucks US Superbike Championship. With the two SWC races scheduled for Sunday, the AMA competitors will take to the track for their race on Saturday afternoon. The hectic schedule will see Mladin take to the 3.610km Laguna Seca circuit for four practice sessions, four qualifying sessions and three 100km races (one AMA and two SWC) during the course of the weekend.<BR><BR>To compete in the SWC events, Mladin's team have had to make modifications to his Suzuki GSX-R750 to make it eligible for the category, but due to their busy American race program, have yet to test the new bike.<BR><BR>"We're committed to doing the SWC event and we'll be out there trying our best," said Mladin. "The SWC rules mean that we have to change parts of the throttle bodies that we use here in America, plus we are also allowed to use different fuels here that you can't in SWC. Due to the closeness of the championship races here, we haven't had a chance to test the new bikes and will get to do that in the opening practice session next Friday."<BR><BR>"One thing is for certain, we will be doing a lot of riding over the weekend with three long races for us," added Mladin. "It will be hard for us out there. The SWC regulars are producing a lot of horsepower from their bikes and I hope that we can be somewhere in the ball park to be competitive. All we can do at this stage is stay positive and keep working forward with the development of the bike."<BR><BR> Fellow Australian and defending World Superbike champion Troy Bayliss (Infostrada Ducati) leads the championship points race after eight rounds of the championship, having won 13 of the 16 races held this year. Bayliss holds a 49-point lead over American rider Colin Edwards (Castrol Honda), with the two expected to be in the thick of the action over the weekend.<BR><BR>With the anticipated focus on the World Championship races, Mladin will be kept on his toes as he will be preparing his AMA machine alongside that of the SWC bike. It has been a difficult season for the defending champion and he arrives at Monterey lying eighth overall in the championship. An engine fault in the previous round at Brainerd International Raceway cost him valuable championship points and he will be determined not to repeat those results at any of the remaining rounds in the AMA Championship.<BR>