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Dec 30, 2001

Superbike Stars Answer The Question, What's It Going To Take To Beat Mat Mladin?

Copyright 2001, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>By David Swarts<BR><BR>Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin has won the AMA Superbike Championship for the last three years straight. So during the Dunlop tire tests at Daytona, we asked some of the other Superbike racers, what is it going to take to beat Mladin?<BR><BR>"It's gonna take…you don't really have to win every weekend to be the Champion," said Mladin's Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Jamie Hacking. "It takes consistency and being smart. When you know you don't have it that weekend, just back off. You just don't have to win every weekend."<BR><BR>"Well, we don't know if Mat's the guy to beat," pointed out Erion Honda's Kurtis Roberts. "Mat has the number one plate, but you never know what could happen from Daytona on. Mat's bike might blow up. The problem is if you think about just one guy, you've only thought about one guy. Someone can always crop up, and you weren't expecting him and it kind of plays with your mind a little bit. Well, I'm not counting anyone out, and I'm not saying anyone's the guys to beat right now. There's however many factory Superbikes, and anyone of us can win the Championship. So it's a matter of getting ourselves ready and, you know, we can beat anyone and they can beat us. Who knows who's going to be the guy. Just gotta train hard this winter and get ready for the season."<BR><BR>"It's going to take consistency," feels Kawasaki's Eric Bostrom, the 2001 Superbike Championship runner-up. "We're going to have to win a lot of races, and the ones we don't win we're going to have to finish on the box. Obviously, that's what Mat's done to win the Championship, and we're going to have to do just that to take it away from him."<BR><BR>Yoshimura Suzuki's Aaron Yates had a longer list of needs to beat his teammate, saying, "Just being prepared, being ready and being consistent, going out there and riding hard, not throwing the bike down anywhere and being comfortable on the bike, having a good set-up and all. That's the main thing. Just being ready for the race."<BR><BR>"It's gonna take…(long pause)…I'm going to have to try to finish every race and I'm going to have to finish every race either on the podium or close to it," said Yamaha's Anthony Gobert. "Mat Mladin is the Champion. He deserves everything he's earned and got. He's a hard guy to beat. On any day, I've proven that I can beat him, on a day. I beat him for a Championship in Australia in 1994. So I do know that I can beat the guy. It's just a matter of I haven't had the full package to do it. I've been letting myself down or the bike's been letting me down. I do feel as long as we have no problems and finish the races and win some races, then that's how were going to do it."<BR><BR>"You don't have to beat Mat," Pascal Picotte said answering a question that he hasn't had to answer in quite a while. "I mean you have to beat the whole team, the whole Suzuki Yoshimura crew. He's a helluva rider. He's doing an awesome job, but he does have a great team behind him. That's the way it goes. You can't just put a good rider on a motorcycle and expect him to win the Championship. It takes time. You gotta build a strong relation with your team, learning the bike, knowing the bike, really be comfortable 100% on it. When you have everything, you're in a position to win the Championship. I think I'll definitely have the equipment to beat him a couple of times. I hope so. But as far as winning the Championship, we need to build a momentum from the first race on and hopefully be a little stronger every weekend on."<BR><BR>