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Apr 29, 2002

Tommy Hayden, Yates, Buckmaster And Sorensen Featured In AMA Pro Racing's Sears Point Preview

<BR><BR>From an AMA press release<BR><BR>Yates shopping for a Pro Honda Oils Supersport victory at Sears Point<BR><BR>Aaron Yates has a solid points lead in the Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport Championship coming into the race this Sunday, May 5 at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Undefeated thus far on his Blimpie Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R600, Yates has surprised fans and fellow competitors with his come-from-behind moves late in the finals to take wins at Daytona Beach in March and Fontana, Calif., last month. With two victories Yates holds a 21-point lead in the championship, very unusual this early in the highly-competitive AMA Supersport Series.<BR><BR>Yates will be looking for his first AMA Supersport victory at Sears; his previous best finish in the event was second to Pascal Picotte in 1997. His bid for a victory last year at Sears Point ended in a spectacular head-first crash into air barriers at over 100 miles per hour while leading. Yates was uninjured in the crash.<BR><BR>Another surprise in the series is the fact that Australian Damon Buckmaster sits tied for second in the points. Prior to this season Buckmaster has never been ranked higher than 10th in AMA Supersport. But riding with the Yamaha factory (under the Graves Motorsports banner) seems to be all the 29-year-old Buckmaster needed to be successful in the series. Fellow Australian and Yamaha teammate Anthony Gobert, who won this race last year, is down on points because of a crash at Daytona. Gobert rallied to earn second place at Fontana last month and the former Australian Superbike champ is still considered a viable contender for the championship.<BR><BR>Tied with Buckmaster for second in the points coming into Sears Point is Blimpie Yoshimura Suzuki rider Jamie Hacking. Sears Point has never been kind to Hacking. The South Carolinian has suffered more than his share of crashes on the twisty circuit, but he feels those days are behind him and is looking forward to a strong showing this weekend.<BR><BR>Attack Suzuki teammates Jason Pridmore and Ben Spies are tied for fourth in the series. Pridmore is a long-time AMA pro who is a three-time AMA Superstock and Formula Xtreme winner at Sears Point. Spies is a former AMA Horizon Award winner (signifying the AMA's top amateur rider) and at just 17 is considered one of the top up-an-coming riders in AMA Superbike.<BR><BR>Buckmaster leads the Lockhart-Phillips Formula Xtreme Series after winning the series opener at Fontana a month ago. "Bucky" lost the Formula Xtreme title by a single point to John Hopkins last year after leading the class most of the season. He definitely has serious motivation on his side after having the title slip from his grasp eight months ago. Attack Suzuki's Jason Pridmore, who has made a healthy comeback to the series after breaking his leg and collarbone in the middle of the 2001 season, ranks second. He feels right at home at Sears Point where he first began his road racing career as a club racer in the late-1980s. Pridmore is also the defending Formula Xtreme winner at Sears. Bruce Transportation Group Honda rider Jake Zemke is ranked third and is showing the abilities that earned him a victory in the series in Brainerd, Minn., last year.<BR><BR>Kawasaki's Tommy Hayden is turning a lot of heads by leading the Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock Series (formerly 750 Supersport). It marks the first time in series history that a rider on a 600cc machine has led the points in the class, which is dominated by 750cc bikes. The oldest of the three racing Hayden brothers, Tommy is the only rider ever to win a Superstock race on a 600cc machine. He did it in 1999 in Lexington, Ohio, on a Yamaha and again last month in Fontana aboard his factory Kawasaki ZX-6R. It's no fluke; Kawasaki is going to try to win the Superstock class over Suzuki, which has won the series for six-straight years. Canadian Jordan Szoke is trying to keep Suzuki's championship-winning streak alive. The Corona Extra Suzuki rider is only one point behind Hayden as they head to Sears Point. Valvoline EMGO Suzuki's Chris Ulrich is third.<BR><BR>With defending champion Jim Filice leaving the MBNA 250 Grand Prix for AMA Supersport in 2002, the championship has been left wide open to a vast array of talented riders. Former class champion, Stargel Aprilia's Chuck Sorensen, from nearby Sunnyvale, Calif., leads the point standings after taking the win at Daytona and fifth at California Speedway. Sorensen is a two-time AMA 250GP winner at Sears. Second in the standings is Team Oliver Yamaha's Perry Melneciuc from Lehigh Acres, Fla. Bridgestone Yamaha rider Ed Sorbo, from Redlands, Calif., comes into Sears Point ranked third. Former Sears Point winners Rich Oliver and Roland Sands are also expected to be top contenders in the race. Oliver returned to racing and the podium at Fontana after a fall at Daytona left him with a severed ring finger and broken pelvis.<BR><BR>For ticket information of the Superbike Supercuts Challenge, contact Sears Point Raceway at (707) 938-8448 or visit the website at <BR><BR>