Copyright 2003, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.
By Bob Dragich, with files from John Hopkins
Yoshimura’s Mat Mladin crashed late in the first Daytona 200 qualifying session, for even-numbered bikes, after turning what was, at the time, the fastest lap at 1:48.555. Mladin crashed out uninjured in the chicane. “I just lost the front,” he said with a shrug after the session. Mladin made it back to the pits with the help of a mini-bike pilot. Deposited at the entrance to the pits, Mladin ran to his pits, sat for a minute, and took off on his backup bike. In the meantime, Erion Honda’s Kurtis Roberts set the fastest lap, just 0.001-second faster than Mladin. With six minutes left in the session, Mladin went out and turned a 1:48.613, pretty fast for just crashing, but not enough to retake the pole.
Early in the session, Kawasaki’s Eric Bostrom was seen pushing his bike next to the track. “We blew a motor,” he said. Asked if he was still considering two different big-bore motors as he had at the last test a Laguna Seca, Bostrom said, “We’re down to (considering) two motors: the big motor and the 750cc. We just might run the 750cc in the race.”
Miguel Duhamel crashed during the second of two Superbike qualifying sessions on Thursday, taking a tumble in turn six and doing minimal damage to himself and his motorcycle. “I was just trying to be smooth, I was on the brakes, and I think I might have bottomed-out the forks. Tomorrow we’re going to come out of the box with something better. The bike’s fast; if we can just get the right suspension on it, we’ll be right there.” Duhamel went back out after the crash, and, with nine-and-a-half minutes left in the session, turned a 1:49.280, third-fastest in the session after pole-winner Ben Bostrom and Yoshimura’s Ben Spies. Six of the fastest guys came from the first session, however, and Duhamel’s time was only best for ninth overall, inside the third row.
More, from the post-qualifying press conference:
Ben Bostrom: “They [the first group] had a fast group and I didn’t know if we had enough to pull it out. I don’t think Kurtis deserved to be in our session. He didn’t do karaoke in Japan with Miguel and I. He’s not a team player.”
Kurtis Roberts: “I just tried to work on being smooth. I’m not the best qualifier up here and it doesn’t mean that much except getting a nice watch.”
In response to a question as to whether or not he worked with his teammates during qualifying: “The last time I checked my two teammates were in the other group, so I was pretty much screwed as far as teamwork goes.”
“I just tucked the front end. I was trying a harder front tire and it didn’t have the grip I was expecting. It’s [the pole] one point. That’s what I say all the time. We missed out on that. So I’m pissed.”
“Most of the time I was running by myself. We struggled a bit early on today trying to get some grip. It [the session] was a lot of fun ’til right at the end. We were all out together and nobody wanted to run. That was kind of frustrating.”
More, from a press release issued by Mat Mladin’s publicist, Steve Reeves:
MLADIN TO START FROM FRONT ROW FOR DAYTONA 200
Daytona Beach, Florida, USA (Thursday, March 6) – Australia’s three-times American Superbike champion Mat Mladin, will start from the front row of the grid for this weekend’s 62nd Daytona 200 classic after posting the third fastest time in today’s qualifying session that determined pole position and the remainder of the front row of the grid.
Mladin’s run at gaining pole was disrupted in the closing minutes as he fell from his Team Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 at the chicane. At that stage, Mladin had set the fastest time of his session and was preparing to go quicker, but was robbed of the opportunity due to the crash.
“Having the crash with about 15 minutes came at the time when we were starting to put some new tyres on the bike and make a run at a pole position time,” said Mladin, who took pole for the 200 in 2001. “I had a different tyre on the front that I hadn’t had much time on and just lost it on the entry into the chicane. I got back to the pits and onto my spare bike as soon as I could, so that I could make sure that all of my parts were still working at least, but was only able to get a couple of laps in before the session closed.”
Pole position for this weekend’s season opening round of the AMA Chevy Trucks US Superbike Championship went to former World Superbike rider Ben Bostrom. The American Honda rider posted a time of 1:48.376, to edge out Kurtis Roberts (Erion Honda, 1:48.554) and Mladin (1:48.555). Mladin’s teammate Aaron Yates will complete the front row of the grid after setting a best time of 1:48.659. Less than one second covered the top nine riders during qualifying, with fellow Australian Anthony Gobert (Ducati Austin) seventh fastest.
Mladin ran a number of solid lap times during the morning’s free practice session as he and his team continued to develop the all-new Suzuki GSX-R1000 that they will be campaigning in this years championship.
“The morning session went well for us today. We know what the bike is capable of doing at the moment, but we’re not happy with that, as I want it to do more. We made more improvements on the bike today from yesterday, but basically we just need to have more track time and get the bike sorted since it is still so new.”
Qualifying continues tomorrow with the remainder of the grid positions to be sorted. For Mladin and his fellow front row starters, their place on the grid has already been confirmed which means that they will be able to turn their focus on race set up for Sunday’s 57-lap feature.
Daytona 200 Qualifying Notes & Quotes
© 2003, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.
Copyright 2003, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.