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Mar 20, 2007

Mladin, Spies Fastest As Two-day, Multi-team Tests Concludes At Barber Motorsports Park

Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin and Ben Spies were unofficially the fastest two riders during a two-day, multi-team test that concluded today at Barber Motorsports Park, in Birmingham, Alabama.

No official times were available, but according to several sources at the test Mladin and Spies both recorded lap times in the 1:24.6 range (while using race tires on their GSX-R1000s), which is 0.8 second quicker than the fastest race lap time from 2006 and even quicker than Spies' 2006 pole position/lap record time of 1:24.830.

"It went good," Spies told via cell phone. "The bike was working pretty good from the get-go. One of the big problems I've had with the bike has been backing in. We did something to the bike and pretty much eliminated that. Now I can brake as deep as I have talent to. (laughs)

"I'll admit Barber and those types of tracks are kind of my weaker tracks that I've been working on and getting better on. Obviously, last year we had a good weekend at Barber, but still it's not my strongest track. Last year in testing we were a bit off from Mat [Mladin], then at the race we closed it up. This year, at least, we were pretty much dead-even in testing. The test couldn't have gone any better for us, really."

Spies said he also did a 1:26.3 (0.7 second faster than the fastest race lap time from 2006) during the limited laps he made on his Superstock GSX-R1000. Few Superstock lap times were available, but Ben Bostrom reported doing a 1:26.4 during a very productive test of his YZF-R1.

Several Superbike riders did laps in the low-1:26 range, including Yoshimura Suzuki's Tommy Hayden and American Honda's Miguel Duhamel and Jake Zemke. A little further down the order, were Yamaha's Eric Bostrom, who said he did a 1:26.3, and Monster Energy Kawasaki's Jamie Hacking, who reported doing a 1:26.5, about the same as his teammate Roger Hayden.

Eric Bostrom said he did not know what time his teammate Jason DiSalvo did, but he did know that DiSalvo was ill at the test and only rode a limited number of laps. Zemke and Team M4 EMGO Suzuki's Michael Barnes also said they were under the weather at the test.

Barnes was one of three riders known to have crashed. Graves Yamaha's Josh Herrin crashed in turn 11, the fast left at the end of the back straightaway, and Fast By Ferracci MV Agusta's Matt Lynn had a big get-off coming over the blind right-hand crest at turn three.

According to several riders, Lynn would have hit the same Armco barrier that Roger Hayden slid into and broke his leg last year if the barrier had not been moved during the off-season. Spies said he thinks the barrier is still too close, however.

Members of the new Rider Safety Council for Road Racing, along with AMA Racing Road Race Manager Morgan Broadhead met with Barber Motorsports Park management Monday evening. According to Zemke, a member of the Council, the track has made several improvements that riders asked for last year and were very receptive to their new requests for more, minor changes, like new curbs and gravel traps.

The test was attended by Celtic Racing, American Honda, Corona Extra Honda, Monster Energy Kawasaki, Attack Kawasaki, Fast By Ferracci MV Agusta, Yoshimura Suzuki, Team M4 EMGO Suzuki, Team Suzuki, Blackfoot Picotte Performance Suzuki, Yamaha, Graves Yamaha and Erion Honda's Josh Hayes, who rode his personal CBR600RR.

Weather for the test was very good except for some high winds on Monday. Ambient temperatures were in the mid-70s F, and track temperatures were reported to have exceeded 40 C, which one Crew Chief described as "toasty."
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