This weekend's AMA meeting at Tpad Atlanta looks set to be one of the final showdowns in what is one of the the greatest rivalries in AMA Superbike history.
Not only have Rockstar Makita Yoshimura Suzuki teammates Mat Mladin and Ben Spies dominated the series since they first went head to head, but the teammates have had a profound affect on the nature of Superbike racing.
Since the rivalry began in 2005, Mladin has 40 wins to 25 for Spies, Spies has 32 seconds to Mladin’s 21, and eight thirds to Mladin’s one. The teammates have won the last 43 Superbike races in a row aboard a Suzuki GSX-R1000.
Between them, they hold every lap record and every race record on the current tracks.
With a doubleheader sweep at VIRginia International Raceway Aug. 16-17 Mladin trimmed nine points off Spies’ lead, and comes to Road Atlanta just 18 points behind his rival, 541-523.
Mladin is good, very good at Road Atlanta, where he has 11 career Superbike victories, including Superbike sweeps in 2007, 2006, 2004 and 2000. The only rider who has won a Superbike race at Road Atlanta since Nicky Hayden’s 2002 sweep is Aaron Yates of Milledgeville, who won in 2003 and 2005. Yates was Mladin’s factory Suzuki teammate then, and now rides for the Jordan Suzuki team, along with Geoff May of Gainesville.
Mladin not only has a chance to overtake Spies for his seventh Superbike title, he can also erase one of Spies’ records from the book at Road Atlanta. Earlier this year, Spies won seven straight Superbike races; Mladin comes to Road Atlanta with a six-race winning streak (with Spies second every time). By sweeping the Road Atlanta doubleheader and then winning the season finale at Mazda Laguna Seca, Mladin can tie his own single-season record of 12 victories.
The Suzuki Superbike Showdown presented by Rockstar is a three-day event over Labor Day weekend. Practice and provisional qualifying is set for Friday, Aug 29, with the final Superbike qualifying and the first Superbike race on Saturday along with the Formula Extreme race. Sunday’s schedule includes Supersport, Superstock, Superbike race 2 and the new AMA Red Bull Rookies Cup, featuring riders ages 12-16.