Last year at Road Atlanta, the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team accomplished an amazing feat in taking their 50th (and 51st) consecutive AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike series race victories. Their rider, Mat Mladin went on to capture his record breaking seventh AMA Pro American SuperBike Championship. This year, heading into the Suzuki SuperBike Showdown at Road Atlanta, April 16-18, the story couldn’t be more different.
The 2010 season began with Jordan Suzuki rider Aaron Yates taking a popular pole position at the opening event. Under the watchful eye of team owner Michael Jordan, new National Guard Jordan Suzuki rider Jake Zemke followed up Yates’s great performance with double race victories on the high banks of Daytona. Yates continued his show of qualifying speed with another pole position at the Auto Club Speedway last month. But that weekend saw two more different winners on the California track.
Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing Ducati rider Larry Pegram took a very hard fought and popular victory in race one ahead of the Jordan teammates Zemke and Yates. Sunday’s second National Guard SuperBike race once again saw the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team regain their rightful place atop the podium but this time, it was a well deserved and long overdue first time victory for Tommy Hayden. Hayden and his Suzuki have been frontrunners all season, with two close second place finishes at Daytona and a relatively solid performing package all year long, the team leader for Rockstar Makita Suzuki and Yoshimura, finally answered the pundits with a extremely well judged and executed victory over Team Graves Yamaha rider Josh Hayes and Hayden’s Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammate Blake Young.
In a sad twist of fate, Yates had an unfortunate accident during the Sunday morning warm up at Auto Club Speedway and suffered multiple injuries to his right leg. While he recovers at his Georgia home, young Canadian rider Brett McCormick will move from his Celtic Racing Suzuki to the Jordan Suzuki.
Another rider undergoing medical treatment is M4 Monster Energy Suzuki rider John Hopkins. "Hopper" underwent surgery after the Auto Club Speedway race. Hopkins ran very strong during the early stages of the California races and will hopefully be able to show his true potential on his return to the American motorcycle racing scene after a number of successful years in Europe in MotoGP and World Superbike. His teammate Chris Ulrich has also had a good start to the 2010 season with a sixth place at Daytona. Riding his M4 Monster Energy Suzuki, he is currently just behind Pat Clark Motorsports Yamaha rider Ben Bostrom in the point standings. RidersDiscount.com Suzuki rider Taylor Knapp is ninth in the points just ahead of McCormick, who is tenth in points.
Yates is the only active rider with an AMA Pro American SuperBike victory at Road Atlanta so there will be a new, first time winner at the Suzuki SuperBike Showdown on the 2.56-mile permanent road course.
Practice and qualifying begin on Friday, April 16th and final qualifying and the first of two exciting AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike races will take place at 3:00 p.m. local time Saturday and race two will be Sunday, April 18th at 3:00 p.m. local time.
All three AMA Pro Road Racing classes will be racing at Road Atlanta, visit www.roadatlanta.com. Both AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike races can be seen this weekend on SPEED TV, check your local listing for the broadcast times.