2008 AMA Superbike Championship: The End of the Mladin-Spies Rivalry

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2008 AMA Superbike Championship: The End of the Mladin-Spies Rivalry

As the 2008 AMA Superbike season came to a close, there were reminders of the celebrations and controversies that made up this thrilling season.

Ben Spies secured the Superbike title at Road Atlanta, while Mat Mladin was second place for the third year in a row.  On September 28th at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the two Rockstar Makita Yoshimura Suzuki riders finished in the top two, just as they have done repeatedly over the past years.

Standing on the Superbike Championship podium, first-place race finisher Mat Mladin reminded everyone of his displeasure with AMA Pro Racing’s decision to disqualify him at Virginia International Raceway. The appeal was denied and Mladin’s DQs from the two races he won stood.

When the checkered flag was handed to Mladin, he was congratulated on his 72nd win.

“Thank you for my 74th win,” Mladin replied with a touch of sarcasm.

The rivalry between the two Suzuki riders was apparent as they commented on the last race of the season during the post-race press conference.

“I understand it's Ben's last race here so I certainly wanted to send him off with a win,” explained Mladin. “I tried hard and it's good to get the win here at Laguna, a track he does very well at.”

Spies admitted that the pace that Mladin was running made it difficult for anyone to catch up. By lap two, there was a 1.029-second gap between first and second place. Mladin would extend that gap to 14.007 seconds in the 26th lap.

“I could see the pace he was running, and the gap we had—I'm not superhuman so there is no way that was going to happen,” Spies reflect upon the beginning of the race. “We just made it our Sunday farewell cruise. It was a good race and I had a lot of thoughts. I actually had a lot of fun riding out there. I'm looking forward to everything that's coming up."

The rumblings of Spies exiting the AMA race circuit grew louder as the season went and the rumor of a MotoGP entrance by the three-time Champion was one that many heard.

Clarifying that he’s not going to GP, Spies confirmed he was “looking for something different.”

Three times this season Spies rode as a wildcard in the MotoGP Rizla Suzuki team and fared quite well in each race. Many assumed he would make the jump after this season.

“I guess I’m not fast enough. I don’t know,” reflected Spies.

After a brief silence, Mladin stated, “I’m fast enough.”

With that, the press conference concluded just as the season—with the two Suzuki riders competing until the very end.

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