Professional rider on closed course competition.

Mladin and Suzuki Win Daytona Again

March 8, 2004

Suzuki's Mat Mladin won the 63rd Daytona 200 on Saturday. The four-time AMA Superbike champion won the event on his GSX-R1000, using a bold three pit stop strategy that called for him to make up the extra time on the track from rival competitors who chose the traditional two stop strategy. "To win this race, I feel a lot more comfortable going into the season," said the defending series champion Mladin. "If we can win this race, we're going to be competitive." For Mladin, it was his third win of the famous American road race for Suzuki. The Australian-born race has also closed to within one win of tying the all-time AMA Superbike victory record. With seven of the top ten finishers of the 2004 Daytona 200 mounted on Suzukis, the GSX-R1000 proved to be as potent as ever in American Superbike. Privateer Jack Pfeifer was fourth place in the race on his GSX-R1000, ahead of fellow Suzuki racer and Daytona 200 rookie Lee Acree of Empire Racing. Veteran Ricky Orlando finished sixth on his Sun Racing-sponsored GSX-R1000 despite crashing early in the event. Suzuki's Aaron Yates crashed out of the event late in the 57-lap race, although he was in second place at the time. Daytona Supersport racing is all about sticking with the lead pack and fighting through the draft. It's a tough test for any motorcycle and a great place for the AMA racing debut for the brand new Suzuki GSX-R600. Despite two red flags due to crashes, this year's Supersport race saw a tight lead pack that was constantly reshuffled through drafting maneuvers. Yoshimura Suzuki's Aaron Yates, a former Daytona Supersport winner, worked his way through the field to lead then18-lap race several times. He eventually finished seventh. "The new GSX-R600 handles phenomenally," Yates said after the event. "The Yoshimura crew will keep working and we'll win some races this year." Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki's Steve Rapp was ninth in the Supersport final. In Superstock action, Yoshimura Suzuki's Ben Spies won pole with a scintillating, last-second lap to earn the single point awarded by the AMA to the top qualifier. Spies looked to be one of the favorites to take the first Superstock race since the class changed to a 1000cc displacement limit for 2004. Unfortunately for Ben, he dropped out of contention early when he was assessed a stop-and-go penalty for jumping the start of the race. The young Texan did charge through the field after he entered the pits and finished seventh, just ahead of fellow Suzuki pilot Steve Rapp from Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki. John Haner of Hooters Suzuki finished tenth in the thrilling 12-lap race won by Aaron Gobert. In the revamped Formula Xtreme class, Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki's Vincent Haskovec finished sixth although he contended for a podium finish. The Czech-born rider Vincent mounted on the new GSX-R600 ended up being caught out in the last lap Daytona drafting battle in a race won by Miguel DuHamel.

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