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Mladin close to AMA title

Published: 26 August 2005

Mat Mladin won both races at the penultimate round of the 2005 AMA Superbike championship as Britain's Neil Hodgson struggled to lone fifth place after a race one crash.

Mladin looks likely to take his sixth AMA championship at the final round at Road Atlanta on September 4, 2005. He dominated the round at the Virginia International Raceway with a pole position, a lap record of 1:23.986, and led the second race from start to finish.

Race one saw Mladin battle his way through the grid on two occasions as the race was red-flagged twice, and he made two bad starts due to an an issue Mladin would not reveal. The Yoshimura Suzuki rider was joined on the podium by team-mates Ben Spies and Aaron Yates, making it a clean sweep for the GSX-R. Neil Hodgson was running inside the top five until the first red flag on lap four, but unfortunately fell on the first lap after the restart.

"I lost the front in the last corner coming onto the front straight," said Hodgson. "I was fast there all weekend and hand't had any sliders. The crash was a shock. I just tipped it in and all of a sudden, I was on my shoulder."

Hodgson was sore but unhurt for the second race on Sunday, which saw Mladin take a smoother victory, with Aaron Yates and Ben Spies again making it an all-Suzuki podium. MIguel DUHamel took fourth, and Hodgson was able to take fifth place.

"I ran my own lonely race, not feeling any pressure and not needing to keep an eye on my pit board," said Hodgson. "I don't know why we had such a rough go of it this weekend. It was the middle section that gave us a tough time. The first and last parts were fine. It was a tough day at the office."

The win on Sunday leaves Mladin set to break the record for the most wins in a single season, which is currently at 10, from his own 2003 season, and also by Fred Merkel in 1984. He currently leads the championship on 471 points, with the only real challenge coming from fellow Suzuki rider Ben Spies. Eric Bostrom is third in the championship, with Aaron Yates fourth, Miguel Duhame fifth and Neil Hodgson sixth in his debut year. Hodgson has already signed to stay in the AMA series for 2006 with an eye on winning the title.

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