Mladin Says Wet Racing Unclear at Mid-Ohio

Henny Ray Abrams | August 1, 2008

LEXINGTON, OHIO, AUG. 1: Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mat Mladin left the Friday riders meeting unsure of the whether races would be run on the notoriously tricky Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. During a June test here, Mladin and the rest of the factory riders vowed not to race in the rain. The problem is a lack of run-off in a number of high speed corners. If he had any doubts about the wisdom of his choice, they were removed when he watched the wet Grand-Am race run on June 21. As he described it, there were cars spinning out everywhere. A description on the Grand-Am website backs up Mladin’s account. On the ninth lap, “Rain is now falling faster than any race car is moving on the track. Nearly 10 cars are involved in several accidents and off-course dramas all over the place. Full course caution – the first of what will be eight yellow flag periods in the race – and (Jon) Fogarty (he would go on to win the race) and the other top contenders head to the pits. “I came down off the back straightaway and there was like a million cars everywhere and I’m like, ‘what are these jokers doing?’ I got off the gas and went to the brake halfway down the back straightaway and nearly crashed myself. Then I realized how difficult it was.” When asked if there was a definitive answer on wet weather racing, Mladin said, “I don’t know. I was there and I asked a couple of questions and I’m still not sure. I think the only thing that came out of the riders meeting, the only thing that’s clear, is that everything’s still unclear. So to me, that’s about it. I’m not sure. “So apparently if it rains hard we’re not going to ride. I’m not riding anyway as everyone knows. I don’t know. I don’t think anybody got anything straight. I asked if the track was wet and the sun was out, are they sending everyone out? And I got told, ‘no.’ Then five minutes later that question was answered with a ‘yes.’ I don’t know. I’m not sure.” The dry surface is “fantastic,” Mladin said. “I mean, when it rains here it takes a long time for the surface to come back. But obviously they had a track day here yesterday, or whatever they did, and practice and no rain and today the track was pretty quick. I mean lap times aren’t too bad. “But you know, I watched a sports car race here about a month ago. And when the rain came there were team managers jumping up and down asking for the race to be stopped. When cars are asking for the race to be stopped, you know there’s something going on with the surface when it’s wet. And I watched the race-actually I got a text from a friend of mine saying you have to click it on put in on Speed right now and see what’s going on-and I clicked it on and I was rolling around in laughter. I saw all these cars spinning off the race track. Big contact patch compared to what we’ve got. “Just the unfortunate fact of the matter is for some reason this race track doesn’t do good when it’s wet. In saying that, there are a lot of areas on the racetrack that are impact zones as well, so that’s the way it is. But in the dry, the grip is fantastic. It’s weird, weird.”

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.