Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mat Mladin kept alive a perfect Superpole season, despite starting from his lowest qualifying position on a warm and intermittently sunny afternoon at Barber Motorsports Park, site of the Honda Superbike Classic.Mladin had clocked the seventh fastest time in a sub-par afternoon qualifying while still in the early stages of developing the 2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 K9. Fourth of the ten riders to take Superpole, Mladin made himself the target by going straight to the top with a lap of 1:25.653 mins., well better than the 1:26.309 he’d run in qualifying.One by one they came at him, but with little success. First was Corona Extra Honda’s Jake Holden, riding in place of the injured Neil Hodgson. Holden was 1.3 secs. slower.Next was Mladin’s teammate Tommy Hayden, who then slotted into third, behind Yamaha’s Josh Hayes, who’d gone before Mladin. Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing Ducati’s Larry Pegram went slower than Hayden, as did Yamaha’s Ben Bostrom. The final two riders were National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s Geoff May and Blake Young, the third member of the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team.May finished his lap .599 secs. off Mladin (1:26.252), leaving it up to Young to dethrone Mladin. He couldn’t. Young’s lap of 1:25.827 was slower than he’d gone in qualifying (1:25.769) and .174 secs. short of Mladin’s benchmark.”We went around the ballpark today and in the morning session it felt pretty good,” Mladin said. “And then we tried a bunch of stuff, the sort of stuff we would do normally to the old and, more so, the Superbike from last year, and this bike just didn’t like it. So we came back to what we had this morning and we have a direction now. So for tomorrow morning hopefully we’ll get some dry track time and keep heading in the same direction.”The short version of the difference between the K8 and K9 is that it has a shorter chassis and longer swingarm.”That is fairly simply said,” Mladin began, “unfortunately the results are not so simple and how to work with it is not so simple. It’s a very different motorbike. It’s very, very different and we have to start re-thinking a few of the things that we’re doing and how we go about them to get the most out of this bike.”Superpole:1. Mat Mladin (Suzuki) 1:25.6532. Blake Young (Suzuki) 1:25.8273. Geoff May (Suzuki) 1:26.2524. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:26.3175. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki) 1:26.3176. Ben Bostrom (Yamaha) 1:26.6797. Larry Pegram (Ducati) 1:26.7748. Jake Holden (Honda) 1:27.0729. Taylor Knapp (Suzuki) 1:27.26010. David Anthony (Suzuki) 1:27.883
Mladin Takes Barber Superpole
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.