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Honda's Ben Bostrom reemerges on the podium; Kawasaki's Hayden brothers maintain winning pace

Monterey, CA - Honda Racing's Ben Bostrom took center stage on Sunday, July 11 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the American Motorcyclist Association's (AMA) 2004 Superbike series, winning his first Superbike race of the season on his CBR1000RR after taking a support class victory in the Formula Xtreme series on Saturday on a CBR600RR. With a dominating performance by Kawasaki Road Racing's Tommy Hayden on a ZX-10R in the Superstock race and a equally-convincing victory by Hayden's brother and teammate Roger Lee on a ZX-6RR in the Supersport class, it was another AMA weekend dominated by Dunlop-shod motorcycles.

Dunlop's performance was punctuated by the comparatively slower lap times of the visiting World Superbike (WSB) teams, whose highly-modified 1000cc machines must compete on mandated Pirelli tires. In fact, Bostrom's qualifying time of 1:24.906, a new AMA lap record, was more than two seconds faster than the WSB's pole sitter. Even Hayden's Superstock pole time of 1:26.382 bested the WSB machines by more than a half-second.

The eighth stop on AMA's 2004 tour, Laguna Seca is noted for its consistent surface and relatively short straights between turns. With an emphasis on cornering traction, teams often opt for tire compounds that are relatively softer than those used at other AMA venues. Track temperatures, however, rise rapidly under the full sun and add heat to the tires, causing some riders to choose harder compounds for durability. The result is the widest range of tire compounds selected at any of the AMA's 11 venues. Dunlop brought more than 2000 tires to support the factory teams and support riders in the tour's four series, and provided the factory-supported Superbike and Superstock teams with five compound choices for both front and rear tires.

The race weekend began on Saturday with Tommy Hayden leading 14 laps of the 17-lap Superstock main event en route to his second victory of the season. In so doing, he pulled him to within five points of series-leader Jamie Hacking, who valiantly rode his Graves Motorsports Yamaha YZF-R1 to a sixth-place finish after breaking his collarbone last week. "I came here really confident straight away in practice, and it always makes it easier when you start out on a bike that's pretty decent," said Hayden. Hayden's teammate and brother, Roger Lee, finished less than a second behind, with third place going to Yamaha's Aaron Gobert. Attack Kawasaki's Josh Hayes took fourth, Yamaha's Jason Disalvo was fifth and Yoshimura's Ben Spies collected seventh on his GSX-R1000. With Erion Racing's Alex Gobert finishing tenth on a CBR1000RR, Dunlop-shod bikes took nine of the top 10 positions. Hacking maintains the championship lead with 243 points to Tommy Hayden's 238; Aaron Gobert is close behind in third with 233.

Ben Bostrom returned to winning form with a convincing victory in Saturday's Formula Xtreme race. Marred by a red flag caused by oil leaking from Jake Zemke's Erion Racing CBR600RR, Bostrom never relinquished the lead after the restart. "It always feels good to win here," said Bostrom. "It's been a long time and it feels pretty unusual to be up here, but it feels good." Series-leader Miguel Duhamel rode to a solid second-place finish after losing a shift lever on the same lap that was red-flagged. Zemke rode an inspired race to finish third after restarting from the back of the pack. Erion Racing's Alex Gobert was fourth, Doug Chandler took sixth and Jason Pridmore finished seventh as Dunlop-supported riders took six of the top 10 positions. Duhamel holds a 17-point lead over Zemke in the points race, 282 to 265, with three races to go. Alex Gobert is third with 220 points.

Sunday's AMA Superbike competition was the fastest motorcycle race this side of the Atlantic. Yoshimura Suzuki's Matt Mladin, the series leader, took over the lead on his GSX-R1000 after just one lap and looked to be headed to victory, despite the pursuit of Ben Bostrom and then Zemke. But it was not to be, as the race was red-flagged on the 16th lap. On the restart, Bostrom jumped into the lead and the 1998 AMA Superbike champion was never headed, despite a strong challenge from Mladin in the last two laps. "Today was one of the most fun I've had," said Bostrom. "We got lucky on the restart, jumped out there and I tried to put on as much time as I could because I knew they would be coming after me. I was so tense on those last two laps, I couldn't remember what it was like to win a Superbike race." The Superbike win was Bostrom's fourth at Laguna Seca, owing to his three previous WSB victories here. Honda's Miguel Duhamel fought an intense battle with Suzuki's Aaron Yates for third place, eventually passing Yates in the waning laps to hold on for the third podium spot. Kawasaki's Josh Hayes took sixth and a disappointed Zemke soldiered home to seventh on his ailing CBR1000RR as Dunlop's riders took six of the top ten positions. Mladin's second-place finish extended his series points lead over Duhamel, 391 to 381. Zemke maintains third with 372 points and six races remaining.

The weekend's action concluded with Roger Lee Hayden capturing his second victory the Supersport series on his ZX-6RR. Hayden and Yamaha's Aaron Gobert had a spirited battle for the lead after the race was restarted after only one lap. But on lap 10 of the 17-lap event, Gobert crashed his YZF-R6 out of the lead entering turn one and Hayden cruised home with a 6.6-second victory over runner-up Jason Disalvo. "He (Gobert) crashed and I came around and I saw plus eight (seconds) on my board and I kind of got nervous and thought, ?what do I do now'," said Hayden. "I took my time, had fun and brought it in." Hayden's teammate and brother, series-leader Tommy Hayden, finished third. Suzuki's Spies and Ben Attard finished fourth, Kawasaki's Tony Meiring was seventh and Yamaha's Jason Perez was tenth as Dunlop-shod machines took seven of the top 10 positions. Tommy Hayden's lead is now 22 points over brother Roger, 266 to 244 and Disalvo holds third with 207.

Next stop for Dunlop and the AMA road racing tour will be the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, July 23-25, featuring a doubleheader round of Superbike action.

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