Neil Hodgson and Eric Bostrom will take the International stage this weekend, racing their Parts Unlimited Ducati Austin 999s in the AMA Superbike race at Laguna Seca in support of MotoGP. The Parts Unlimited Ducati Austin team, winners of two of the last three AMA Superbike races, hopes to keep up their momentum on the revised 2.2-mile (3.6 kilometer) circuit located in the beautiful California hills.
A record crowd is expected at Laguna Seca as the USGP returns for the first time since 1994 and the Ducati racers want to continue their recent string of strong results. Normally the premier class at the National race weekends, this time the single AMA Superbike race will be held on Saturday and practice time will be at a premium.
Hodgson, winner at Road America last month, has raced the Laguna Seca circuit before during his stint in World Superbikes. In 2003, Neil finished second in both World Superbike races on the way to the World Championship. "Knowing the track from the first lap will make a massive difference, even though we don't get much practice," says Hodgson, racing in his first season in America. "We'll be on the pace from the start, as opposed to being in a learning mode. Over the weekend when you are learning new tracks for the first time, you ride a little tight. It will be good to be more relaxed from the start. As a rider, you are always learning more about the circuits every time you go, but it's a big difference when you've raced there before and have a feel for what it takes to do well."
Pikes Peak winner, Eric Bostrom, has returned to his previous form as the 2005 season marches forward. Californian Bostrom won in Colorado, made a charge for the front as the rain fell in Wisconsin before another rider's accident put him out of Saturday's race, and was in a group of riders fighting for second place in Sunday's event. The 13-time AMA Superbike winner is hoping for more good results at Laguna Seca, a track that has seen him win twice in the Superbike class. "Overall, the bike is working well. I'm happy with the direction things have been going lately," says Bostrom, who claims Laguna Seca is his favorite track. Eric performed well at two recent tests at Mid-Ohio and Virginia to continue his momentum. "Earlier in the year, I had been losing some time in the corners, but now it seems that's our strongest area."
Team manager Tom Bodenbach says the team will try to keep up the strong run. "It should be an interesting race. It seems like a long time ago since we tested here back in January," says Bodenbach. "The good thing about this track is that Neil's raced here a bunch in the past in World Superbike, so he won't be put in a situation like the last two tracks where he's never even tested there before and forced to learn the track in practice and qualifying. That's important this weekend because we will have the limited track time, but that's the same for everyone. Eric's been doing much better than how the season started and he's shown real progress, not just at Pikes Peak where he won, but at Elkhart, too. We're hoping for a good showing in front of all the fans and looking forward to an exciting weekend."
Lap Record: Ben Bostrom holds the Laguna Seca lap record at 1:24.906. Nicky Hayden holds the 28-lap race record at 40:50.932.
The 11 turn, 2.2 mile (3.6 kilometer) Laguna Seca circuit is known for challenging, flowing turns. The landmark corner at the track is The Corkscrew, a left/right chicane that features a dramatic elevation drop of more than 50 feet. The final corner, Turn 11, is the slowest on the circuit and has featured many passing maneuvers in the previous races held in Monterey. A significant number of changes to the circuit and its infrastructure have been completed for this event.