Eric Bostrom (32), Mat Mladin (1), Miguel Duhamel (17), Jake Zemke (98) and Aaron Yates lead the charge at the start of Superbike action at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2004. Photo by Henny Ray Abrams

With MotoAmerica set to bring AMA Superbike racing back to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, August 16-18, we’re taking a closer look at past Superbike races at the iconic racetrack in Lexington, Ohio.

Although Mat Mladin and Jake Zemke split Superbike wins at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2004, Mladin went home with a lot more than just a victory. He went home after taking a giant step toward winning his fifth AMA Superbike Championship with his 1-3 tally pulling him clear of his rivals, both of whom suffered setbacks of some kind in each of the two races.

While Mladin arrived in Ohio with a 10-point lead on Miguel Duhamel and 19 points on Zemke, he left with a 21-point lead over Zemke and a whopping 44-point lead on Duhamel, with the French Canadian suffering the most damage on the weekend.

In Saturday’s race one, Zemke battled a bad front tire to finish a distant fifth. On Sunday, it was Duhamel’s turn to falter with the American Honda rider crashing out of the race when the engine on his CBR1000RR failed.

Jake Zemke was impressive in winning Sunday’s race by some 12 seconds. Photo by Henny Ray Abrams

When they didn’t have troubles, the two Honda riders were spectacular, especially Zemke. On Sunday, Superbike rookie Zemke set a pace nobody could match and the Erion Honda rider stormed away to a 12.7-second win over American Honda’s Ben Bostrom. Mladin rode to a steady third, knowing that Duhamel was out of the race while also knowing he had nothing to throw at the two Hondas ahead of him.

On Saturday it was Duhamel who showed well with the Honda rider shadowing Mladin and giving it his all to run down the Australian in the final laps. Ill-timed traffic thwarted his efforts, and he came up just .337 of a second short at the finish. As good as Duhamel was, Mladin was one better.

“I caught Eric Wood in the Keyhole, and he completely blocked me, and I lost over a second, I think, right there,” Duhamel said after Saturday’s race, “And then I had to make that back up. So, I made it up and on the last lap I was getting up to Mat, but what are you going to do? I got close to him again and put a bit of pressure (on him) and then just finished the race.”

By this point in the 2004 season, Mladin and Duhamel were far from friends, and they took every opportunity to poke each other.

“Miguel pushed hard,” Mladin said. “When you have a motorcycle that suits the rules as his does this year, he makes a lot of time up in a straight line. So, he was pushing hard. He made up time on us, but we held on for the win.”

To which, Duhamel responded when asked if he’d ever ridden harder: “No, that was an illusion. That was a fast bike. I was just hanging on. It was remote control; I think somebody from the tower rides the bike.”

Those hoping for a Mladin/Duhamel brawl on Sunday went home unhappy as Zemke simply dominated. Duhamel was struggling to keep pace early and he crashed on the sixth lap when the bike suffered a mechanical failure, putting a big dent in any chances of a championship. Mladin, meanwhile, played it safe, finishing behind pole-sitter Zemke and Ben Bostrom and later admitting that the Hondas “kicked his butt.”

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