With the 2002 AMA Superbike championship series rapidly approaching Round 1 at Daytona, the teams are completing their pre-season tests (most recently, at Laguna Seca).
Yamaha has put all of its eggs in Anthony Gobert’s basket — he is the only Yamaha factory Superbike rider contesting the AMA Superbike series. So far it has proven a wise choice with Gobert being quickest at more than one venue. Honda’s Nicky Hayden has been just as impressive, however.
Hayden and his teammates have been sharing a single 2002 model RC51 — awaiting their stable of new bikes. Colin Edwards, at the WSB level, has shown the new bike to be considerably quicker, and this could be the undoing of Gobert, as well as three-time champion Mat Mladin (Suzuki). Basically, Hayden has been right with Gobert on last year’s RC51, and could be unbeatable if he finds the new bike a significant improvement.
Mladin and his team seem to have struggled in testing, but Mladin can never be counted out, of course. In any event, don’t expect Mladin to show the dominance he showed last year. At best, Mladin will be in a dog fight with Gobert and Hayden for the AMA Superbike crown in 2002.