Ranking The Top Ten SuperBike Champions - No. 2

NEWS February 7, 2014

Ranking The Top Ten SuperBike Champions - No. 2

Photo by Brian J Nelson

Written by Chris Martin:

February 7, 2014 - Mat Mladin is quite simply the baddest man to ever throw a leg over a Superbike.

During his legendary tenure in AMA Pro SuperBike, the incomparable Australian assembled numbers that are unlikely to ever be approached. Consider that no other rider in the near-four-decade history of the sport can has earned more than half the number of SuperBike wins (82... or 84 depending on who you're asking), poles (63), or titles (seven) as Mladin.

And while his numbers are inarguable, Mladin's legacy is so much more than the accumulation of statistics.

The long-time Yoshimura Suzuki ace was an unprecedented master of psychological warfare -- regularly shattering the psyches of lesser-willed riders who naively thought they could compete for titles and have fun doing it.

Mladin was also technical wizard who startled the opposition with his immediate pace and then finished the job with corner-after-corner, lap-after-lap, race-after-race, year-after-year perfection. He typically had his competition beat before the first lap of the weekend was turned… and if not, leading the Friday morning practice by two seconds usually did the trick.

Mladin was supremely focused and unrelenting in his approach. He raised the bar and dared others to either meet his level or be unsympathetically left in his wake. And when someone finally did match that world-class challenge, Mat revaluated his game and came back a stronger, faster rider, something previously thought impossible.

Those seven titles came in a variety of fashions. Some were taken through calculating efficiency and consistency despite being outgunned. More often, however, they were stormed to via unprecedented domination. But all of them were earned with his trademark intensity and intimidation at the forefront.

Mladin didn't suffer fools gladly and singlehandedly shaped the feel of the paddock with his larger-than-life persona and even larger skills.

If anyone wants to call Mat Mladin the greatest racer AMA Pro Road Racing, you'll get no argument from me. He might very well be the best Superbike racer the world has ever known, regardless of series.

However, after much deliberation, in ranking the AMA Pro SuperBike Champions, I ultimately placed him #2. While it may seem blasphemous to put Mladin anywhere but at the very top, all will be explained.

Next time: #1 (and why…)

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