AMA Superbike Championship leader Matt Mladin announced his decision to retire from Superbike racing this weekend after refusing to take part in this weekend’s latest round at Heartland Park due to safety concerns.
The six-time AMA champion, who is almost certain to pick up a seventh with three rounds of the championship remaining, declared his decision to retire from racing at the end of the current season after launching a scaving attack on AMA organisers over rider safety.
The Australian refused to take part in this weekend’s round at Heartland Park in Topeka, Kansas due to serious safety concerns over the layout of the renovated circuit, accusing AMA organisers of approving circuits with “numerous safety flaws”.
“We go to a few venues that still have some safety issues, but many of these venues have made vast improvements over the past few years,” says Mladin. “Sanctioning new venues with numerous safety flaws is just plain ridiculous.”
Whilst track officials are modifying circuits to address safety concerns raised by several racers, the 37-year-old remains unconvinced by the changes and claimed that with teams unable to test at the new venues, rider safety is still being put at risk.
“I will never accept the lowering of safety standards for the sake of a few people making money,” says Mladin. “It is the young kids, the future of the sport that will bear the brunt of the worst of this. One day, the teams and riders need to come together for the well being of each other.”
The announcement of his retirement, which appears to rule out a widely speculated move to World Superbikes, comes after a tirade of criticisms launched by Mladin on his Twitter page, in which he even accused his fellow riders of being “spineless”.
“So Topeka today! 170mph turn 1 and you can hit the concrete with your shoulder, which leads to turn 2 head on into concrete which leads to turn 3 where a wall has removed and if you run off the track you go into a 10ft deep ditch,” said Mladin in a series of ‘tweets’. “The track seems willing to do work but the wrong people are advising what to do and unfortunately I do not wish to die or be busted up waiting for that work to be done.
“Some riders are saying that the work will happen in stages. It’s the reason why some places we go now are still bad, because riders won’t stand up and be counted. Amazing how great they can ride a bike but be the most gutless people I have ever known. Spineless!”
In Mladin’s absence, Larry Pegram secured his first career double victory to move to third in the standings. Mladin currently stands on 390 points, 83 points ahead of Tommy Hayden with three rounds remaining.