Could Mat Mladin Race In WSBK? UPDATE - With BMW?

Ever since Ben Spies entered the World Superbike championship, all eyes have been on his former teammate at Yoshimura Suzuki, Mat Mladin. The 7-time AMA Superbike champion initially decided to stay in the US, but his disillusionment with the way the DMG - the rights holders for AMA Superbikes - was running the series became more and more prominent, and he eventually announced his retirement from racing at the end of July 2009. 

At the time, speculation was rife that this retirement was merely from the AMA, and that the Australian veteran was planning a secret return to World Superbikes for the 2010 series. Mladin denied it, telling's Dean Adams that he intended to stop racing altogether once the 2009 AMA season had concluded.

Or perhaps not. An eagle-eyed observer over on Motorcycle USA spotted a fascinating Twitter posting by Mat Mladin this week:

a couple of world superbike offers have come my way in the past month. 1 of them very good in regards to machinery. decisions decisions ;-)

Mladin has previously denied that he would be interested in making a return to the world stage, after experiences with lesser teams and on lesser equipment left him disillusioned. He would only go if he was offered a ride on a top bike with a top team, he said, and he wasn't holding his breath, as the World Superbike paddock was singularly unimpressed with the level of racing in the AMA.

Ben Spies' success changed all that. Noriyuki Haga was the only man capable of challenging Spies on a regular basis, and he did so on the bike and with the team that had won the 2008 championship. If Spies was so good, the thinking ran, and Spies had so much trouble beating Mat Mladin, then how good must Mladin be?

Good enough to land a prime offer in World Superbikes, it now appears. Mladin has long been linked to Yoshimura Suzuki's return to the World Superbike paddock, and with the situation in the AMA still looking grim and the Japanese branch of Yoshimura fielding wildcards in World Superbikes in 2010, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that Mladin could ride in WSBK next season. With all the factory seats already taken, that narrows Mladin's options down considerably, but that single Twitter posting does raise a mouthwatering prospect. Could Mladin do a Spies? We'll know soon enough ...

~~~ UPDATE ~~~

Visordown is reporting that the team Mladin is being linked to is the new BMW privateer squad, which we reported on last week. According to Visordown, Alfred Inzinger, who ran the Power Horse Ducati squad that Troy Corser won his first World Superbike title on, has become involved with the Reitwagen Racing BMW squad, due to field Roland Resch in 2010. Dutch website had already alluded to rumors that the team were chasing a big name rider to go alongside the inexperienced Resch, and few names are bigger than Mat Mladin.

Mladin would certainly be a huge PR boost for BMW, and help the team secure strong support from the Bavarian factory. What's more, Mladin has in the past sworn that he would not go to WSBK unless he had assurances about the level of machinery and the level of competence in the team. With the team being managed by a former world championship-winning manager, and strong backing from Germany, this could be sufficient for Mladin to change his mind.

It's all just rumor for the moment, but there's an awful lot of pieces that seem to make sense.

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to the WSBK grid. I tweeted Mat last night (not that he'd know me from Adam) to say so! Any delusions about this guys ability to ride a superbike would fall to the wayside in a hurry. He credits Ben Spies for motivating him and extending his career in the AMA. All it took was the DMG clown posse to run him out of it!

I noted when the recent Yoshimura announcement was made that Mat joining WSBK would be the next logical conclusion. We now know that the Yosh deal is not designed to be a full time gig. That may suit Mat perfectly. Just enough time to blast over to Europe and kick a few tails and then back to Aus. Might even give him the motivation to buy a bigger plane! With VW buying 20% into Suzuki now they may have enough cash to pay his salary.

No doubt the man has cajones and loads of drive and talent. I think he would do well in WSBK. I would think with the right machinery under him he would be very competitive. But he would no doubt be the villain. No matter what series he is in he will still be a jerk. I say go for it. It would be nice to dislike someone more than Biaggi.

If Mladin runs the full 2010 WSBK series and has as good ride. This series will be my favorite, again!
Matt Mladin – if you read these post. Please run the 2010 WSBK series. This will give the wife and kids a chance to see the world!

and he didn't do so well. Not to say he won't do well in WSBK, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Ben is the better rider, and his performance last year proved it even more so.

Yes he was in 500s, and that was a very long time ago. He was on a semi competitive bike, with some experience of winning races but no experience on a 500 and no experience of setting up a bike - any bike. He found himself with a factory who wanted him - at least the top brass did. The team did not. They were less than helpful. In fact they were downright hostile. Many, many things have changed since then.

The year before he went to 500s, Mat spent with Team Kawasaki Australia. He was 17 years old and in his first year of competition. He competed in the Australian superbike championship and decimated it. Having wrapped up the championship with a couple of rounds to go, he was offered the chance to enter the Australian round of the WSB as a wildcard. The catch was that he would ride his AU champ bike - a far lower spec machine than the WSB bikes. He won both races, and his speedway style exit of the last corner onto the front straight, every lap, will live long in the heart of this writer.

Oh, his chief mechanic / crew chief / race engineer / coach for that year? Does the name Peter Doyle mean anything?


Undoubtedly Matt was/is one hell of a rider...

When he doesn't have to race Ben Spies... Especially when he is on the best equipment... Riding with traction control when no one else has it... He's the man!

Actually, it would be great to see him in WSBK. We could see how he measures up on the 2nd tier (not 1st tier) world level. Do we have to ask ourselves why Matt never moved up from AMA to the World level and stayed there? Was it a case of "better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond?"

I don't know, but it would be great to see whether Matt could live up to what Ben Spies did this year. Of course if Matt comes back in WSBK with BMW and doesn't do as well, he could always say it was the bike...

I will give him credit though. You have to be doing something right to win that many championships. It will be interesting to see if those AMA championship trophies hold their luster in the harsh glare of the WSBK spotlight if in fact he does come back.


respectfully, your snide remarks about traction control are misplaced. I personally have seen Mladin doing things on a 750cc AU domestic spec superbike that would put your heart in your mouth. And I promise you, that bike did not have traction control.

Have you seen Garry McCoy sliding a roadrace bike on asphalt like a speedway bike? Well before there was McCoy, there was Mladin.



I admit my lead may have had a somewhat baiting tone to it. But in Matt's case, I think it somewhat deserved considering Matt's propensity to "speak his mind" so to say.

Nonetheless, Matt did a lot of winning and I give him credit for that. If you watched him race domestically in person then you have a perspective that I do not and fair credit is due there. But, Matt did in fact have traction control in the AMA and used it quite well when others didn't have it. So I would suggest that Matt's wins should be discounted a bit. How much is up for discussion, but he did get an advantage that others didn't have for a few seasons.

Again, I'll not argue that Matt is not an excellent rider. He is. But on the world level, I wouldn't put him there with the best of the best. I think Matt played a smart game.

Make big money in AMA.

Win a lot of championships.

Enjoy it while he could.

When it isn't fun anymore leave.

It will be interesting to see if he comes back. Especially if he comes back with BMW.

And it smells awfully like a red herring.

As I understand it Mladin has repeatedly said he dislikes the idea of all the travel involved with the international circuses, and even less so now he has a young family.

That said I'm sure he's had plenty of top tier rides placed before him over the years for WSBK. Any team manager worth his salt would know the talent Mladin has regardless of the fact he plied his trade as a big fish in a small pond.

What would make this offer different? Well there's got to be plenty of moolah involved - especially if the ride is the unproven Beemer. Another factor being that retirement is such a difficult thing for riders going out fit and at the top of their game. Lastly, yes the Spies factor would certainly have allayed any fears (not that I believe he has any - but an influence nonetheless) he may have had about Europe after the scarring Cagiva experience when he was a green youngster.

Bring it on. His aggressive riding and direct personality can only add to the WSBK spectacle.

After Mr. Mladin loudly berated the thought of racing against BMW' in the AMA series when DMG' original plan was unveiled only a year ago, you'd have to really wonder about his motivations to make this rumor stick. The Villain would have an uphill battle on any bike.

Look, I don't know if Mat is going to WSB, or if he even should. He's had a long and successful career and he's almost ready to give it up. That isn't the ideal preparation to enter a new and higher class. In Ben Spies he found his equal or more than. Ben provided the motivation and incentive to go a bit harder and a bit longer, but Ben's gone up another class now, so why bother?

His abortive and frustrating year on 500s with Cagiva has left Mat with deep and burning contempt for the entire edifice. He doesn't want to go back and compete in 'World' anything. He's one of a number of Aussies and Kiwis who have shone briefly on the world stage and left with a bitter taste in their mouths.

On the other hand, if he does throw caution tp the wind, I for one will be watching each and every race with bated breath. Roll on 2010.


Mladin was paid more in the AMA than all (or virtually all depending on the year) WSBK riders. Hmmm, tough choice to stick around all those years....

For those who think he's "second tier," have you learned nothing?

That BMW will start to come good if Mladin throws a leg over it...

I for one rate Mladin higher than Corser. Should we be so lucky then yeah he'll get that thing going real good.

Motorcycles fall over if you don't go fast

I for one rate Mladin higher than Corser. Should we be so lucky then yeah he'll get that thing going real good.

Motorcycles fall over if you don't go fast

The Corser-Mladin comparison would be the most interesting. Both aging Aussie's achievements have been similar with Corser moving about the world with many manufacturers while Mladin settling down in one place (giving no judgment on either path). To have them on the same basic bike would be most interesting. Maybe Bayliss can bail Gobert out of jail and make a league of it.

For those who believe Mladin's results in AMA were based on a bike with some sort of advantage, I ask you to look further back in Suzuki history. When Mladin joined the team they were firmly out of the running and had one title in the previous 20 years and that was 10 years before Mat came along.

The bike was a nail for a long time and yet Mladin still dominated.