Championship In Hand, Cardenas Pushes Hard For Win Only To Crash Late

NEW ORLEANS (Oct. 6) — With just two laps remaining in Saturday’s Big Kahuna New Orleans, newly-crowned GoPro Daytona SportBike champion Martin Cardenas had just one thought as he led the field around Turn 16 and onto the front straightaway — “Today I was not going to be second.”

Locked in a tight battle with Cameron Beaubier from mid-race on, Cardenas had just retaken the lead he held for the first 13 laps when he lost the front end of his GEICO Suzuki. The 29-year-old Colombian slid to a stop in a grassy run-off area and immediately jumped to his feet in an attempt to rejoin the race, but the damage to his bike was too much for him to continue and he was forced to resign from the contest.

“I got a little bit outside the line and just lost grip,” said Cardenas, a seven-time winner this season. “It happened very quickly. Cameron and I were having a great battle and I knew it would go down to the very end between us.

“Having the title already, I was able to take a chance. He had followed me for several laps and then took the lead. I went right back around the first chance that I had and was feeling comfortable again in the lead. We got through a few turns and were just going into 16 when it happened. No problem. I am fine. We try again tomorrow.”

A prerace concern about tire life on the brand-new racing surface proved to be a non-factor and Cardenas actually praised Dunlop for the racing tires he used.

“It was never an issue,” Cardenas said. “Just normal wear and tear. That’s not why I went down. We’ve had a slight problem the last few races with the rear end. It’s just sliding a little too much. Just barely off, but off. The tires were not a problem for me.”

The race was red-flagged in Lap 2 after a scary crash between Jake Gagne and Bobby Fong, who shared the front row with Cardenas and Beaubier. Fortunately, Cardenas had gotten the jump and already had a slight gap on the field when it happened so he wasn’t disrupted by the incident.

On the restart, Cardenas once again got a great start and gapped the field before Beaubier began tracking him down, eventually catching him with nine laps to go. An extremely tight fight between the two carried forward until the accident.

“I expect we’ll have another great race, just like today, when we line up tomorrow,” Cardenas said. “And once again I will try to win.”

Saturday’s race will air on SPEED TV, as will Sunday’s season finale, which begins at 2:15 p.m. at NOLA Motorsports Park.

New Champ Cardenas Will Hold Nothing Back at Season Finale

NEW ORLEANS (Oct. 3) — Clinching the 2012 AMA GoPro Daytona SportBike title with room to spare has given two-time class champion Martin Cardenas plenty of reasons to look forward to this weekend’s season-ending Triumph Big Kahuna New Orleans at NOLA Motorsports Park.

“I can come to NOLA and just ride my GEICO Suzuki without any pressure,” said the 29-year-old Colombian rider, who donned the ’12 crown two weeks ago in Miami. “It will be just like riding when you are young and all you think about is trying to get on the podium. There are no expectations. We can just have some fun with the team and celebrate what we’ve accomplished this year.”

Cardenas and his Frank Aragaki-led crew will be looking to add to their stellar 2012 resume that already features seven victories, four runner-up results and one third-place finish in 17 races. The group has helped Cardenas start from the pole position seven times and lead the most laps in a race on nine occasions.

“The team has been exceptional,” said Cardenas, who also won the 2010 Daytona SportBike championship. “From John and Chris Ulrich, to Frank and the crew, Aaron Henry, Nathan Raptis, Rick Kress, Tim Anderson, Scott Crawford and James Siddall, everyone has contributed to this championship.”

NOLA Motorsports Park, a 2.75-mile, 16-turn track south of downtown New Orleans, is hosting its first GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing event, although riders got a chance to test at the facility in late June.

“It’s a very nice racetrack, lots of turns and areas for passing,” Cardenas said. “We ran pretty well there in the test but of course it will be different this time as the weather will be a bit cooler maybe and the track will have a few more months of seasoning.

“There are two races left and they both happen this weekend so we’re going to do all we can to win. As I said, we have no pressure, no need to protect our position or anything like that, so we can be aggressive and ride to win.”

Racing starts with a practice session at noon, Friday, followed by the first qualifying session at 3 p.m. Qualifying resumes with a second and final session at 8:50 a.m., Saturday, which will set the field for both races. Race 1 takes place at 2 p.m., Saturday, with Race 2 slated for 2:15 p.m., Sunday. SPEED TV will carry all the action.

Video: GEICO Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas Wins The AMA Pro Daytona SportBike Championship At Homestead-Miami Speedway


Martin Cardenas and GEICO Suzuki clinched the 2012 AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike Championship at the penultimate round of the series, at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The September 22-23 Triumph Big Kahuna weekend provided variable weather conditions; Martin finished second in the dry on Saturday, then rode a conservative race in the wet on Sunday to wrap up his second AMA Pro Championship with one round to spare.

GEICO’s Cardenas Clinches Second Daytona SportBike Championship

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Sept. 23) — The first rain race of the 2012 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Road Racing ended with Martin Cardenas under a shower of confetti as he officially clinched the GoPro Daytona SportBike championship with a safe fourth-place result Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

This is the second class championship for Cardenas in the last three years. He won the 2010 Daytona SportBike title before switching to Superbike last season. The 29-year-old Colombian returned to Daytona SportBike this year with the GEICO Suzuki team and leads the class with seven race wins and 12 overall podium finishes.

“It feels great to get this done with a little extra room to spare,” Cardenas said. “We built up a pretty good points lead earlier in the season and it has been stressful at time maintaining the gap. You always want to race to win each weekend but when you have a big lead in the points you also feel as though you don’t want to make a big mistake.

“Every race and every lap since maybe the middle of the summer has been a test. You stay very focused on limiting your mistakes and just riding to the best of your abilities. We have been able to do that this year and I’m very pleased.”

Cardenas was quick to thank his many sponsors, including GEICO Motorcycle, Suzuki, Lucas Oil, Team Hammer, M4, Arai, STG, Vortex, Hot Bodies, Alpine Stars, Speedcell and Galfer.

“How can you ever thank your sponsors enough?” Cardenas said. “Their support of this team gives us the ability to race at a championship level. I am very grateful for all of them.

“This race team is the best. Frank Aragaki (crew chief), Aaron Henry, Nathan Raptis, Rick Kress, Tim Anderson, Scott Crawford, James Siddall, and Chris and John Ulrich — all of them were instrumental to winning this championship.”

With one race left on the schedule, the Big Kahuna New Orleans, Oct. 5-7, at the NOLA facility in Louisiana, Cardenas remains focused on finishing strong, not what he’ll be doing next year.

“Now we can ride with no worries and try to get a couple more trophies at NOLA,” Cardenas said. “Of course, there are rumors about my return to Superbike but nothing has been decided. Maybe that will change before NOLA. I don’t know. We’ll have to see what happens. For now, we will race the GEICO Suzuki and try to win again.”