Laguna Seca Runner-up Finish Yields Cardenas Huge Points Gain

MONTEREY, Calif. (July 29) — The disappointment of getting passed on the last lap and settling for runner-up honors at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix quickly was replaced by jubilation throughout the GEICO Suzuki pit when the new championship rankings showed rider Martin Cardenas ahead of his nearest rival by a whopping 64 points.

Cardenas entered the weekend 40 points ahead of second-place Dane Westby in the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike class, but after earning the pole, leading the most laps in the main event, and finishing second — combined with Westby’s shocking first-lap crash that eventually relegated him to 18th place — Cardenas came out the big winner on the day.

“Of course, we wanted the win,” Cardenas said. “This is why we race, to win. But second place is a good result and now that I find out what happened to Dane and see the new points structure, we have obviously made a great gain today.”

The rankings now show Cardenas 64 points ahead of Westby and 80 clear of both Cameron Beaubier and Tommy Hayden, who are tied for third.

Cardenas got the holeshot in Sunday’s race and was never really challenged until Beaubier made his move at the start of the final circuit around the 11-turn, 2.23-mile track. Beaubier went on to win, followed by Cardenas and Hayden.

“Cameron made a good move to pass me,” Cardenas admitted. “I was expecting him to try something in Turn 5 and I had an idea of how to shut the door, but he surprised me in Turn 1 and made the pass. I wanted to try to get back around him because I felt the race was ours, but I also didn’t want to give anything more away. He had just enough cushion that he was able to hold the position. Aside from that, it was a perfect race for us and we are happy.”

With just three stops and six races left on the GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing schedule, Cardenas says he has no plans of playing it safe to defend his No. 1 ranking moving forward.

“This isn’t how we race,” said Cardenas, a six-time winner this season. “We try to win every event for our sponsors and our team. It is important to not ride defensively. Why should we change what has worked so well for us all year?

“I’m ready for the next race. I’m excited to continue.”

The Devil’s Showdown takes place Sept. 7-9 at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, N.J. The AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike class will race twice at the event.

Cardenas Conquers Laguna Qualifying For 4th Pole of 2012

MONTEREY, Calif. (July 28) — Qualifying for the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike category was limited to just three circuits around the 11-turn, 2.24-mile course at Laguna Seca, but GEICO Suzuki rider Martin Cardenas made the most of his brief time on track, posting a top-qualifying time of 1:27.575 to lead the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.

This marks the fourth time in eight rounds this year that Cardenas has qualified on top of the field. He’s gone on to win from the pole three times, twice at Road Atlanta and once at Miller Motorsports Park.

“It’s definitely the best position to start the race,” Cardenas said. “We are very happy. I’m glad we had a chance to put a few laps down today because it is a little bit cooler and we found some time and managed to improve by four hundredths of a second.”

There were two qualifying sessions scheduled for Saturday but AMA officials scrubbed the early one due to fog and moisture on the racing surface. The second round was then shortened by an accident that collected six riders.

“My work day was very easy; only three laps,” Cardenas joked. “I would have liked to had more time, as I’m sure everyone else would agree, but this weekend is busy with the MotoGP riders here so they just combined yesterday’s practice times with the few laps we made today and set the field.”

With six victories and a 40-point lead in the championship points, the 29-year-old Colombian already was a favorite for Sunday’s main event, a fact that was punctuated by the performance from his Frank Aragaki-tuned GSX-R 600 on Saturday morning. Cardenas was the only rider in the top 10 to improve.

“Although we lost some track time today I don’t think the bikes could be any better than they are right now,” Cardenas said. “Frank and the crew have done a remarkable job all year and they are really impressing me right now.

“It’s fun to lead the way at any race and maybe a bit more when the eyes of the motorcycle world are on us. I am ready to race and anxious to get another win.”

GEICO Suzuki Rider Cardenas Makes Statement in 1st Laguna Seca Practice

MONTEREY, Calif. (July 27) — Championship points leader Martin Cardenas used Friday’s first practice session at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix to let all of his peers in the AMA GoPro Daytona SportBike class know that he’s definitely the man to beat this weekend. Cardenas turned a best lap of 1:27.952 around the 11-turn, 2.23-mile Laguna Seca course to pace opening day action on his GEICO Suzuki GSX-R.

“It’s only the first practice session so we won’t get too excited but we’re very pleased with this start,” Cardenas said. “Both of the bikes performed well and were very easy to ride. The GEICO crew did a fantastic job of preparing these Suzukis for me.”

Cardenas enters the weekend with a commanding 40-point lead over M4 stablemate Dane Westby, who was fifth quickest with a 1:28.577. There are just seven races left on the 2012 AMA Pro Road Racing schedule, including Sunday’s main event from Laguna Seca.

The Daytona SportBike category will have two qualifying sessions Saturday. The first begins at 8 a.m. and the second at 12:20 p.m. Sunday opens with a quick warm-up session at 8 a.m., with the 20-lap main event scheduled for 11:15 a.m. PST.

“I believe there are small adjustments that can be made to make us even quicker,” the 29-year-old Colombian said. “The baseline from today is very good so we have a great starting point. Not much needs to be done but if we can find a way to be even a little bit better, then we will go for it.”

Tommy Hayden was second quickest Friday with a 1:28.004. Cameron Beaubier was third best with a 1:28.465.

Cardenas has won six of the first 12 races this year. His 22 career Daytona SportBike victories are the most ever in the class.

6-Time Winner Cardenas Hoping To Build on Sizable Points Lead

MONTEREY, Calif. (July 26) – With just seven races spread across four events left in the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SuperBike Series, Martin Cardenas knows every good finish will take him one step closer to clinching the 2012 championship for the GEICO Suzuki team.

“It’s difficult to win in the class because the competition is so tough,” Cardenas said. “But I think we’ll be able to get a good result this weekend and earn more points toward that championship.”

On Sunday, Cardenas is looking to register win No. 7 on the season during the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway.

“I hope we’ll be fighting for the top spot again this weekend,” Cardenas said. “The team has been giving me good bikes to ride and Sunday should be no different.”

Cardenas, who has six wins on the season, leads second-place rider Dane Westby by 40 points going into this weekend’s race. With Tommy Hayden in third, 34 points behind Westby, the championship fight is shaping up to be a two-man duel.

Laguna Seca is one of the tracks Cardenas looks most forward to racing. He holds the SportBike class track record for the event when he conquered the 11-turn, 2.238-mile course in 2010. This year’s main event will be 20 laps, Cardenas’ record came during a 23-lap main that finished in record 34 minutes, 4.080 seconds.

“It would say it is one of my favorite places to race,” Cardenas said. “So I’m very excited to race here. The layout has a lot of fast corners and is very flowing. I’ve had many good results here in the past.”

Practice for the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBikes gets under way at 12:20 p.m. PDT Friday from Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway. The first qualifying session gets under way at 8 a.m. Saturday with the second session at around noon. The race will be at 11:15 a.m. Sunday. SPEED will broadcast the race at 11 p.m. EDT Sunday.