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AMA Sportbike / Superbike

Team M4 Monster Energy Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas kept his 2010 AMA Pro Daytona SportBike title hopes alive and well on Sunday at Virginia International Raceway, avoiding near disaster and scoring a top-five result at the conclusion of another dramatic afternoon of racing.

One day after missing out on his seventh victory of the season in an impossibly close photo finish, Martin had to work his way up into contention in Sunday’s contest. He dropped to as low as 11th position before clawing his way back to up the leaders aboard his GSX-R600.

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His climb was aided by a red flag, but even after the restart, the Colombian had to charge forward from a couple seconds back to make his entrance into the hard-charging pack disputing the lead.

The top five riders relentlessly traded positions over the races final several laps, each man quickly countering the others’ strikes. On the final lap, four of the contenders dove into the opening corner alongside one another late on the brakes, and unfortunately Martin was caught out as they jockeyed for position.

Cardenas made the lightning quick judgment to run through the grass rather than risk a crash. He managed remain upright and reenter the fray quickly enough to finish the race in fifth position.

Martin Cardenas says: “Four of us came into the first turn and I was to the inside and I broke a little bit too deep and I couldn’t make the turn. I sat up to avoid a very possible crash because that turn is very slippery. I ran off a little bit and that was the end of our chance to win today.”

“Fifth is definitely better than a crash so it’s not so bad. We’ll hope for a better weekend in New Jersey.”

Cardenas now sits a close third in the championship standings with 293 points, two out of second and 14 back of the lead with four races remaining.

Meanwhile, teammate Chris Ulrich took a big step forward in Sunday’s race. After struggling somewhat over the weekend, Ulrich hit upon a favorable set-up for his GSX-R1000 in time for Sunday’s Superbike race and registered a convincing performance as a result.

Ulrich outpaced some of the field’s heavy hitters en route to a seventh-place result, his 13th top ten in 15 outings this season. He currently sits seventh in the championship fight with 176 points.

Chris Ulrich says: “The main obstacle this weekend was in qualifying. I had a very good lap going and I crashed. That put me on the fourth row, so that put us behind a little bit. We got a top ten yesterday and we got seventh today and flat out earned that. I’m pleased with it. We made a lot of changes overnight and we made some changes on the grid and they really paid off.”

After Saturday’s encouraging ride, John Hopkins chose to sit out Sunday’s AMA Pro American Superbike contest to allow his wrist further time to recover. Citing general soreness following his return to action after an extended layoff rather than any structural issues, Hopkins considered it wiser to continue his rehab and come back even stronger for the next round rather than subject his wrist to any further strain this weekend.

M4 Monster Energy Suzuki head into the season’s penultimate round at New Jersey Motorsports Park on Sept. 3-5 particularly confident.

Chris Ulrich says: “This was a tough weekend but I’m glad to come out of here with a couple top tens and continue on. We were knocking on the door for a top five earlier in the year and I think we’ll get back to that at New Jersey and Barber. Last year, New Jersey was a real big weekend for me and really did a lot for my confidence heading into this season. I’m pumped going in there.”

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