John Hopkins: 1st AMA Superbike Podium

New Jersey Superbike

Team M4 Monster Energy Suzuki followed up Martin Cardenas’ inspiring Saturday victory at New Jersey Motorsports Park with two additional podium results on Sunday, including the first AMA Superbike podium of John Hopkins’ career.

Cardenas’ quest for the 2010 AMA Pro Daytona SportBike crown found him once again battling a deep pack for the win on Sunday.

With ten riders contending in the lead group well into the contest, Cardenas bid his time in trademark fashion, regularly running in seventh and eighth position before making his customary late climb to the front.

The former Spanish Supersport champion struck in the opening turn of the penultimate lap, making a bold maneuver to leap from fourth to first place aboard his GSX-R600, but he was unable to hold his line after braking so deeply.

Martin was shuffled back down to fifth but caught a break on the final lap when two of his competitors fell just ahead of him, allowing him to score his 11th podium finish of the ’10 season.

With just the Barber Motorsports Park finale left in play, Cardenas is a close third in the title chase with 344 points, 12 removed from first and with the tiebreaker on his side.

Martin Cardenas says: “I thought that I could pull the move off but I went in a little bit too deep and it wasn’t possible. I lost my chance to win the race with that move because a couple guys came through and pushed me back a few more positions.”

“Going into the last lap I was fifth, but fortunately for me a couple riders in front of me crashed into one another, which allowed me to finish third. It’s an okay result; it would have been better to win, but it wasn’t possible this time. I will try next time.”

“My bike was working good again today just like yesterday. I’d like to thank the M4 Monster Energy Suzuki team for the great effort and we’ll try again in the next race.”

Meanwhile, Hopkins enjoyed a landmark achievement in the day’s Superbike contest that symbolized his return to form following a long, arduous process overcoming nagging wrist issues.

Hopkins got away with the front group at the start of the race but dropped all the way down to 13th after running off track.

A red flag gave him a second chance to make his mark and John took full advantage. Picking off rider after rider until arriving in fourth place, the former MotoGP star made a successful last-lap assault on the podium to come home in third, his first-ever AMA Superbike podium result.

John Hopkins says: “It was a really good race, but first and foremost, it’s just really good to be back on a motorcycle. Three-and-a-half months ago three doctors, including one who has done most of my surgeries, told me I had to retire.”

“But we kept searching and I found my new doctor, and he made a big operation — a complete wrist reconstruction — and we were 50/50 on it. Three and a half months later, here I am racing a motorcycle. It feels great.”

Talking in detail about his race, John explained, “I made a mistake before the red flag. I lost the rear and ran off the track and I was back in 12th or 13th place. But the restart gave me another chance.”

“From there I just had to make a lot of passes and come up through the field. I went in deep on the brakes in Turn 1 on the last lap to move into third and just rode defensively through the last lap, and here we are on the podium.”

“I just have to say thanks to my mechanics and the whole team for putting this all together. I hope this is just the start of good things to come. It’s been a long last couple years, but I sure had fun today. I hope we can continue that.”

Chris Ulrich had a memorable outing as well. Uncertain if he’d even be able to compete on Sunday following Saturday’s terrifying high-speed crash, Ulrich not only took to the track, he fought inside the Superbike top ten.

Extremely stiff and sore, Chris gritted his teeth and fought for eighth position, coming up a mere 0.114 seconds short of the spot at the flag. His ninth-place finish solidified his eighth-place championship ranking with just the season finale remaining on the calendar.

Chris Ulrich says: “I could have done without the red flag,” Ulrich admitted. “I felt like I could have worked my way up but I stiffened up a little after the red flag. I was gaining a little on the front group but I was still looking for a new line through the last corner because I didn’t need to be doing another 130mph tumble. I figured one out but it was a little bit too late to really take advantage.”

“I had a good little fight for eighth, but it was a tough day. It hurts to bend. It hurts to tuck in. I was suffering pretty badly physically and I’m just happy to have made it through and have a bit of time to go home now and get some treatment and heal up.

Team M4 Monster Energy will be chasing championship glory at the 2010 AMA Pro Road Racing season finale at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL on September 24-26.