AMA Pro Racing
Martin Cardenas and Team M4 Monster Energy Suzuki successfully completed their ultimate goal for the year on Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park, dramatically storming to a season finale double victory en route to the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike Championship.
Sunday’s ride was yet another brilliant and clutch performance from Cardenas, who delivered despite the treacherous conditions and multiple obstacles thrown in his path.
Cardenas broke free of his championship rivals in the early going but just as he took control of the lead nearly ten seconds in front of his primary title competitors, a red flag stopped the race and instantly erased his hard-earned advantage.
The Colombian was shuffled back to fifth in the order following the restart in what essentially became a nine-lap shootout for the crown, but he responded by skillfully slicing his way back to the front aboard his Suzuki GSX-R600. Martin reclaimed the lead late and held on to secure the title in the best possible fashion with yet another race victory.
Cardenas’ championship season truly was a monster year as he claimed a full half of the available race wins with nine victories in 18 attempts to go along with thirteen podium finishes in all.
Martin Cardenas says: “I got a good start and just tried to gap the riders I was fighting for the championship. By lap 12 we had something like seven seconds or more and I felt like we had the championship wrapped up but then the red flag came out. I was a little bit worried because that meant another start and it equaled everybody out. I knew those two guys were going to be back up front fighting for it and it was going to be a battle.”
“I lost some positions after the restart so I just tried to sit there and see what was happening. I made my move with two laps to go and just tried to put in two very good laps and maybe stretch a little bit of a gap.”
“It feels awesome to win the championship and I’m very happy for the team. I’m very grateful for my guys because they’ve been working very hard. This is the best team that I’ve ever been with and they deserve the championship.”
Team M4 Monster Energy Suzuki also got a brilliant performance from AMA Pro American Superbike pilot John Hopkins, who saved his best for last.
On the heels of two consecutive third-place rides, the Californian registered a career-best AMA Superbike ride by claiming a runner-up finish in the 2010 season finale.
Running with DOT-spec tires on his GSX-R1000 in the drying conditions, Hopkins managed his tires effectively and pushed for victory throughout an exciting multi-rider scrap.
John Hopkins says: “We had a good race. We got off the start pretty good and I knew if I was going to make any kind of dash I had to make a run early because I was on the DOTs and everyone else on the front row was on slick tires. I went to the front and got into the lead and from there it was a brawl. I basically just had to conserve the tires until the end of the race and rode in defensive mode.”
“It’s a huge blessing. Like I’ve said before, four months ago I didn’t have a wrist and now I’m racing again and racing at the front. I’m having more fun racing now than I’ve had in a lot of years. The M4 Monster Energy Suzuki has been awesome all year and it’s been capable of winning races. Unfortunately, I wasn’t on it much of the year but I’m glad we were able to show what it was capable of late in the season.”
Hopkins’ remarkable return to form following his mid-season wrist surgery allowed him to finish the season ranked in the top ten despite missing several rounds. He ended the year with 151 points, good enough for tenth overall.
Meanwhile, Chris Ulrich, who was forced to withdraw from the weekend due to injury, was also rewarded with an eighth-place season ranking at 188 points.
Team M4 Monster Energy Suzuki will be aiming to build upon their stunning success in 2011 with 2010 AMA Pro Daytona SportBike king Martin Cardenas already confirmed to return to the team next season.