Daytona Bike Week
Martin Cardenas kicked off his Superbike career for M4 Suzuki in promising fashion in Friday’s 2011 AMA Pro Superbike season opener at Daytona International Speedway.
The winningest rider in AMA Pro Daytona SportBike history piloted the #36 GSX-R1000 to an encouraging sixth-place result as he continues to steadily adapt to the powerful racebike.
Starting from sixth position after a strong run in the morning’s final qualifying session (1:38.980), Cardenas got away well off the line but a couple of early missteps cost the Colombian the all-important lead draft in the race’s opening stages.
He collected himself and ultimately registered a solid effort that demonstrated the potential for an even more competitive outing on Saturday.
Martin Cardenas (Suzuki GSX-R 1000) says: "It was a bit of a lonely race," the Colombian comments. "I made a good start but I made a few mistakes in the first few laps and I lost contact with the front guys.
"From then on I was alone and I tried to be consistent and tried to learn from each lap. It wasn’t disappointing but it wasn’t a great race, either. I was hoping to run with the front guys but we’re going to make some changes and hopefully be upfront tomorrow.
"If I hadn’t made those early mistakes, I think I might have been able to run with the leaders today. At one point during the race the gap was staying the same for some laps, so maybe, but you never know.
"We’re going to try to improve the rear grip of the bike, which is crucial on these big bikes and I’m struggling a little bit with that. But we definitely have some ideas and I think they will pay off tomorrow."
Teammate Chris Ulrich also rung up a top-ten result in the hotly contested Superbike class opener. The Californian got away in 11th position at the start after qualifying tenth (1:40.531) and worked his way up to ninth by the conclusion of the 15-lap affair.
Meanwhile, the team’s Daytona SportBike runners qualified for tomorrow’s 70th running of the legendary Daytona 200. Dane Westby improved six positions from Thursday’s showing, qualifying his GSX-R1000 in tenth position with a quick lap of 1:52.129.
Westby, who finished as the runner-up in last year’s 200-miler, will look to work his way up in what promises to be a test of speed and endurance.
Santiago Villa will open his Daytona 200 from the fifth row, qualifying 18th best. The Colombian clocked a best time of 1:54.124 to earn a starting position in the middle of a very deep field.
M4 Suzuki will be out in search of glory on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway as they tackle the second half of the weekend’s Superbike doubleheader and the prestigious Daytona 200.