Martin Cardenas Tops Daytona SportBike Qualifying at Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

NEWS July 4, 2009


Martin Cardenas Tops Daytona SportBike Qualifying at Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix

MONTEREY, Calif. (July 4, 2009) - While Martin Cardenas has set the 2009 AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL championship on its ear to the tune of six victories and a 51-point lead in the point standings, it took until today for the Colombian to score his first career pole position.

Riding the No. 36 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600, Cardenas posted a best lap at 1:27.585 (91.988 mph) around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to take the top starting spot for Sunday's race at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix. Cardenas has won five of the last six Daytona SportBike races and heads into the race leading Jamie Hacking in the point standings by a count of 255-204.

"I've never started from the pole," said Cardenas. "This is my first pole position ever and I'm very happy with it. I hope that tomorrow's race will be good again. It went pretty good. Yesterday, the bike was working okay and we managed to improve the setup every session. Today, in this qualifying session, the bike was great. I want to thank the team, M4, and all the sponsors, Suzuki, Arai, Arlen Ness, everybody. They're doing awesome. Everything can happen in a race, but I think we're going to be, like, five, six riders in the front and battling for all the race. It's going to be tough."

Joining Cardenas on the front row will be Ben Bostrom on the No. 1s Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6 at 1:28.035 (91.518 mph). Bostrom is making just his second Daytona SportBike start of the season at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix and won in his lone previous start, the prestigious Daytona 200 By Honda to open the 2009 campaign. Earlier in the afternoon, Bostrom qualified eighth for the American Superbike race.

"The front row, I don't like starting there, I'll be honest," Bostrom said. "We've got our work cut out. That tire is hard to ride on, that is for sure, so it's a real balancing act out there. You try to go fast and you actually go slower. It doesn't reward any kind of fast-paced riding. You've got to go out there and set your pace, be real gingerly on the tire and roll around. It's the strangest feeling to go out there and ride 80 percent and go 29-flat and ride 100 percent and go 29.5 and actually lose time. Hopefully, they'll get the tires a little more sorted. Hats off to the guys, they've been doing a great job."

Securing the inside of Row 2 was Bostrom's teammate, Josh Hayes on the No. 4 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6. Hayes posted a best qualifying lap at 1:28.122 (91.427 mph). Like Bostrom, Hayes is also making his first Daytona SportBike appearance since the Daytona 200 and he too is pulling double duty. He starts fifth in American Superbike.

"Actually, I think qualifying has been my best session so far," Hayes said. "We've made a few improvements to the bike. Ben (Bostrom) and I don't have a whole lot of time on this bike. Ben's got all of last year on the R6. For me, I'm still fairly new to the R6. I had a pretty good Daytona on it. Here, we're riding on different tires than what we rode on at Daytona with the Dunlop control tires. They're different here. I'm happy I'm third. It's the second row for this class, but I feel like I'm in a good position. If I ride a smart race, hopefully I'll be there at the end of that, too. I'm pretty happy with where I'm at."

Wearing patriotic, red, white and blue leathers on Independence Day, Josh Herrin completed the top four in Daytona SportBike qualifying with a lap at 1:28.144 (91.405 mph) on the No. 8 Graves Motorsports Yamaha YZF-R6. Unlike fellow Yamaha riders Bostrom and Hayes, Herrin has contested the full Daytona SportBike season and currently ranks fifth in the championship standings. He heads into Sunday's race looking for his first career Daytona SportBike win.

"I think it's one of the best qualifying efforts this year," Herrin said. "I'm back to the same format that we were at last year, so I'm able to do a little bit better. I'm still working on the Superpole thing. We threw on the soft today and it just didn't quite do the job, so we ended up going faster on the race tire within five laps of going out. I think tomorrow we're really prepared for the race. We're going to try and give it our all. We're one of the most consistent times right now. We're not just trying to throw in one good time. We had the chance to do a string of times and I think everything is great for tomorrow."

Jason DiSalvo, who has taken each of the last four Daytona SportBike Superpoles, qualified fifth today on the No. 40 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600 with a best lap at 1:28.170 (91.378 mph). The top nine riders in the session were covered by less than one second.

The 23-lap (50-mile) Daytona SportBike final takes the green flag on Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. local time.

More from a press release issued by Team M4 Suzuki:

Pole Position for Cardenas at Laguna Seca


For the fifth weekend in a row, a Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600 will be starting from the pole position in AMA Pro Daytona SportBike. While Jason DiSalvo's qualifying streak ended after four consecutive Superpole victories, teammate Martin Cardenas stepped up to lead the way today at Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA.

The Colombian has opened up a significant lead in the championship race thanks to his stellar race day form, winning six of the last eight contests, but Cardenas would readily admit that qualifying isn't typically his strong suit. However, he put on a qualifying clinic today, laying down a 1:27.585 to lead by 0.450 seconds in an otherwise tight session that saw that next 14 riders packed within one second of each other.

Remarkably, the pole position is the first of Cardenas' professional career.

"It's my first pole of any kind -- in Spain, Grand Prix, or here in America," Cardenas said. "I usually start from the second or third row so this is a very good result for us. I think not using the Superpole format this weekend helped because that puts a lot of pressure on you and you can't risk making any mistakes when you only have one lap. I prefer to get warmed up a little first.

"We tried the soft tire for the last five minutes and on my last lap I made everything good. That extra grip from the soft tire helped a lot."

Cardenas was already the fastest rider and only man in the 1:27 range before he fit a softer tire on his GSX-R to post his pole time. Not surprisingly, he feels optimistic about his chances on Sunday.

"The race set-up is also good," he confirmed. "We've been working all weekend on that and we're in pretty good shape for the race."

DiSalvo will open the 23-lap race from the inside of the third row, qualifying fifth fastest at 1:28.169, just 0.134 seconds off of a Team M4 Suzuki qualifying 1-2.

The New Yorker, who is currently ranked fourth in the championship standings, will look to claim his first win, sixth podium, and third Team M4 Suzuki 1-2 result tomorrow.

Sunday's 50-mile contest will get underway on Sunday at Laguna Seca at 3:30pm local time. Same-day television coverage of the Daytona SportBike race and all of the AMA Pro events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca airs on SPEED beginning at 9:00 p.m. PT on Sunday night  (late Sunday/early Monday at Midnight ET).


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