MONTEREY, Calif. (July 28) — Qualifying for the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike category was limited to just three circuits around the 11-turn, 2.24-mile course at Laguna Seca, but GEICO Suzuki rider Martin Cardenas made the most of his brief time on track, posting a top-qualifying time of 1:27.575 to lead the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.
This marks the fourth time in eight rounds this year that Cardenas has qualified on top of the field. He’s gone on to win from the pole three times, twice at Road Atlanta and once at Miller Motorsports Park.
“It’s definitely the best position to start the race,” Cardenas said. “We are very happy. I’m glad we had a chance to put a few laps down today because it is a little bit cooler and we found some time and managed to improve by four hundredths of a second.”
There were two qualifying sessions scheduled for Saturday but AMA officials scrubbed the early one due to fog and moisture on the racing surface. The second round was then shortened by an accident that collected six riders.
“My work day was very easy; only three laps,” Cardenas joked. “I would have liked to had more time, as I’m sure everyone else would agree, but this weekend is busy with the MotoGP riders here so they just combined yesterday’s practice times with the few laps we made today and set the field.”
With six victories and a 40-point lead in the championship points, the 29-year-old Colombian already was a favorite for Sunday’s main event, a fact that was punctuated by the performance from his Frank Aragaki-tuned GSX-R 600 on Saturday morning. Cardenas was the only rider in the top 10 to improve.
“Although we lost some track time today I don’t think the bikes could be any better than they are right now,” Cardenas said. “Frank and the crew have done a remarkable job all year and they are really impressing me right now.
“It’s fun to lead the way at any race and maybe a bit more when the eyes of the motorcycle world are on us. I am ready to race and anxious to get another win.”