MONTEREY, Calif. (July 27) — Championship points leader Martin Cardenas used Friday’s first practice session at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix to let all of his peers in the AMA GoPro Daytona SportBike class know that he’s definitely the man to beat this weekend. Cardenas turned a best lap of 1:27.952 around the 11-turn, 2.23-mile Laguna Seca course to pace opening day action on his GEICO Suzuki GSX-R.
“It’s only the first practice session so we won’t get too excited but we’re very pleased with this start,” Cardenas said. “Both of the bikes performed well and were very easy to ride. The GEICO crew did a fantastic job of preparing these Suzukis for me.”
Cardenas enters the weekend with a commanding 40-point lead over M4 stablemate Dane Westby, who was fifth quickest with a 1:28.577. There are just seven races left on the 2012 AMA Pro Road Racing schedule, including Sunday’s main event from Laguna Seca.
The Daytona SportBike category will have two qualifying sessions Saturday. The first begins at 8 a.m. and the second at 12:20 p.m. Sunday opens with a quick warm-up session at 8 a.m., with the 20-lap main event scheduled for 11:15 a.m. PST.
“I believe there are small adjustments that can be made to make us even quicker,” the 29-year-old Colombian said. “The baseline from today is very good so we have a great starting point. Not much needs to be done but if we can find a way to be even a little bit better, then we will go for it.”
Tommy Hayden was second quickest Friday with a 1:28.004. Cameron Beaubier was third best with a 1:28.465.
Cardenas has won six of the first 12 races this year. His 22 career Daytona SportBike victories are the most ever in the class.