NEW ORLEANS (Oct. 3) — Clinching the 2012 AMA GoPro Daytona SportBike title with room to spare has given two-time class champion Martin Cardenas plenty of reasons to look forward to this weekend’s season-ending Triumph Big Kahuna New Orleans at NOLA Motorsports Park.
“I can come to NOLA and just ride my GEICO Suzuki without any pressure,” said the 29-year-old Colombian rider, who donned the ’12 crown two weeks ago in Miami. “It will be just like riding when you are young and all you think about is trying to get on the podium. There are no expectations. We can just have some fun with the team and celebrate what we’ve accomplished this year.”
Cardenas and his Frank Aragaki-led crew will be looking to add to their stellar 2012 resume that already features seven victories, four runner-up results and one third-place finish in 17 races. The group has helped Cardenas start from the pole position seven times and lead the most laps in a race on nine occasions.
“The team has been exceptional,” said Cardenas, who also won the 2010 Daytona SportBike championship. “From John and Chris Ulrich, to Frank and the crew, Aaron Henry, Nathan Raptis, Rick Kress, Tim Anderson, Scott Crawford and James Siddall, everyone has contributed to this championship.”
NOLA Motorsports Park, a 2.75-mile, 16-turn track south of downtown New Orleans, is hosting its first GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing event, although riders got a chance to test at the facility in late June.
“It’s a very nice racetrack, lots of turns and areas for passing,” Cardenas said. “We ran pretty well there in the test but of course it will be different this time as the weather will be a bit cooler maybe and the track will have a few more months of seasoning.
“There are two races left and they both happen this weekend so we’re going to do all we can to win. As I said, we have no pressure, no need to protect our position or anything like that, so we can be aggressive and ride to win.”
Racing starts with a practice session at noon, Friday, followed by the first qualifying session at 3 p.m. Qualifying resumes with a second and final session at 8:50 a.m., Saturday, which will set the field for both races. Race 1 takes place at 2 p.m., Saturday, with Race 2 slated for 2:15 p.m., Sunday. SPEED TV will carry all the action.