Team M4 Monster Energy Suzuki came out hot in the sweltering heat at Barber Motorsports Park to open the 2010 AMA Pro Road Racing season finale weekend. Martin Cardenas and John Hopkins both registered provisional front row qualifying performances to kick off what they both hope will be a weekend to remember.
All eyes are on Cardenas this weekend as he attempts to claim the Daytona SportBike crown. Currently sitting a close third in the title chase, just 12 points removed from the lead and with a class-leading seven victories to his name, the Colombian very much remains a threat with the weekend’s two SportBike finals yet to be run.
Martin is aiming to come up big at Barber Motorsports Park once again, a circuit he collected a sensational double victory at in 2009. He ended Friday ranked fourth fastest in qualifying, logging a 1:28.961 aboard his GSX-R600 in a hard-fought session.
Cardenas said, “I thought we were going to be a little higher up on the charts but the bike is working really good. I think tomorrow is going to be a little bit faster in qualifying because of the cooler temperature in morning, so we’ll try tomorrow to push a little bit harder and try to get pole.”
While the former Spanish Supersport champion generally bids his time before striking late in the races, his championship position means he may have to change up his approach this weekend in search of the bonus points available for pole position and laps lead.
“Definitely tomorrow I will try very hard for pole. We’ll see how the race goes but I will have the bonus points in mind. It’s pretty exciting. This weekend is exciting for everybody — us as riders and also for the fans who have come out to watch the races. It’s going to be fun.”
Fresh off a first-career AMA Superbike podium result rung up in the series’ most recent race at New Jersey Motorsports Park three weeks back, Hopkins continued to show his considerable talent.
As his surgically repaired wrist continues to get stronger and stronger, the Californian is at last allowed to demonstrate his true potential on the team’s GSX-R1000 Superbike. On Friday Hopkins battled for provisional pole and ranked atop the charts late before ultimately finishing the session ranked an impressive third fastest at 1:26.027.
Meanwhile, Chris Ulrich was 14th best in a competitive field, posting a 1:28.222 during the first of two qualifying sessions despite pain from two recent high-speed crashes that have left him bruised and battered. In spite of the residual issues from his New Jersey crash plus an off at Willow Springs, the determined Ulrich is aiming to score his 15th and 16th top ten results of his 2010 AMA Superbike campaign. Ulrich had a very positive test earlier this season at Barber and the veteran has an eye on moving up from eighth to seventh in the final season tally.
A vital Saturday of final qualifying and race action awaits Team M4 Monster Energy Suzuki at Barber Motorsports Park.