M4 Suzuki's Martin Cardenas led virtually the entire qualifying session for the Daytona SportBike class at Mazda Racdeway Laguna Seca today and he was at the top when it counted the most - at the end. And, believe it or not, it was the first pole position of any kind for the former 250cc Spanish Championship and Grand Prix racer."It is my first pole of any kind," Cardenas said. "In Spain or in Grand Prix or here. I never been a very good qualifier and I always have been second row, first row a few times. I think it helped me [having a regular qualifying session] because Superpole puts you a lot of pressure on you because it is only one lap and you can't make mistakes. For me I like it better to get warmed up and do some laps and one of those you can do like perfect, almost."The Columbian and his GSX-R600 lapped the 2.24-mile racetrack at a best of 1:27.586 and that was almost half a second ahead of his closest rival, Yamaha's Ben Bostrom. From there it was a gaggle of riders closely knit and if you removed Cardenas's time from the mix, 16 of them were in the same second."We tried the soft tire for that last five minutes and that lap I made everything good and got extra good grip from the soft tire and it helped a lot," Cardenas said. "The race setup is good also and we've been riding the tires all yesterday and today. Only the last five minutes we put the soft tire on the back. We've been working on race setup and I think it is good also."As for racing with the Yamaha's Bostrom and Josh Hayes, who haven't raced in the class since Daytona and who qualified second and third today, Cardenas said: "It will be good to do a good race with these guys because they are very good riders."Hayes was just a fraction behind his teammate Bostrom and just .021 of a second ahead of his other teammate Josh Herrin as the Yamaha R6s are second, third and fourth on the grid for tomorrow's race. M4 Suzuki's Jason DiSalvo was sixth, again just fractions ahead of Aprilia's Chaz Davies. Then came Yamaha's Tommy Aquino, Buell's Danny Eslick, Erion Honda's Jake Zemke and privateer Bobby Fong."We have our work cut out for us," Bostrom said. "That tire [the spec Dunlop] is hard to ride on. That is for sure. 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 pace riding. You have to be real gingerly on the tire and ride around. It's a strange feeling to ride at 80 percent and go 29 flat and then try 100 percent and go 29.5 and actually lose time. Hopefully they get the tires a little more sorted. That's not good practice for anybody and the lightest guy will win because everyone is stuck at the same speed through the corner so the guy who weighs the less is going to gain two-tenths off the corner."Daytona SportBike Qualifying

1.                  Martin Cardenas (Suzuki) 1:27.586

2.                  Ben Bostrom (Yamaha) 1:28.035

3.                  Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:28.123

4.                  Josh Herrin (Yamaha) 1:28.144

5.                  Jason DiSalvo (Suzuki) 1:28.170

6.                  Chaz Davies (Aprilia) 1:28.177

7.                  Tommy Aquino (Yamaha) 1:28.276

8.                  Danny Eslick (Buell) 1:28.276

9.                  Jake Zemke (Honda) 1:28.535

10.                  Bobby Fong (Yamaha) 1:28.663

AMA Pro Racing Headlines

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.

Comments