GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Race Recap:
Cardenas Wraps Up Second AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike Championship in Triumph Big Kahuna Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - It's hard to predict an AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike race, with a deep and talented field racing on a variety of machines that can provide similar performance levels. The two races at the Triumph Big Kahuna Miami presented by Dunlop were no exception. While Saturday's race saw Y.E.S/Graves/Yamaha's Cameron Beaubier earn win number six on the year, Sunday saw Jake Gagne (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull) win his first-ever GoPro Daytona SportBike race.
The headline event of the weekend was Martin Cardenas (GEICO Suzuki) clinching his second Daytona SportBike championship. The Colombian has been excellent in his return to the class, showing the pure speed to lead the pack and the consistency to win championships. His class leading seven victories this year were augmented by other strong finishes that allowed him to maintain (and often grow) his points lead throughout the summer. With a big points lead, Cardenas concentrated on getting big points each weekend, even if it meant restraint in going for victory at times in order to assure the championship. His second and fourth in Miami were excellent examples.
On Sunday, he'd mathematically eliminated all of his challengers with the doubleheader in New Orleans still to come.
"It feels great to get this done with a little extra room to spare," said the 2010 and 2012 AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike champion. "We built up a pretty good points lead earlier in the season and it has been stressful at time maintaining the gap. You always want to race to win each weekend but when you have a big lead in the points you also feel as though you don't want to make a big mistake. Every race and every lap since maybe the middle of the summer has been a test. You stay very focused on limiting your mistakes and just riding to the best of your abilities. We have been able to do that this year and I'm very pleased."
With two Daytona SportBike championships bookending a solid debut AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike season that saw him win a race, Cardenas is truly one of the stars of the series.
Cardenas' championship season has also seen the rise of Cameron Beaubier, the young Californian who has proven his talent after an early-season injury ended his hopes for the title. Beaubier has improved throughout the year, and his Saturday race where he was able to earn a 1.633-second victory over Cardenas was another case of him proving he has what it takes. Cardenas may have clinched the title, but Beaubier has made some thunder of his own in 2012.
"At the beginning of the race, I felt really comfortable, so I put my head down and concentrated on pulling a gap," he said. "I went with the soft tire, and that helped in the beginning, but I really had to conserve towards the end. It all worked out, though, and I'm happy to get the win for my team, and for Yamaha."
Beaubier backed up the win with third on Sunday in the wet.
Saddlemen "Rookie of the Year" leader Jake Gagne's breakthrough win on Sunday might not have been expected, but the signs have been there. His 2012 season has been a collection of bad luck and some uncharacteristic errors. The Californian's career in the US and Europe has been noted for speed and the ability to bring the bike home on two wheels. Until this year, he seldom crashed but arm pump issues caused him to lose feeling in his hands and Gagne tested his safety gear far more than normal before he had surgery to repair the issue. He also had bad luck, both mechanically and in his riding. On Saturday, Gagne set the fastest lap in the race and finished fifth, but he hit the kill switch early on and lost ground to the leaders getting it sorted out.
On Sunday, he fought hard with Dane Westby (M4 Suzuki), one of the best wet-weather riders in the series. As the laps wore down, the two riders gambled on how the tires would last if the track began to dry. Gagne felt they would last and pulled away. Westby thought it would dry and didn't pick up the pace. Gagne was right, and for his efforts earned his maiden GoPro Daytona SportBike win.
"Right away, I knew how fast we could go from the earlier practice (in the wet). I got behind Dane and we took off," said Gagne. "I saw we had a couple of seconds. I figured I'd try to get past Dane and see what we could do - up the pace and see if I could still stay on the bike. We ended up pulling a little gap. I did a couple of fast laps to get the gap.
"We've had ups and downs this year but this really makes up for it."
Westby's fourth and second were solid results that saw him maintain his second place in the points. The Oklahoman looked strong at times in Miami, in Sunday's aforementioned race and on Saturday when he was on a charge to catch up with Cardenas and Bobby Fong (Meen Motorsports) and dice for second until he lost a little ground at the end.
"I wasn't too worried about trying to keep up with the leader after I was passed. I figured he'd come back when the tire went away but it stayed wet so there wasn't any of that," said Westby. "I was being conservative with the tire. I thought it would dry off faster than it did."
Fong had another strong weekend as he earned third on Saturday. He has raced all season in a small team but produced some big results.
Plenty of riders left Miami with the pride of earning a top ten finish. They included Jake Zemke (Ducshop Ducati), Tommy Aquino (Kneedraggers.com Yamaha), Jason DiSalvo (Latus Motors Racing Triumph) on Saturday. On Sunday, David Gaviria (Kneedraggers.com Yamaha) had his best Daytona SportBike result yet, while Kris Turner (Turner's Cycle Racing), Huntley Nash (LTD Racing), and J.D. Beach (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull) earned fine results in the Florida rain.
One young rider that notched a fine weekend was Austin Dehaven of the Kneedraggers.com Yamaha team. Dehaven was injured earlier in the season but has come back strong with two top tens in Miami, ninth on Sunday and eighth on Saturday.
With the championship decided, the stage is set for an epic battle at the front at NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans. Cardenas, who has mentioned his desire to return to National Guard SuperBike next season, would like nothing better than to go out on top, but riders like Beaubier, Westby, and Gagne might have something to say about it.
Sunoco "Go the Distance" Standings
1. JD Beach - 2705.148 mi.
2. Dane Westby - 2616.65 mi.
3. Cory West - 2539.05 mi.
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike Results
Cameron Beaubier (YAM), 23 Laps
Martin Cardenas (SUZ), +1.633
Bobby Fong (YAM), +2.676
Dane Westby (SUZ), +6.304
Jake Gagne (YAM), +13.037
Jake Zemke (DUC), +19.715
Tommy Aquino (YAM), +19.860
Jason DiSalvo (TRI), +20.208
Austin Dehaven (YAM), +38.857
Joey Pascarella (SUZ), +39.298
David Gaviria (YAM), +39.557
Michael Beck (YAM), +51.088
Cory West (SUZ), +51.929
Barrett Long (DUC), +56.182
Huntley Nash (YAM), +1:07.744
Kenny Riedmann (TRI), +22 Laps
Fernando Amantini (KAW), +0.220
Melissa Paris (SUZ), +16.982
Nicollas Ferreira (YAM), +21 Laps
JD Beach (YAM), +8 Laps
Bryce Prince (YAM), +1:21.929
Shane Narbonne (YAM), +7 Laps
Kris Turner (TRI), +4 Laps
Benny Solis (YAM), +3 Laps
Jake Gagne (YAM), 23 Laps
Dane Westby (SUZ), +7.126
Cameron Beaubier (YAM), +14.248
Martin Cardenas (SUZ), +38.340
David Gaviria (YAM), +42.804
Kris Turner (TRI), +58.386
Huntley Nash (YAM), +1:02.987
Austin Dehaven (YAM), +1:05.013
JD Beach (YAM), +1:14.111
Joey Pascarella (SUZ), +1:20.014
Barrett Long (DUC), +1:24.051
Nicollas Ferreira (YAM), +1:33.704
Shane Narbonne (YAM), +22 Laps
Bryce Prince (YAM), +3.044
Fernando Amantini (KAW), +29.460
Kenny Riedmann (TRI), +40.587
Michael Beck (YAM), +41.486
Jason DiSalvo (TRI), 21 Laps
Tommy Aquino (YAM), 20 Laps
Bobby Fong (YAM), 9 Laps
Melissa Paris (SUZ), 4 Laps
Cory West (SUZ), 1 Lap
Jake Zemke (DUC), DNS
Benny Solis (YAM), DNS
Point Standings (Top 10)
Martin Cardenas, 415
Dane Westby, 339
Cameron Beaubier, 317
Tommy Hayden, 250
Jason DiSalvo, 225
Bobby Fong, 222
JD Beach, 215
Jake Zemke, 213
Joey Pascarella, 189
Cory West, 181
About GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing:
GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing is the premier motorcycle road racing series in North America and is universally regarded as one of the most competitive road racing organizations in the world. The 2012 schedule consists of 12 rounds of competition on the country's finest road courses. The Series is comprised of four production-based classes: AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike, AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike, AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport and the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series. Learn more about GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing at www.amaproracing.com/rr/.
About AMA Pro Racing:
AMA Pro Racing is the premier professional motorcycle racing organization in North America, operating a full schedule of events and championships for a variety of motorcycle disciplines. Learn more about AMA Pro Racing at www.amaproracing.com.