HOMESTEAD, Fla. (March 23) – Past AMA Daytona SportBike champion Martin Cardenas got his GEICO Suzuki dialed in for the next few races of the 2012 schedule during a two-day test session at Homestead-Miami Speedway earlier this week.
Cardenas recorded the second-quickest lap during the event with a best circuit of 1:24.084 seconds on the final day of the sanctioned event. His best lap on the first day was 1:25.637.
Crew chief Frank Aragaki said the test was productive on two fronts — for the numbers on the stopwatch and the opportunity for his veteran rider and team to become better acquainted with one another.
“We’re still learning Martin and he’s still learning us,” Aragaki said. “We’ve only had two test sessions and a race together. He’s also still getting comfortable with the 600 because he’s been off it for a year.”
Aragaki said Cardenas also came down with a cold right before the test began but he soldiered on and improved every day on the Homestead track.
“He had a pretty sore throat when he got there,” Aragaki said. “We knew he was down but he didn’t miss a beat. He was a real pro.
“We had a baseline setting that was not too bad, which allowed us to work on different things like shocks and the overall balance of the bike.”
That extra time for experimentation and reflection was an important component to the success of the test.
“We got better every time out on the first day, then thought about stuff overnight,” Aragaki said. “On the following day, Martin was feeling better and was getting more comfortable with a track he hadn’t seen since 2007. We wound up going pretty quick with something we think we can race on.
“We went through a number of settings we normally wouldn’t be able to go through on a race weekend because we had the extra time.”
Cameron Beaubier recorded the best lap of the test with a 1:24.431.
The days in Miami were an AMA-sanctioned open test to prepare teams for the rest of the Daytona SportBike season. The test was necessary as bike setups for the season-opening Daytona 200 are radically different than those for the remainder of the races.
“Daytona is the most difficult race of the year because the preparation has to be spot-on,” Aragaki said. “Lucky for us, we have somebody of Martin’s caliber. If we do our jobs right, he’ll go fast.”
Cardenas and the GEICO Suzuki crew will now turn their attention to the Big Kahuna Road Atlanta event, which takes place April 20-22 in Braselton, Ga.