Team Hammer, Inc. has elected to not exercise its 2013 contract option on 2010 and 2012 AMA Pro Daytona SportBike Champion Martin Cardenas, to allow him to better pursue his goal of returning to World Championship competition as soon as possible.

Cardenas had been assigned to the 2012 GEICO Suzuki program operated in AMA Pro Daytona SportBike by Chris Ulrich Racing LLC with technical and logistical support from Team Hammer’s Contract Services department.

Cardenas won the 2004 Spanish 600cc Supersport Championship and competed in the 2005 and 2006 FIM 250cc Grand Prix World Championship Series, with several top-10 finishes. After his 2006 season was cut short by injury and Cardenas was not signed for 2007, the native of Colombia ended up in the AMA Pro Series as a privateer.

Team Hammer signed Cardenas early in the 2007 AMA Pro season, as a replacement for an injured rider at Infineon Raceway, where Cardenas had qualified 20th for the AMA Pro Supersport race on a non-competitive racebike borrowed from a friend. Cardenas finished 12th in the shortened race on a Team Hammer GSX-R600 despite having only practiced on it in the morning warm-up session. Cardenas scored his first AMA Pro podium finish two weeks later at Road America and quickly became a podium regular.

During the 2009-2010-2011-2012 seasons, Cardenas won 25 AMA Pro races, scored 39 AMA Pro podium finishes and two AMA Pro Championships with Team Hammer. He finished third in 2009 Daytona Sportbike points with seven race wins despite missing two races with an injury; won nine races and the 2010 Daytona SportBike Championship; finished fourth in 2011 Superbike points with a rookie Superbike season win; and won the 2012 Daytona SportBike Championship with eight race wins.

“It’s been an amazing six seasons with Martin, who is no doubt the best overall rider I’ve worked with during my 39 years in racing,” said Team Hammer co-founder and owner John Ulrich. “He not only has an uncanny ability to make things happen on the racetrack, he is also very easy to work with, gets along well with his crew and is a decent human being. I am very proud that we were able to identify his inherent talent, pluck him off the fifth row of the grid and put him in a position to win AMA Pro races and AMA Pro Championships. It’s a great example of what Team Hammer has been doing for over three decades now.

“We recognize that Martin’s heart is set on racing in the Superbike World Championship, and that the best way to help Martin achieve his goal is to allow him to take advantage of another opportunity now. We wish him well, and appreciate the outstanding job he did on our motorcycles. All we can say now is, 'Thank You, Martin!'"

Statement From Martin Cardenas: “First of all I would like to thank John and Chris Ulrich and all their family for giving me the opportunity to race in the AMA Pro Championship with an amazing team and mechanics who helped me win races and championships. It’s been a great six years working with John, Chris and the M4 and GEICO Suzuki teams, everything has been perfect and I will always be especially grateful for the opportunity given to me.

“Now I am starting a new chapter in my career, to race again in Superbike. I am very happy and excited to start this new season, and hoping for very good results. I will give 100 percent of my effort to do the best I can and try to achieve great things. Thanks again to everyone who has helped me get to where I am right now, because I wouldn’t be here without the opportunity that John and Chris Ulrich and their teams gave me.”