Video: Martin Cardenas and GEICO Suzuki at Barber Motorsports Park

AMA Pro Daytona SportBike points leader Martin Cardenas and his GEICO Suzuki GSX-R600 recently finished third in Race 2 at Barber Motorsports Park after suspension set-up changes didn’t quite work out and the rear brake developed a problem in Race 1, where he finished fifth. In this video, Cardenas comments on the unique opportunity fans have to meet the riders and see the racebikes up close during the popular AMA Pro fan walk. Be sure to stop by and see the friendly Colombian at the Buckeye Superbike Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire, July 13-15, at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

Barber Podium Pads Cardenas Daytona SportBike Points Lead

LEEDS, Ala. (June 24) — Martin Cardenas survived another grueling day at Barber Motorsports Park and brought home a respectable third-place finish on his GEICO Suzuki to improve his lead in the GoPro Daytona SportBike championship to 51 points over second-place Jason DiSalvo.

Cardenas, who has won six of 10 races this year, entered this weekend’s Triumph SuperBike Classic with a 47-point lead on DiSalvo. In Saturday’s race, DiSalvo finished fourth and Cardenas fifth, shrinking the lead to 45. But Sunday ended with DiSalvo in sixth, so Cardenas ultimately leaves Alabama with a net gain of four points.

“I did what I could this weekend,” Cardenas said. “It was an okay result. Third place is enough to make me happy. I finished ahead of DiSalvo today so we made back the points there and that was the most we could ask for.

“I didn’t have the speed to catch Dane (Westby) and Cameron (Beaubier) towards the end of the race. The bike was just a little off all weekend. We tried some new things Friday and Saturday and they didn’t work the way we had hoped, so they switched back to what we knew today and it was better. Not perfect, but better. In the end, we gained points so we are pleased.”

Most of the finishers needed quick baths of cold water and iced wrapped towels around their necks to help them cool down. Temperatures reached 97 degrees and the hottest point of the day came during the race itself.

“It was extremely hot and I must say the last five laps seemed like they took a long time,” Cardenas said. “I keep my fitness at a very high level but it was very tough even for me. I hope this is the hottest conditions we’ll face this year.”

Up next is the Buckeye SuperBike Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire, which takes place July 13-15 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

GEICO Suzuki Rider Cardenas Limits Damage with 5th Place Finish

LEEDS, Ala. (June 23) — Despite riding Saturday’s main event of the Triumph SuperBike Classic without a rear brake, Daytona SportBike championship leader Martin Cardenas did a fine job of damage control by finishing in fifth place on his GEICO Suzuki. By maintaining his composure, Cardenas lost just two points to second-ranked rider Jason DiSalvo, who was fourth overall.

Cardenas knew he was handicapped before the start of the race when his award-winning crew changed his rear tire after the warm-up lap, something they routinely do.

“They told me to check the rear brake pedal and there was nothing there,” Cardenas said. “Right then I knew I needed to focus on riding smart and safe to get as many points as I could. I knew a win was not there for me in this race.”

As the lead group of riders separated themselves from the main pack, Cardenas stayed towards the front of the chase pack until he figured out the best way to ride his GSX-R600 around Barber Motorsports Park without the advantage of the back brake.

“Most riders don’t use the rear brake but I do, some times quite a bit,” Cardenas said. “I could see through the first few laps that the leaders were pulling away a little bit each time around and I had to remind myself to just make the best of the day. I got comfortable and realized I could take fifth place so that’s what I tried to do. If necessary, maybe I could have made a charge but the risk wasn’t worth the reward.”

While the top three riders headed to the winner’s circle, Cardenas and crew already were dissecting the issue with the front brake.

“I’ve never seen this happen before,” crew chief Frank Aragaki said. “We’ll figure out what caused this and get it fixed for sure. For tomorrow, we’ll just replace everything. I have to say that Martin did an awesome job for us. Championships are won on the bad days and if this is the worst thing to happen to us then I’ll be happy.”

A winner of six out of nine races this year, Cardenas will hit the track for a warm-up session at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. Race 2 for the GoPro Daytona SportBike class will start at 2:15 p.m. and last for 21 laps around the 2.38-mile, 14-turn circuit.

Championship Leader Cardenas Survives Sweltering Barber First Day

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (June 22) – The Triumph SuperBike Classic roared to life Friday under punishing conditions at Barber Motorsports Park, but GEICO Suzuki rider Martin Cardenas coolly rode his GSX-R600 to the No. 4 slot in the provisional field with a steady, if not spectacular, 1:28.504 circuit.

“Today was okay,” Cardenas said. “In the practice session I felt like I hadn’t been riding for a long time, like a heavy type feeling, which was all on my part and I don’t really know why. Fortunately, by the time we rode in the qualifying session that feeling was gone, so I was much happier.

“We improved the set-up and were able to go a little bit faster in the late afternoon so we feel okay. It’s not perfect, but we have time to make the gains we need in the second qualifying session.”

The second and final qualifying session, which will set the grid for both AMA Pro Daytona SportBike races this weekend, will take place from 9:20-9:40 a.m. Saturday morning. Conditions should be much more agreeable at that hour with most teams expecting better numbers than today when temperatures were in the 90s.

“It was very, very hot today,” Cardenas said. “You have to stay very hydrated to compensate. It will be very tough to go 21 laps in each of the main events but it’s equal for everyone. I am in good shape and I have trained for these summer races.

“The grip becomes less when the track gets greasy, especially the right side of the rear tire because there are so many right-hand turns. You have lots of sensations of sliding and spinning. But again, this is the same for everyone so we all need to adapt. I think we’ll be in very good shape and I look forward to tomorrow morning.”

With six wins in eight GoPro Daytona SportBike starts this year, Cardenas already has a commanding 47-point lead over his nearest rival. He’ll have two chances to pad his position this weekend, with Race 1 at 2 p.m. Saturday and Race 2 at 2:15 p.m. Sunday.

Cardenas, 29, of Medellin, Colombia, won this race last year in the SuperBike category.

“I like the track, even when it’s hot,” he said of the tight 2.38-mile, 14-turn course cut into the hills of eastern Birmingham. “I think the fans will see two great races, for sure.”

All of the action from this weekend’s races will air on SPEED at 11 p.m. CDT on Monday.