Cardenas Wins Again, Surfs Away with Big Kahuna Title

BRASELTON, Ga. (April 22) — It wasn’t quite as easy as Saturday’s wire-to-wire job, but GEICO Suzuki rider Martin Cardenas still managed to win his second AMA Pro Daytona SportBike trophy of the weekend Sunday at Road Atlanta to sweep the Triumph Big Kahuna Nationals and claim the unique top prize — a brand new surfboard.

“I have to learn how to surf now,” Cardenas joked in the winner’s circle. “I have never tried, but I will head to the beach soon to see if I can do it.”

Surfing aside, there is no question that Cardenas knows how to ride his GSX-R600. He was dominant throughout the weekend, leading every qualifying session and riding to the top of the podium in both main events. In six Daytona SportBike starts at Road Atlanta, Cardenas has won five times. The other race was lost due to engine failure.

“This track suits me well, and thankfully so does the next one,” Cardenas said, with his eyes already on Infineon Raceway in Northern California’s wine country. “I feel very comfortable on this bike. It just feels very good and that makes it nice for me.”

Sunday’s race was a little more stressful for Cardenas, although he made it look fairly routine. He swapped the lead around with a couple of riders in the first lap and a half but then pulled ahead for good from there. Tommy Hayden was the only one to keep Cardenas honest, riding right behind him the entire race, but lapped traffic near the end allowed Cardenas to thwart any thoughts of a real challenge and the Colombian took the checkered flag by 1.220 seconds.

“It was harder because Tommy stayed right on my tail the whole way,” Cardenas said. “I knew I couldn’t make any mistakes or he would take the position. It was tiring to ride that focused for that long but this is what was required to win. Some back markers helped me at the end this time, so there was no late maneuvering and I was able to get the victory.

“The entire GEICO Suzuki team should get credit for this weekend. Everyone executed their jobs perfectly and the bike was in great form. I am happy for these two wins.”

Cardenas’ double-win weekend moved his total number of victories in the class to 18, a record amount. It also helped him build a sizable 20-point lead in the championship standings after just three races.

Up next is the Great Clips West Coast Moto Jam, which run May 4-6 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

GEICO’s Cardenas Wins Atlanta Opener, Surges into AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike Points Lead

BRASELTON, Ga. (April 21, 2012) – Martin Cardenas’ love affair with Road Atlanta continued Saturday as the 29-year-old Colombian rode his GEICO Suzuki GSX-R600 to a wire-to-wire victory in the first of two AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike races this weekend.

This was Cardenas fourth win at Road Atlanta and his record 17th in the class. The performance lifted him from fourth in the rankings to a seven-point lead over Daytona 200 winner Joey Pascarella, who was eighth.

“The race was excellent for me,” Cardenas said. “I didn’t expect it to be that way. I thought we would have a four or five-bike grouping like we normally do in Daytona SportBike. Fortunately for me, my pace was a little bit better than the others and I just tried to maintain it throughout the race. I knew if I could do that, I would win. “This may sound funny but I actually prefer to race in a group because the race goes by very fast when you are in a fight. When you’re out front with a gap it seems to take a long time. You’re always looking at the pit board to see how far you have to go. It’s nice to win either way, though. We’ll take it.”

It’s been a dream season for Cardenas as he’s earned the pole at both Daytona and Atlanta. Saturday’s win was dominant as he rode from the No. 1 spot on the grid to a 4.461-second victory over Team Hammer stablemate Dane Westby.

As easy as it looked, the race wasn’t totally comfortable for Cardenas as he wobbled hard going up the hill after Turn 1 in one of the later laps. “I put my foot on the rear brake by mistake and the tire began to slip out,” he said. “I nearly crashed there and was fortunate to save it.”

In another area, he briefly went across the grass after straying out of the narrow racing groove. “It’s very easy to make mistakes when you’re alone,” Cardenas said. “I was going through that little chicane area and was distracted for just a moment and lost the line. It doesn’t take much. I lost a little time there, maybe a second and a half or so, but was able to run my best lap next time around so I rebuilt the gap.”

Cardenas will hit the 2.55-mile, 12-turn track again at 9 a.m. Sunday morning for a 20-minute warm-up session. He’ll then start the second race of the Triumph Big Kahuna Nationals at 2:15 p.m. from the pole position.

“Thanks to my team and GEICO for putting me in this position,” Cardenas said. “I am very, very happy.”

Cardenas’ GEICO Suzuki Remains The Quickest in AMA Daytona Sportbike Class

BRASELTON, Ga. (April 20) — Just as it was at the season-opening Daytona 200 a month ago, Martin Cardenas’ GEICO Suzuki remains the quickest bike in the Daytona SportBike category. The affable Colombian posted a lap of 1:28.938 around the 2.55-mile circuit of Road Atlanta Friday evening to earn provisional No. 1 qualifier honors at the Triumph Big Kahuna Nationals.

Cardenas was twice challenged by Jason DiSalvo, the leader in the opening practice session, but he answered the call and edged his rival by .048 seconds.

“It was a pretty good session,” Cardenas said. “Both of the GEICO Suzukis have been strong since this morning and we selected one for the qualifying session and it was perfect. I put together a couple of hot laps and posted the 1:28.9. That was good.

“I knew Jason was running well and whenever I made a pit stop for adjustments I would see where he was on the timing system. You always watch that when you can and I think it pushes you a little harder in your mind when you see where the others are in relation to how you are running.”

Saturday’s final qualifying session for Group A riders is slated to begin at 9:20 a.m. Weather conditions have been cooler than expected and there has been rain in the surrounding areas, which could rearrange the top positions.

“We’ll work to get quicker because I think everyone will step it up in the second qualifying session,” Cardenas said. “We run pretty early in the day so conditions should be better than they were today.

“This bike suits me very well and I am extremely comfortable on it. I feel good when I have to push the bike to the limit. I can trust in it completely. I hope it continues like this all season long.”

The class leader with 16 career victories, Cardenas doubled-up and won both races the last time the AMA Road Racing Series visited Road Atlanta in 2010. He’s already established himself as a favorite this time through and will have two more chances to add to his wins total this weekend.

Saturday’s main event begins at 2 p.m. and will consist of 20 laps equaling 50 miles. Using the same starting grid, Sunday’s race begins at 2:15 p.m. and also runs for 20 laps.

Double-Up Road Atlanta Champion Cardenas Ready To Defend His Titles

ATLANTA (APRIL 18) — GEICO Suzuki rider Martin Cardenas has lots of good feelings heading into this weekend’s AMA Triumph Big Kahuna Nationals at Road Atlanta, and he’s hoping his positive outlook will produce another big outing at one of his favorites racetracks in the world.

The last time Cardenas and the AMA series visited Road Atlanta in 2010, the Team Hammer pro pulled off a double win in the ultra-competitive Daytona SportBike class, which ultimately propelled him to the championship. Now he returns having earned the pole at the season-opening Daytona 200 with a bike that can easily repeat the feat.

“I’ve liked this racetrack very much since the first time I rode here,” said Cardenas, a 29-year-old from Medellin, Colombia. “Obviously, we did as good as we could do the last time we raced here in 2010, winning both Saturday and Sunday’s races so my mind is excited when I think about racing here again.

“I enjoy the fans quite a bit in this area. They are very supportive of me and our program and you can always expect a lot of people to come and cheer us on. I am ready to race.”

Cardenas said the natural rolling terrain of Georgia and the more technical areas of the legendary 2.55-mile, 12-turn course of Road Atlanta give him a distinct advantage over many of his rivals, something he once again hopes to exploit this time through.

“There are some hard-braking corners and I believe one of my strengths is my ability to brake very late,” Cardenas said. “This is always something that can work to your favor during the course of a race.

“After Daytona we went to Homestead (Miami) to test and we found some other things we think will help us in Atlanta. Plus, I’ve been training hard at home, both in the gym and on a bike, so my conditioning is good. I think we are as prepared as possible.”

With 16 SportBike victories on his resume, Cardenas already is the most prolific rider in class history. Under this weekend’s schedule, he’ll get two chances to add to that total, with races slated for 2 p.m. Saturday and 2:15 p.m. Sunday.

“I like the weekend’s when we race twice; it gives you twice as many opportunities to win,” he said. “Plus, if you have an off day on Saturday, you only have to wait one day to redeem yourself. I love to race so I’d go every day if they would let me.”

Racing action at Road Atlanta runs from noon Friday to 5 p.m. Sunday.