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.