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.