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.