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 rear 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.