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.”