ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (May 29) — In four career Daytona SportBike starts at Road America, GEICO Suzuki rider Martin Cardenas has three victories and a third-place finish to his credit. It’s no wonder the 29-year-old Colombian smiles broadly whenever he thinks of the historic 4.05-mile, 14-turn layout in eastern Wisconsin.
“I have a great affection for Road America,” Cardenas said in his charming accent. “It’s a beautiful part of the country, the fans are very involved and we’ve figured out how to win there. What more could a rider ask for?”
Cardenas first contested the Daytona SportBike class at Road America in 2009, finishing third and first in the two races held that weekend. He returned the following year and doubled-up, winning both events en route to the class championship at season’s end.
Last year, Cardenas competed in Superbike and was a solid fourth in both races. But now he’s back in Daytona SportBike, where he leads the GoPro championship points with four wins and four No. 1 qualifying efforts this season. His 20 career victories in Daytona SportBike remain the all-time class record.
“Perhaps we can add to our total this time through,” Cardenas said. “This would please us a great deal. I know for sure we will put on a great show for the fans. I hope to give them a reason to go crazy for our GEICO team.
“(Road America) is the longest course we race by quite a bit. It has nice, long straight-aways and some sweeping turns where you can stay on the throttle. It’s very wide open and you can get into a nice flow. There are also quite a few areas where you can make passes. Overall, it suits my style of riding quite well. I love it.”
The son of a successful cattle rancher in his native Colombia, Cardenas feels at home in the farmlands of Wisconsin. When not contesting this year’s Subway SuperBike Doubleheader, he can likely be found cruising through the surrounding area, which reminds him a lot of his homeland.
“I’m sorry I can’t tell you stories of the rock star lifestyle of a professional motorcycle racer because really I am most comfortable by myself at my parent’s house back home,” said Cardenas, who usually flies back to Columbia between races. “I have a little scooter I ride into town but that’s about as exciting as it gets. Maybe that’s why I enjoy the fans here so much, because they are a lot like me.
“I love to drive through the area and see the countryside. And some of my favorite restaurants on tour are very near the track. There is a very familiar feel to this place and I think that is a big part of why we do so well here.”
Daytona SportBike action begins with a practice ride at 1 p.m. EDT Friday, followed by the first qualifying session at 4 p.m. EDT. A second qualifying session begins at 9:20 a.m. EDT, Saturday, with the 13-lap first race kicking off at 2 p.m. EDT. Sunday starts with a warm-up ride at 9:30 a.m. EDT, followed by the second main event at 2:15 p.m. EDT.