Las Vegas Harley-Davidson’s Jared Mees rounded off his 2015 Grand National Championship winning season with a victory in the first ever Superprestigio of the Americas at the Orleans Hotel and Casino. Brothers Powersports’ Brad Baker finished second in the inaugural event, followed by Zanotti Racing’s Kenny Coolbeth Jr. in third.
The final round of the night included four riders from the AMA Pro Flat Track ranks and four All-Star riders who typically compete in other disciplines or in other countries. In addition to the top three finishers, Crosley Brands’ Bryan Smith earned a spot in the race and All-Stars included Wheels in Motions’ Joe Roberts, Fox Solutions’ Oliver Brindley, Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden and Pegram Racing’s Larry Pegram.
Getting to the final was no easy task. The rapid pace of the night’s program, which featured more than 30 races once the evening was underway, was thrilling from a spectator’s point of view but left little downtime for the riders. Most competitors remained in the staging area after the qualifying and heat races, rather than pushing back to the pit area.
As a result energy was high and the racing was intense. Another feature unique to the event was the motocross-style gate drop start, which saw five to eight riders rocket down the brief straight into Turns 1 and 2. Coupled with the diminutive size of the track, just a tenth of a mile, riders were banging’ bars, arms and legs constantly in the opening laps of every race. Three heat rounds apiece for the All Stars and Flat Trackers along with two semi-finals for each class and an LCQ for each class meant there was ample opportunity to recover from poor luck early on, as Baker, Roberts, Brindley, Smith and others used to their advantage.
Each respective class fought for a spot in the Superprestigio in a 12 lap final race. In the All-Star ranks, Pegram and Hayden slipped inside the field through Turns 1 and 2 to duke it out for the top spot during the early laps with Brindley and Roberts keeping close as well. Pegram and Hayden both have GNC races on their resume and it showed, the two able to cut away from the field slightly as the event progressed. Brindley is a top flat tracker in Britain and kept himself in the mix throughout the race as well. Though Hayden and Brindley kept right near Pegram’s rear tire, the veteran kept his lines tight and rode defensively, allowing him to put just over one second between himself and Hayden by the finish. Hayden finished second while Roberts finished third after a late race fight with Brindley. The top four finished earned a spot in Superprestigio. Those not advancing from the All-Star final race were KTM’s Franc Serra, Speedcell’s Anthony West, KTM’s Dani Ribalta and MotoUSA test rider Aaron Colton.
In the Flat Track final, Cernics’ Stevie Bonsey claimed the early lead going into Turn 1, but Mees, Baker, Smith and Bauman were all able to cut under the Suzuki rider on the exit of Turn 2. Mees then grabbed the front while riders fought tooth and nail behind. Baker worked his way ahead of the warring pack into second-place, then stuffed Mees with an inside move which took both riders up the retaining wall for the lead. This allowed the remaining riders to close back in and Bonsey eventually made a pass on Mees as well with Bauman close behind. The fight ended abruptly mid-way into the race for Bonsey however, with contact between him and Bauman resulting in a hard off for the Suzuki rider. Bauman rounded a few more laps while Bonsey sat on the side wall regaining his composure, but then Bauman pulled off to the side to check on his competitor’s status, ceding his transfer position to the Superprestigio in the process. While the two were reconciling, Smith and Coolbeth moved into third and fourth place. Baker and Mees gave fans some close racing in the final laps, but Baker was able to defend against the attack and take the win.
In the Superprestigio race to end the night, Baker and Mees pinned it off the line to score the first two positions through the opening turns, with Pegram and Hayden pushing up the inside to slot into third and fourth. Brindley, Coolbeth and Roberts made it out of the opening corners unscathed, but Smith slid out as he rounded the turn, ending a weekend that was fraught with bad luck (a crash the day prior had ended his hops at this year’s GNC1 title).
Baker and Mees commanded the front after that while Pegram and Hayden remained locked in battle. Baker ran a bit wide out of Turn 4 as the race progressed and rode up the side of the retaining wall, allowing Mees to hold steady inside and claim the front. Pegram, Hayden and Coolbeth closed in on Baker but Baker was able to retain his runner-up position.
Mees and Baker stretched a bit of an advantage after that while Hayden pushed hard on Pegram to grab third position. Coolbeth was able to get in front of Pegram in the same move and jump to fourth and from there he and Hayden had a thrilling bar-to-bar battle. It lasted only a few laps however, as Hayden became the next rider to go down just before the finish. Coolbeth took over third-place and proved uncatchable, with Pegram holding to fourth, Roberts fifth and Brindley sixth.
“What a way to top off the end of the year,” Mees said after the race. “I’m at a loss for words really. It was a picture perfect weekend for me. It was fun, battled with Josh Hayes and Larry, guys I’ve looked up to that do something I can’t even come close to doing. Battling it out with them and hyping it all up, then battling with these guys here I knew it would be tough. It was a lot of fun and I look forward to coming back next year and doing the same thing.”
“Yeah that’s the definition of a wall ride on a flat track bike,” explained Baker when asked about his near miss in the final race. “It wasn’t intentional by any means but the track got so technical at the end, it even changed from our final to the super final. It was one of those tracks where you had to go slow to go fast and not make any mistakes. It was a pretty clean race apart from that moment there and worrying about that first lap going bad. It was just fun riding with Jared, he got the best of me and wasn’t making any mistakes, riding calm and I was trying to be a little too aggressive.”
“It was awesome actually, we (he and Hayden) were back and forth and pretty aggressive, but on this track you can be pretty aggressive to other riders,” said Coolbeth. “He ended up going down, I don’t think I did anything to make him go down, but its short track racing and it’s tough. These guys got out, I was kind of stuck behind those guys and worked my way up and got to third and stayed there.”
Mees and Baker will both be making the trip back to Barcelona, Spain for the Superprestigio there in the coming weeks. Organizers of this year’s event in Las Vegas commented that next year scheduling would likely be different to help increase the international presence, since many riders that wanted to compete, Marc Marquez included, were unable to join due to scheduling conflicts.
Flat trackers and road racers weren’t the only riders to kick up some dirt, with Super Hooligans racing everything from Sportster 1200s, Indian Scouts, Ducat Scramblers, Street 750s and more. Roland Sands, Aaron Colton, Drake McElroy, Chris Wiggins and numerous others battled through qualifying and heat races to make the eight lap final, which included 13 competitors.
The Hooligans hammered it off the line and a couple of riders got collected in the opening turns, though luckily none were injured. The Speed Merchant’s Chris Wiggins got to the front with RSD rider Helder Alvarez, See See Motorcycles’ Thor Drake, Sands and Rusty Butcher’s Travis Hayes holding close behind.
Wiggins held the front for the opening laps, but Drake was keeping him well within reach. Mid-race a rider went down in a turn and caused the competitors to bunch back up, allowing Drake the opportunity to push ahead and claim the lead. From there he maintained pace at the front and took the win in the inaugural event.
Much to his surprise, Drake was led down off the podium to claim the spoils of victory: a brand new Indian Scout Sixty. Flabbergasted at the prize, Drake spun a grateful victory lap aboard the new machine before ending the night.
All in all the first ever Superprestigio of the Americas was a great night of close racing with a positive, grassroots vibe. We’re looking forward to an even bigger and better event next year.
Superprestigio of the Americas Results 2015
1. Jared Mees (Honda)
2. Brad Baker (Honda)
3. Kenny Coolbeth Jr. (Honda)
4. Larry Pegram (Honda)
5. Joe Roberts (Yamaha)
6. Oliver Brindley (Kawasaki)
7. Roger Hayden (Suzuki)
8. Bryan Smith (Kawasaki)
Super Hooligans Results 2015
1. Thor Drake (Harley-Davidson)
2. Chris Wiggins (Harley-Davidson)
3. Roland Sands (Indian)
4. Hunter Klee (Harley-Davidson)
5. Drake McElroy (Indian)
6. Travis Newbold (Indian)
7. Ben Giese (Yamaha)
8. Brendon Lutes (Indian)
9. Shaun Guardado (Harley-Davidson)
10. Helder Alvernaz (Harley-Davidson)
11. Travis Hayes (Harley-Davidson)
12. Mitch Gallagher (Harley-Davidson)
13. Aaron Colton (Indian)
Superprestigo All-Stars Final Results 2015
1. Larry Pegram (Honda)
2. Roger Hayden (Suzuki)
3. Joe Roberts (Yamaha)
4. Oliver Brindley (Kawasaki)
5. Franc Serra (KTM)
6. Anthony West (Suzuki)
7. Dani Ribalta (KTM)
8. Aaron Colton (Honda)
Superprestigio Flat Track Final Results 2015
1. Brad Baker (Honda)
2. Jared Mees (Honda)
3. Kenny Coolbeth Jr. (Honda)
4. Bryan Smith (Kawasaki)
5. Briar Bauman (Honda)
6. Davis Fisher (Honda)
7. Stevie Bonsey (Suzuki)
8. Dan Bromley (Honda)
- Roger Hayden and Kenny Coolbeth Jr. battling in Vegas.
- Elvis and a handful of Vegas showgirls get the night started at the Superprestigio of the Americas.
- Jared Mees leads the Superprestigio of the Americas.
- Jared Mees claims victory in the inaugural Superprestigio of the Americas.