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Backmarker: Marquez Revives Superprestigio

Monday, December 2, 2013
They reached their top of their respective championships within a month of each other. They were born one day apart. Are Brad Baker and Marc Marquez twins from different mothers  Will we see some wicked sibling rivalry in Barcelona on January 11
They reached their top of their respective championships within a month of each other. They were born one day apart. Are Brad Baker and Marc Marquez twins from different mothers  Will we see some wicked sibling rivalry in Barcelona on January 11
They reached the top of their respective championships within a month of each other. They were born one day apart. Are Brad Baker and Marc Marquez twins from different mothers? Will we see some wicked sibling rivalry in Barcelona on January 11?
@MarcMarquez93 has resurrected Spain’s post-season Superprestigio as a flat track race. So will he invite @BradtheBullet, or are the MotoGP stars #chicken?

Back in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, the international motorcycle racing season was over by October, and stars from multiple classes and championships were lured to the Calafat circuit in Spain, for a post-season invitational event put on by Solo Moto, a top Spanish bike mag.

The race was called the Superprestigio. The name was superappropriate, since it really did attract some prestigious names. In 1987, then 250cc world champ Anton Mang raced there, along with Loris Reggiani. My Spanish isn’t so good, but I think that John Kocinski once set the Calafat track record, by lapping the roughly 2-mile, 16-turn course in 1:28.8. The field included the top Spanish championship riders, so it served as an important proving ground for future talent.

I think that at least once (was it ’91?) there was a combined race for 500cc GP two-strokes and 750cc Superbikes, which further suggests the potential the event held for cross-fertilizing talent. But in the early ‘90s, it got too expensive to run top-class machinery at a non-championship event; sponsors and teams could no longer ignore the risks of running their stars at scrappy tracks like Calafat, which had been built in the early ‘70s and was not up to then-modern safety standards. The Superprestigio went the way of the Trans-Atlantic Match Races.

This year, though, the Superprestigio is back.

Marc Marquez has taken on the task of resurrecting the Superprestigio as a charity fundraiser, although this time it will be a dirt track race held in the Palau St. Jordi, the spectacular indoor arena built for the ’92 Olympics.

Marc Marquez has taken on the task of resurrecting the Superprestigio as a charity fundraiser  although this time it will be a dirt track race held in the Palau St. Jordi  the spectacular indoor arena built for the 92 Olympics.
Marc Marquez has taken on the task of resurrecting the Superprestigio as a charity fundraiser, although this time it will be a dirt track race held in the Palau St. Jordi, the spectacular indoor arena built for the ’92 Olympics.
Marquez, it turns out, is an avid dirt tracker who considers it a critical part of his training regime. There’s YouTube video of him riding a 450cc bike similar to the machines raced in the AMA Pro Singles class and by American GNC racers on short track and TT courses.

It’s been big news in Spain that Moto2 champ Pol Espargo and Moto3 champ Maverick Vinales have also committed to the race, which will be a charity fundraiser. I don’t know whether either of the current American MotoGP racers, Nicky Hayden or Colin Edwards, will race. They’re obviously both familiar with steel shoes.

But as far as I’m concerned the one guy who, so far, is conspicuous by his absence from the guest list is Brad “The Bullet” Baker, who won the U.S. GNC #1 plate a couple of months ago in Pomona.

I called Brad up last Sunday, to run my idea past him. It was the first he’d heard of Marquez’ little party, but he was immediately up for crashing it.

“He can’t have a really prestigious flat track race without including the #1 plate holder from the top flat track championship,” Baker agreed over the phone.

Marquez should feel a kinship with Baker anyway. They were born one day apart! Hell, they even look alike. So on the one hand, it makes perfect sense for him to invite Baker over. I’m sure that failing to include Baker on the invitation list was a simple oversight.

Or, maybe Marquez knows Baker will hand him his ass.

So, @marcmarquez93, what do you say? Will you extend an invitation to @BradtheBullet, or are you #chicken?

Throughout the 1980s  the Spanish magazine Solo Moto promoted the post-season Superprestigio invitation races at Calafat. The races attracted lots of media attention and top riders. Nowadays  most GP riders contracts would probably forbid such a race  but that hasnt stopped Marc Marquez from resurrecting it as a flat track race  and charity fund-raiser.
Throughout the 1980s, the Spanish magazine Solo Moto promoted the post-season ‘Superprestigio’ invitation races at Calafat. The races attracted lots of media attention and top riders. Nowadays, most GP riders contracts would probably forbid such a race, but that hasn’t stopped Marc Marquez from resurrecting it as a flat track race, and charity fund-raiser.
Marquez and his Spanish pals only know about training on flat track bikes because Americans like Kenny Roberts exported Grand National sliding skills to Grands Prix in the late ‘70s. Kenny arrived in Europe at a time when 500cc two-stroke power greatly exceeded the grip available from the tires of the day; chassis and suspension development was also lagging, and needless to say, the only “traction control” systems were riders’ right wrists.

It came as a shock to Europeans who (mostly) were used to keeping their wheels in line when a brash American arrived to prove that he could slide just as well on asphalt as he could on dirt. Suddenly, getting the bike sideways, drifting, and spinning the rear tire while leaned way over was not an indication that a racer had reached the limit, but only that he’d reached the next level.

Throughout the whole of the original Superprestigio period, the 500cc Grand Prix championship was dominated by riders who’d come up racing on dirt. It took the Euros quite a while to catch up, and when they did it was partly because Marlboro, then a major Roberts sponsor, encouraged him to set up a Spanish version of his “training ranch”, where he taught up-and-coming riders his dirt track techniques.

Traction control, for better or for worse, has played a role in reducing American flat track riders’ advantage in GPs. But the idea of training on dirt tracks has definitely stuck. Rossi even has a Harley-Davidson XR750 that he occasionally trains on. And evidently, Marc Marquez feels that dirt tracking is a key part of his training regimen.

Of course, training is one thing, and racing every weekend is something else. Which is why I’m pretty sure that Brad Baker would win the Superprestigio if he was allowed to compete.

“I would hope so!” he laughed when I asked him if he thought he’d kick butt in Barcelona. “I’ve seen pictures of Marquez flat tracking on a 450 with 17s and rain tires. The track I saw them on was a cushion track, sort of a ‘paper clip’, and I think I’d kick their asses even worse on a track like that than I would if they got a blue groove going.”

Brads going to be Harley-Davidsons official rider in 2014  racing an XR750 on half-miles and miles. Hell race a KTM on short tracks. Both brands stand to score a PR coup if Bakers invited to participate in Marquez Superprestigio race.
Brad’s going to be Harley-Davidson’s official rider in 2014, racing an XR750 on half-miles and miles. He’ll race a KTM on short tracks. Both brands stand to score a PR coup if Baker’s invited to participate in Marquez’ Superprestigio race.
To be clear, I’m writing this Backmarker as an open letter to Marc Marquez: Invite Brad the Bullet to the Superprestigio (or, at the very least, change the name of your event to just ‘Prestigio’)!

Harley-Davidson just announced that Brad will be the official factory entry in the 2014 GNC, and although the Barcelona race will be on a track too short for an an XR750, they could quickly build a great PR campaign around Brad’s presence in Barcelona.

In 2014, Brad will race a KTM on GNC short tracks and TT races, sponsored by Fun Mart Cycle Center. KTM, of course, could also get a huge lift from a high-profile win at the Superprestigio.

Backmarker readers who are on Facebook and Twitter, feel free to get a little social media buzz going. You can start by asking @MarcMarquez93 to invite @BradtheBullet. Then feel free to tell @HarleyDavidson and @KTM_Racing that teaming up to fund a quick American jaunt to Barcelona is PR gold.

Marc Marquez’ Superprestigio will be held on January 11. There’s not much time, but there’s enough time to pull it off. “All I need is for KTM to provide a bike,” Brad told me. “We can just fly my wheels and suspension over as extra baggage.”

Of course, we’d want to fly over some U.S.-based journalist to document it all too. Let me check my calendar... yep, I’m free.



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Comments
jondowd   December 16, 2013 07:52 AM
I DID IT !!! Check this Tweet out to me from DTX Barcelona ?: -) (you suggested we tweet them and I did, and they responded. Take me too :-) @dtxbarcelona 15m @jondowd we rely on @BradtheBullet! @marcmarquez93 asked us for invite him last friday. We want the best riders!
Backmarker   December 3, 2013 09:23 AM
kz, Beach is fast, no question. And there are other Americans I'd love to see at the race, not least Nicky Hayden. But Hayden himself recently admitted to me that he's probably not quite on GNC winning pace, and Brad Baker is. He's the current champion in the world's top flat track series, and he and Marquez should know each other anyway -- look at them, they're twins from other mothers! MG
kz1000st   December 2, 2013 05:35 PM
My vote is for JD Beach. He ran and podiumed on dirt and asphalt.