Marquez to try and reclaim Superprestigio honours from Brad Baker
Young Tom Edwards the only Australian entered in the prestigious event
Marc Marquez – “I need a perfect ride to beat Brad Baker. That’s my target.”
Marc Marquez has already won the Superprestigio Dirt Track event, but he has not managed to beat Brad Baker!
Marquez beat American Jared Mees in the second run in 2014, but all his races against Brad “The Bullet” Baker have been dominated so far by the 2013 AMA Grand National champion.
Baker leads two wins to zero. Marc is well aware that Baker is ahead in the oval, but everything can happen when the five-time FIM Road Racing world champion is on a bike and eager to win.
2013 Grand National Champion Baker remains undefeated against Marquez, topping the international superstar in both Superprestigio I and III. In 2014, during the second running of the international dirt track spectacular, Baker was sidelined after a crash in practice and Marquez scored a win over three-time Grand National Champion Jared Mees. Mees was invited to take part in this year’s grudge match overseas, but unfortunately he’s still on the mend from an injury suffered in off-season testing.
A true All-Star event, the short track exhibition features an invitation-only field comprised of champions and top motorcycle talent from around the world, and a variety of disciplines. Alongside Marquez, the list includes additional road racing World Champions, including 2014 Moto3 World Champion Alex Marquez, 2010 Moto2 World Champion Toni Elias and 2011 FIM 125cc World Champion Nico Terol. Joining the group of A-list road racers for his Superprestigio debut is former World Superbike racer and fan favorite Ruben Xaus.
In addition to Baker, dirt track racing’s international contingent includes National Champions Alan Birtwistle (2016 British DTRA Champion) and Ferran Cardus (2016 RFME Copa de España de Flat Track Champion). Cardus, the inaugural champion of Spain’s national flat track series, has been training with Baker in recent months and has also been invited by American Flat Track to compete in the AFT Singles class at the 2017 season opener, the Daytona TT, on March 16.
The only Australian in the field is 15-year-old Tom Edwards. Tom recently travelled to Spain to train with friend Brad Baker and Spanish Champion Ferran Cardús, soaking in some European motorcycle experience after having spent much of his season competing in the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup. Initially, young Tom had hoped to have an opportunity to see his hero’s race the highly competitive Superprestigio event before flying home to spend Christmas with family. Now he finds himself on the starting line with an opportunity to show his racing talents alongside the worlds best.
Tom is currently a guest of the Spanish Grau Suzuki Racing team who Ferran Cardus is the teams star rider. After attending training sessions with Ferran and Baker, Tom impressed the Spanish with his dirt track skills making a strong case to be included in the event. He now follows in the footsteps of Australian former SuperBike World Champion, Troy Bayliss, who competed in the Superprestigio two years ago and possibly the youngest ever rider to race.
Tom is extremely grateful to the Cardús family for hosting his stay along with Brad Baker for his guidance and support.
“I can’t wait to ride with some of the worlds best. I’m really looking forward to working closely with my friends Brad Baker and Masa Ohmori. It will be the first chance to race alongside some European riders which is super exciting”
Marc Marquez looks to Superprestigio 2016
Last year you said your chances to beat Brad Baker had been bigger than ever before. Will 2016 be the year for you to beat him?
“I will try to win, of course, but we should not forget that Brad is one of the best flattrackers in the world and beating him means a perfect ride without a single mistake.”
Jared Mees says you were the fastest rider in Barcelona last year and probably you deserved more than a second place. Did you leave Palau Sant Jordi with a bittersweet sensation?
“Setting the fastest lap in qualifying or in the main race is not enough to win. Many different factors are to be taken into account in a race, so the race winner must be good in many of those. Being the fastest lap holder does not guarantee crossing the finish line in first place.”
Brad Baker said that last year he had to ride 100% for the first time in Barcelona to beat you. Do you think that if you are able to lead the pack after turn #2, the superfinal race is in your pocket?
“Well, I have to make it to the superfinal first! Should I make it and take the race lead on lap one, things will be easier, but I always say the same thing regarding racing: no plans are to be made in advance. In fact, facing the best flat track riders in the world in the Superfinal will make me feel happy, whatever the race result will be later on.”
Baker said recently there’s no more speed for you to gain in flat track racing, but you should improve both control and consistency. Do you agree?
“We roadracers will always set fast laptimes sooner or later because speed is in us. However, consistency is a matter of practice, and that means riding on the dirt day after day. American and European top flattrackers taking part in the Superprestigio race flat track along the whole season and this gives them an advantage. I practice dirt-track as well, but not every week so I have many things to improve. I hope I am able to be faster on the oval this time. That would be great for me.”
What kind of track conditions -grip level- is best for you to beat Baker?
“There is no answer to this question. It is not as simple as a matter of grip, but also the bike setup and how does the rider feel on raceday. We are human beings and both our physical and psychological conditions must be taken into account. I wouldn’t put the stress on the grip level of the track. Provided that it is in perfect condition, as it always is, that is the most important thing for the best show to be provided.”
How do you manage such an important factor in flat track racing such as the starts?
“Good starts are crucial in flat track racing, and we try to do our best here by being more relaxed than the rest of the field in order to achieve the best response time when the start gate goes down.”
Last year both your brother Alex and Xavi Vierge won one final each in the Superprestigio class. Is it now more difficult than ever to beat fellow roadracers?
“Flat track racing has become very popular amongst roadracers as a perfect training method. As a result, the average riding level has increased a lot. I must admit Xavi and Alex beat me last year, but I must say I decided not to take any risks and focused on earning points in every final race. You need points to make it to the superfinal, and sometimes a second or third place may be as good as a race win.”
How often do you practice dirt-track racing during the MotoGP season?
“Not as much, I must admit. This season I went to practise dirt-track five days in total. Motocross is also in my training plan, but I must be careful in order to minimize risks. MotoGP is my priority, of course.”
Anything new on your 2016 Superprestigio bike?
“No. The bike will be exactly the same as last year. Only a few setup details will change.”
Apart from Baker, any other rider to be watched closely?
“Most roadracers have improved their flat track skills a lot, but I will pay special attention to the Flat Track Spanish Cup winner, Ferran Cardus, and the fastest riders in the Copa Rodi. I watched some race events of the 2016 Copa Rodi Michelin and rider level keeps increasing. All races in the Superprestigio event will be thrilling races, that’s for sure.”
Injuries have sidelined both Jared Mees and another fast guy from the US, Nicky Hayden. What a pity…
“Yes, definitely. I met Nicky in Australia, when he replaced my teammate Dani Pedrosa and I encouraged him to race the Superprestigio. The most talented riders we have, the best for the show! Both Nicky’s and Mees’s injuries have been full of misfortune but these things happen in the business. I wish we have both of them in the 2017 Superprestigio line-up!”
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