Superprestigio 2016 Preview

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It’s that time of the year again, and no, I don’t mean Christmas. It’s Superprestigio time! Every year I look forward to watching this event more than any other race all season long. It may be a little different for me because I am competing in the races that interest me the most, but regardless, this is one event that no motorcycle racing enthusiast should miss.

The Superprestigio is a very unique Flat Track event for a couple different reasons:

  1. The classes. There are two major classes at the Superprestigio. The Superprestigio class features riders who have taken part in an FIM Road Racing World Championship such as MotoGP, Moto2 or Moto3. Some of the riders in this class include Toni Elias, Nico Terol, Julian Simon, Dani Ribalti, Alex Marquez and of course Marc Marquez. The other class is called the Open class. The Open class features riders who compete in offroad based events such as Flat Track, Speedway, Supermoto, Motocross, etc. Some of the notable riders in this class include Brad Baker, YouTube sensation Masatoshi Ohmori, Spanish Flat Track champion Ferran Cardus and English Flat Track racer Oliver Brindley.
  2. The format. I am not an expert on how it all works, but I know there are a series of heat races in which riders earn points to make the final events. First place in a heat race gives you 10 points, second place gives you 8 points, third place 6 points, etc. You make the final in each respective class by scoring the most amount of points in these heat races (Sort of like a mini championship). Each class, Superprestigio and Open, has a main event. The top four in each of these finals advance to the Super Final, which is a combination of riders from both classes. The Super Final is the most prestigious race of the night and the first time we will see a potential matchup between Brad Baker and Marc Marquez. Again, I am not an expert on the format, but this gives you a general idea of how things work.
  3. Starting gate. Not your typical Christmas tree style starting light you see at the American professional races. No explanation needed.

There are 11 different countries being represented this year at the SuperPrestigio. The only American in attendance is 2013 Grand National Champion, Brad Baker. If I was going to pick one rider to send over from our series to represent us at this event, Baker would be at the top of my list. Brad is one of the most confident riders I compete against all season long. He just doesn’t seem to get rattled or lose his confidence under any circumstance. Sure, the Superprestigio is essentially a Flat Track race, but it’s a very specialized event suited for Marc Marquez. Not only is Spain Marquez’s home country, but Marquez also helps put this event on every year. Honda cuts no corners when putting together a Honda CRF 450 for Marquez to compete on. I bet they have at least $50k into the motorcycle Marquez will be riding Saturday night. I can assure you that Marquez takes this race very seriously and he wants to win. I can also assure you that Baker doesn’t care how trick Marquez’s bike is or what country he is racing in. He is going to give us his best, as he always does every time he straps on a steel shoe.

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I will say that I have been very impressed with Marquez’s progress on dirt over the past couple of seasons. He goes very, very fast on the tracks I have seen him ride on. He is no slouch when it comes to turning left. However, for those who think Marquez could come over to the states and battle up front in the American Flat Track series, I would hold off a little on that thinking. Marquez is a very skilled motorcycle rider and can slide around a 450 Flat Track bike very well, but jumping on a twin and competing on a half mile or mile is a whole different ball game. From what I have been told from some reliable sources, I am certain he would run the other way if the opportunity even presented itself.

It’s a real bummer Jared Mees got hurt and isn’t able to attend. I like our chances with Baker, but having Mees there not only pushes Baker to go faster, but also throws in one of the most savvy and aggressive Flat Trackers in the world into the mix. I also heard Nicky Hayden was going to suit up this year and give it a go, but he is also recovering from an injury. Even though Hayden hasn’t raced an official Flat Track race in well over a decade, he would have given those boys all they could handle.

I have been very skeptical regarding these 17″ rain tires that the riders use for this event. I understand there is a shortage of 19″ wheels and tires available overseas, but I feel there would be a whole different outcome if everyone ran the standard wheel and tire set-up we use in America. I think there would be more separation among the top guys. I have never used 17″ rain tires, so I am just going off videos I have seen online.

Taking all of this into consideration, I would still be very surprised to see anyone top Baker at this event. He is very aggressive, smooth, gets good starts and is capable of running multiple lines. Marquez will be Bakers biggest threat. Every Flat Track I have seen Marquez practice on is almost identical in shape and surface as the track they will be racing on Saturday night. However, I just don’t think Marquez has the poise needed to hold off Baker for an entire main event and there is no way he is going to pass an experienced indoor Flat Track champion like Baker, who I might add is almost a foot taller than Marquez. You saw what happened a few years ago when Marquez tried getting frisky with Baker during the closing laps. It didn’t end well for the five-time MotoGP champion, although he did handle it with class. That is something I really enjoy with Marquez at this event. Win or lose, He is ALWAYS having fun and I never see him without a smile on his face.

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Other riders to watch for include the Spanish Flat Track champion Ferran Cardus. He is very experienced with these 17″ tires and gets around well judging from the videos I have seen over the past few weeks. I don’t think he has enough to top Baker or Marquez, but I expect him to round out the podium. Dark horse picks for the podium include Masatoshi Ohmori from Japan, Oliver Brindley from Great Britain, Former Moto2 World Champion Toni Elias and I am going to give a shout out to young Tom Edwards from Australia.

Sure, it would be really cool to see more Americans get invited to participate. Some riders who I think would be good at this event include Briar Bauman, Mikey Rush, Henry Wiles, Kenny Coolbeth, Jake Johnson and Sammy Halbert. Heck, I would love to participate in this event myself. However, I understand why we can’t stack the field with American Flat Track racers. Have you ever watched any videos of the Dream Team from the 1992 Olympics? Sort of the same concept and I mean that without any disrespect to the competitors who will be competing this year.

The amount of exposure the Superprestigio has given Flat Track these past three years is indescribable. As a racer and a genuine fan of motorcycle racing, I am very eager for Saturday night to arrive so I can watch my favorite event of the season. Let’s go Bullet!

 

Tune into FansChoice.TV noon on Saturday, December 17th to watch.

 

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