Last January’s Superprestigio short-track invitational in Barcelona, Spain, was one of the most spectacular motorcycle races of the year, dirt or pavement.
During the early stages of the winner-take-all Superfinal, 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Champion Brad Baker and reigning MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez battled back and forth. Marquez made contact with Baker and opened a small gap. Baker hunted Marquez down and, again, contact.
Marquez was quick, but in the eyes of someone who has been turning left for a long time, he was a little squirrely. Baker and Marquez came together again in the closing laps, and the Spaniard went down.
Did Baker knock down Marquez intentionally? Absolutely not. He had a wheel on Marquez, and Marquez turned down on Baker. Big mistake. Marquez is used to putting a wheel on his fellow roadracers, but that kind of riding wasn’t going to fly with a professional flat tracker.
Baker was visibly upset that Marquez crashed, and he coasted to victory. I’ve read comments on blogs and forums arguing that Baker pulled a dirty move on Marquez. I disagree. That sort of thing happens every weekend at dirt tracks in America. If you mess with the bull, you’re going to get the horns.
This weekend’s event at the Palau Sant Jordi arena will be different. Here’s why: Jared Mees. Despite what many fans think, Baker took it easy on his competition. He put on a show. I have been watching and racing with Baker since he was riding 85cc mini-bikes. At any point during that race, he could have checked out. Instead, he did the standard high/low line flat trackers use when practicing or riding with their buddies.
Believe me when I say that Mees, the current AMA Pro Flat Track champion, is going to throw a curveball into this event. I can’t think of two guys who are more competitive than Baker and Mees. They respect each another, but they hate to lose. I can’t see them putting on a show and risk throwing away a win at such a prestigious event.
No disrespect to the other amazing riders from around the world who have been invited to compete, but the battle for the top spot on the podium will be between Baker and Mees. I am going with Marquez as a distant third. Troy Bayliss, Tito Rabat, and Taddy Blazusiak should also have a shot at the podium. And don’t count out my kid sister, 95-pound Shayna Texter. She turns left as well as anyone I know.
Who will be the true winner of this event? The fans, and they include me. I compete in AMA Pro Flat Track, and I do my best to beat some of those guys every week, but I am also a fan of the sport. There are times when I am racing with one or more of my fellow competitors and amazed by what they are doing without realizing that I am doing it myself.
On Saturday, December 13, we will watch two AMA Pro Flat Track champions, Brad Baker and Jared Mees, engage 10 world champions, plus a bunch of other great riders, on two wheels. It doesn’t get better than that.