Author: Bike Social Sports Reporter Posted: 12 Dec 2015
AMA Flat Track star Brad Baker held off twice MotoGP champ Marc Marquez by just one tenth of a second to claim his first Superprestgio victory in Barcelona this evening.
The American, riding a Honda, was in sensational form and converted the holeshot into the win. It wasn't plain sailing for Baker, however, with Marquez applying huge pressure throughout the 16 lap race.
Having been robbed of the opportunity to go toe to toe with Marquez in 2014 after crashing heavily in practice, suffering a fractured shoulder and elbow, Baker relished the prospect of competing this weekend.
"It's been an emotional year for me," said Baker. "Last year I broke my shoulder and my elbow so it's been a difficult year for me. I've been here for the last 14 or 15 days and it's been a great trip here and this is one of my favourite events of the year."
The race, which lasted just over three minutes, saw Marquez claw into Baker's lead and stalk the victor. The American said that the pressure of leading the race and knowing that the double MotoGP world champion was closing meant that mistakes were easily made however his experience was key to allowing him claim the second US win on European soil in three years.
"When you get the pressure from behind you there's no need to look behind you to know that he's closing. You hear his engine, you hear the crowd get louder so you know that he's closing! You have to take a lower line to protect from behind and taking that line is very mentally challenging and it's difficult to ride the circuit. It's very easy to make a mistake and that's where your experience counts for so much."
Racing only once a year in flat track has meant that over the last three years Marquez has improved with each edition and it was something that wasn't lost on Baker afterwards.
"Marc is very impressive and the way that his style has changed is great to see. The way that he leans off the bike is very different to my style but he has the bike upright and drives forward."
Around the short 200m track Marquez was able to follow Baker but the only way past was with the American making a mistake. With none forthcoming Marquez had to settle for second.
"I tried to make a good start in the race but in the first corner I made a little mistake and lost some time," said Marquez. "Brad opened up a gap and I was able to close the gap down again, but to overtake, especially on these track conditions, was really difficult. I tried until the last corner, but I couldn’t do it. But with another year I’ve learnt so much from them, and they’re racing all year against each other on their Harley Davisons, on their Hondas, and I’m just happy to be on the podium for one more year!"
The improvements of the European riders was something that impressed third place finisher Jared Mees. The reigning AMA Flat Track champion had to settle for third at the flag after making a poor start and fighting through from fifth position.
"I had the fourth choice of lane draw and I ended up on the outside," said Mees. "I knew that making a good start would be difficult from there and I was fifth on the first lap. With the track conditions as they were it was very difficult to recover that time and at the end of the race I had a great view of the fight between Marc and Brad for the win but Brad stayed smooth, just like he always does at home, and he took home the win.
"From last year to this year the European riders have made a huge step forward with their consistency. Last year they would have one fast lap and then the second lap wouldn't be as quick but this year they so much more consistent. It's a great event and the organisers do a great job and it's honour for me and Brad to come here."
With almost 8,000 fans filling the Palau Sant Jordi it's clear that there will be plenty more opportunities for the European riders to prove their worth on the dirt.