Cycle News

Cycle News 2014 Issue 02 January 14 2014

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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CN III CARRUTHERS SAYS P90 BY PAUL CARRUTHERS EL REY DE LA TIERRA F ive men finished ahead of Marc Marquez in races this past year – Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi and Cal Crutchlow. Oh, and Brad Baker. Baker did it on Saturday in the Superprestigio dirt track held at the Palau Sant Jordi indoor arena in Barcelona, Spain – a race made possible by Marquez and Spanish magazine Solo Moto. The idea behind the short track was to rekindle the Superprestigios of the past (Spanish international road races where the likes of Colin Edwards made his international debut on a TZ250 at Jarama in 1992), but on a short track dirt oval where top-level road racers could strut their stuff on the dirt against each other and against dirt trackers. All while remaining relatively safe from injury. The idea was a good one and one that worked – mainly because Marquez is a huge dirt track fan who uses his Honda CRF450F to train on during the off-season. He's also a damn good little dirt track racer. So Marquez got behind the event and when you have the Spanish MotoGP World Champion behind a motorcycle race in Spain, it's going to be a success. Period. The only mistake Marquez made was taking the bait set in the water by Motorcycle-USA.com columnist Mark Gardiner. Gar- diner figured that in order to have a true international dirt track, the AMA Grand National Champion should be there. So he did some work and made it happen. Good for Gardiner, good for Baker and good for Marquez. Sort of. After the two qualified for the SuperFinal by pretty much dominating all of the heat races in their respective divisions, it came down to what everyone wanted to see: Marquez vs. Baker. Diminutive MotoGP World Champion vs. big, bad, back woods American flat tracker. Two 20 year olds with enormous talent levels doing battle on a short track in Spain on modified 450cc motocross bikes. Euro's best vs. America's best. What's not to like? It was almost too good to be true as the race was everything it was billed to be. The two went back and forth with contrasting styles – the ultra-smooth Baker running it in deep and squaring it off while the rattier Marquez tried the more conventional and parabolic line through the tight two corners. All was good until a few laps from the end when the two came together at the end of the front straight. That's when Marquez came out on the short end of the stick with Baker showing him a bit of elbow that sent the Spaniard sprawling to the ground. The crowd was quickly quieted, Baker rode on to victory and some- where Jorge Lorenzo was doing his victory jump from the coffee table in front of his favorite couch. Boom! Welcome to American dirt track racing, Marc. And a sip of one's own medicine, some would say. Baker's move in MotoGP would have put him into the ranks of Marquez. It would have earned him penalty points from race direction and he would have been on some sort of double-secret probation. But this wasn't MotoGP. This was flat tracking. And there ain't no stinkin' penalty points in flat tracking. A move like Baker's in dirt track assures you one thing and one thing only: You're the one kissing the trophy girl at the end of the night. And if your rival has a problem with it… well, maybe the next elbow thrown will be at your chin. And in his defense, Marquez seemed perfectly okay with it and it was never a case of the pot calling the kettle black. And Baker… well, he's a good kid with a conscience and I'm sure, at least initially, he was worried that Marquez was injured. But he also came to Spain to win because he doesn't know any other way. And it certainly wouldn't have looked good for the AMA Grand National Champion to get beat. On a dirt track. By a little Spanish road racer wearing leathers. Oh hell no. Not happening. This is Baker's game. His bread

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