VALENCIA, SPAIN – July 13, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Fresh from his podium finish at the Lima Half Mile, the American shook off jet lag and jumped on a Noyes Camp Kawasaki KX450F to set quick time in qualifying, won his heat and then put his name in the record books by being the first winner of a Spanish Flat Track National. The Washingtonian quickly fought off a challenge from on-form Ferran Cardus and Oliver Brindley, current leader of the British Dirt Track Championship (DTRA).
Cardus said seeing Baker on the “big” track was impressive. “When I first went out on the quarter mile I thought it was too narrow because I kept running wide, but watching Brad I figured out I had to hit those late apexes. I learned a lot this weekend and I´ll be working to be ready for him in the fall.”
The quarter mile oval, a completely new venue built near the main paddock of the Ricardo Tormo GP Circuit of the Valencian Community, gave Spanish riders, more accustomed to eighth-miles, an opportunity to adapt to a conventional American-style short track. The circuit is, in fact, a near replica of California´s Lodi Cycle Bowl.
“I´ve raced many of these guys on the little indoor track in Barcelona that we use for the Superprestigio, but this was a great opportunity for Spanish fans and riders to experience flat track racing outdoors, on a full quarter mile and on the same Dunlop 19s that we use at home. This is my fourth trip to Spain and every time I see these guys getting faster. I really enjoy the atmosphere here and I´m glad to have the opportunity to introduce our sport,” said Brad.
After Saturday´s race under the lights, the teams returned on Sunday to race on the TT variant of the same circuit. With temperatures reaching 95 degrees, the racing heated up as well and, while Baker continued winning, two new challengers, Terol and Ivan Romero, both local Valencian riders, emerged.
“I expected Nico (Terol) to be fast on the TT course. I was watching him, Cardus and Brindley, (Franc) Serra and the other fast guys, and I could see that Nico was riding fast and smooth, wheels in line, like a road racer and I knew he´d be fast.
Starting off from the middle of the six-rider front row, Baker was bumped wide, tangled with Cardus, spun up and lost ground. When he looked up the track at the end of lap one he was seventh and could see that Terol had broken clear. One by one he picked off riders, finally getting past Brindley and Romero to move into second. Three laps later and with four to go he took the lead he was able to pull out a safe advantage.
“The track was breaking up in a few places and I realized that I´d have to stay calm and not make any more mistakes. I figured I could catch him (Terol) over the fourteen laps, but only if I rode as smooth as he was riding,” said Brad after winning his second final of the weekend. “The races you like the most are the ones that are hardest.”
Terol, currently riding in World Supersport, said, “I looked back a couple of times. The first time I saw Brad way back there and thought maybe if I could keep my pace I could win, but when I looked back a couple of laps later he was second and coming hard. I really enjoyed this weekend and I am planning to ride as many rounds as I can. Brad says he´s coming back in the fall and I want to have another go at him. It´s really fantastic to see just how wild he looks from the side of the track and how steady when you see him up close in a race. I´m hooked on flat track!”
The third round of the RFME Copa de Flat Track (the official title of the Championship) moves to San Martin de la Vega (Madrid) where yet another brand new track (this one a replica of the Motegi, Japan, quarter mile) awaits on July 30. Baker will be back in action at the Charlotte Half Mile, but plans to return for the final two rounds in October and November.
Could an American be Spain´s first Flat Track Champion? Possibly. The series consists if seven races but riders can discard their worst result. Baker, if he wins the final two races, will reach 100 points, a total that a rider finishing third six times could exceed.
Support races at Valencia were won by Ferran Sastre (Rookie class) on both days while Juame Gaya and Guillermo Cano split victories in the Master (Senior) category.