A Superprestigio Welcome

At today’s media luncheon, RPM Racing welcomed the AMA Pro Flat Track racers to Barcelona.

Superprestigio participants at media launch

RPM Racing hosted a luncheon this afternoon in Barcelona to promote Saturday’s Superprestigio dirt-track invitational at the Palau Sant Jordi. Forty-eight riders, including 10 world champions, are entered in two classes, Superprestigio and Open. RPM has accredited 103 journalists, 40 percent of whom are traveling to Spain from other countries.

Grand National Champions Jared Mees and Brad Baker, multi-time Pro Singles race-winner Shayna Texter, and seven-time GNC titlist Chris Carr (here for television commentary) represented AMA Pro Flat Track. Three-time World Superbike Champion Troy Bayliss also attended the multiple-course affair, as did 2010 Moto2 World Champion Toni Elias, 2014 CEV International Superbike Champion Kenny Noyes, and four-time World Enduro Champion Ivan Cervantes.

Maite Fandos, Barcelona’s Deputy Mayor for Quality of Life, Equality and Sport, delivered the opening remarks. She praised Texter for being the first female to compete in the Superprestigio, giving the 23-year-old Pennsylvanian a thumb’s up from the podium. Journalist Dennis Noyes interviewed the riders on stage. Noyes’ book, “Cinta Americana,” a 48-year compilation of his Spanish writings, was launched at the event.

This is Mees’ first overseas trip. “Anything under three-eighths of a mile is considered a short track,” he explained when asked about the Palau’s 200-meter oval. “We compete on short tracks, half-miles, miles, and also TTs, which have at least one right-hander and possibly a jump.”

Baker, who won last January’s Superprestigio, arrived last Friday and spent the past four days lapping local tracks. “I’ve had a really good time riding with some amazing racers, like Tito Rabat, Kenny Noyes, Maverick Vinales, and Aleix Espargaro,” Baker said. “Last night, I was pretty tired.”

Speaking about his son, Kenny, Noyes recalled the 10-hour drives they used to make from their home in Borrego Springs, California, to the Lodi Cycle Bowl near Sacramento. “When I started racing,” Kenny said, “my goal was to try to be close to Chris at the 100 national at Lodi. It’s awesome to see dirt track in Spain, which I never expected. I hope it takes off here.”

Superprestigio Luncheon Menu

Texter spent this past season as a rookie in the Expert class on a Triumph twin. "We made four Grand National main events," she said. "I was the first female to win an AMA Pro Grand National dirt-track race in the history of the sport. I'm really happy to be a part of this event."

As with Mees, this is Texter's first competition outside the US. She, too, hand-carried several key components—handlebar, suspension, and pipe—to install on a borrowed Honda CRF450R. What's more, for this event, Texter will run number 50 rather than her usual 25.

At 45, Bayliss is the oldest rider in the race. “It was so hard to leave racing,” he admitted. “Long story short, I found myself riding dirt track, where it all started for me. I just love every moment of it. I don’t really feel so old.” Bayliss promotes his own dirt-track race, the Troy Bayliss Classic, in Australia. “There are a lot of faces here that I know, some that I’ve looked up to, like Chris Carr,” he said. “We’re going to have a great time.”

Noyes then introduced Carr. “I said 78 wins,” Noyes began. “Was I right?” Carr chuckled. “I haven’t counted ’em lately. I won’t be racing this weekend, but it will be fun to talk about dirt track. Kenny Roberts came over here and started a school back in 1990 or so, and now, we have a truly international dirt-track race here in Barcelona.”

Elias and Cervantes rounded out the rider interviews. Elias admitted he’s only been riding dirt track for a few weeks. “I never raced in dirt track in my life,” he said. “I started two months ago, but I enjoy it a lot. I know it’s difficult and the setup is really important. We are doing our best.”

Cervantes doesn’t expect to win, either. “I raced Supercross and indoor enduro but never dirt track,” he said. “It’s very difficult for me; they don’t have a front brake, you know? My first experience was really bad, but I’m happy to be here with excellent pro riders.”

RPM Racing president Jaime Alguersuari provided a touching greeting. “This is not just a normal presentation, something like that lasts an hour and a half,” he said. “This is going to be four hours. Why? Because we love this sport.

“Dirt track is yours. It belongs to you, Americans. We’re admirers of that sport. But this country, Catalunya, is really the origin of motorcycle racing in Spain. Do you remember the Bultaco Astro? Montesa? Those factories were all right here in Barcelona. Right after the civil war, there was nothing.

“Now, the Spanish riders, the vast majority of them being from Catalunya, are winning everything in roadracing and other disciplines. Nothing happens by accident. There’s a long history behind it—engineers, factories and, above all, the people. That’s the country of Catalunya.

“And it’s from that country, and on behalf of that country, that I welcome you.”