Superprestigio Through The Eyes Of Shayna Texter

JD Beach and Briar Bauman benefit from fellow flat-tracker's experience in Spain

Shayna Texter, American Flat Track, dirt track, motorcycle, racing
Shayna Texter won five races and finished third overall in the American Flat Track Singles points standings in 2017. Here, she is flanked by Dan Bromley (left) and eventual class champion Kolby Carlile.Courtesy of American Flat Track

Three years ago, Shayna Texter applied for a passport, grabbed her helmet and steel shoe, and left the US for the first time in her life to compete in the Superprestigio Dirt Track Invitation in Barcelona. This past week, the multi-time American Flat Track Singles race winner returned to the Spanish city with boyfriend Briar Bauman and flat-tracker-turned-roadracer JD Beach, who were making their debuts at the Palau Sant Jordi arena.

As the proverbial eyes and heart of the American delegation, Texter made mental notes, wrote down lap times, and debriefed Bauman and Beach after each practice session, pointing to areas where they could improve and what other competitors were doing well. The fact that she had experienced the event firsthand, knew the promoters and regulations, and understood the differences in the setup of the machines was also helpful.

"Racing the Superprestigio in 2014 was a good experience for me," Texter said. "This is my second time out of the country and the first for Briar. He was thankful because I prepared him to leave the country. We are so busy racing that we don't really need passports. Three years ago, I got my passport just one day before I flew to Spain. This year, Briar fortunately had a one-week margin.

“When I first came over here, I struggled a bit to adapt. Everything about the Superprestigio is different—motocross-style gate, tire spec, suspension. Everyday life changes, too. The Spanish eat five times a day but in small portions. We eat three times, so I prepared sandwiches and did my best so Briar and JD would feel more at home. Everything for us revolves around training and racing, so flying to Europe for a race is an important human experience.”

Prior to Saturday night’s 16-lap SuperFinal, which was won by Beach with Bauman finishing in the runner-up spot, Texter talked me through some of the keys to this unique event.

Tires: First, you need to adapt to the 17-inch Michelin rain tires, which react differently than the 19-inch Dunlops we use in the US. The 17s are much softer and require that you change your riding style. With the 19s, we can ride harder and the tires are more forgiving. There is no room for a mistake with the 17s.

Suspension: We had two lengths because the suspension is softer to suit the tires. We had our suspension redone and also changed the riding style a bit, leaning the bike more aggressively. This is why Brad Baker's style was so effective; he rides 19s more like 17s.

Riding style: It's curious to compare the American style of riding with MotoGP. Americans traditionally ride more on top of the bike, with their hips more open and legs bent, while roadracers lean more, squeeze the bike, and put their legs out straight.

Pressure: It's tough to race overseas because everyone in the US is watching. We are dirt-track specialists but we are racing our childhood idols. It's a big deal to ride with MotoGP riders. It happened to me and Brad Baker when we competed with Marc Marquez, and this year it's the same for Briar and JD with Johann Zarco. The pressure is high, so you need to calm down when you share the track with these riders.

Track: The track changes constantly and the riders need to be ready to adapt. This is natural for us, and racing Superprestigio keeps us mentally sharp and riding in the off-season. For MotoGP riders, this is a challenge to increase their flexibility for new situations.

JD Beach: He is a natural motorcycle racer. He roadraced the whole year and showed up at the last round of the AFT series and finished on the podium. His strengths are the ability to adapt to changes and speed. JD is also racing in a more familiar atmosphere. He used to live with Casey Stoner and Cameron Beaubier when he was racing in the Red Bull Rookies Cup.

Briar Bauman: He is a lot taller than JD and is able to use that as leverage. He hasn't had much time to adapt to the 17-inch tires. It's very important for him to not get overly excited. Making the debut at the Palau Sant Jordi is an extra challenge and pressure.

Toni Elias: He is a work horse, very similar to Jared Mees or Ryan Dungey. He works hard to improve every time and it shows: He constantly improves. He also raced round 18 of the AFT series and has kept on working.

Ferran Cardus: He has trained a lot with Brad Baker. He looks like Brad's twin when he rides.

Johann Zarco: His improvement from day one to race day was impressive. Johann gained both comfort and consistency on the bike. Dirt track is very good for throttle control. At the beginning, he was grabbing a handful of gas; at the end, he was rolling on the throttle.