While American flat track racer Brad Baker hasn’t had much time on a road race track, he has had plenty of time on a dirt track. And those ties to road racing have sort have been strengthened now that flat track racing has become fashionable again for road race training. Since an outsider can bring a different perspective, the 2013 Grand National Champion was asked in advance of this year’s fourth running of the Superprestigio on Saturday, December 17 to size up his competition – five-time World Champion Marc Marquez.
The pair have had epic battles on the Palau Sant Jordi short track, with Baker winning two out of three so far (Marquez winning in Baker’s absence). So Baker’s had more than enough time to size up his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. As it turns out, not all that dissimilar from Baker himself.
“I’d say his strength is his aggression,” Baker said. “He attacks a track all the way around. So it builds a lot of speed, he’s fast. He can put in a very good lap time. That same strength is sometimes his weakness because pushing that hard, trying that hard on a racetrack that is very technical, and sometimes lacks grip and traction, leads to mistakes. So his strength is sometimes his weakness and I believe that is the same sometimes in MotoGP, which I’ve seen him get a lot better at in this last year. It’s also something I’ve had to work on. We’re young riders and we like to push the limits and sometimes that leads to mistakes and loses us races.”
He also gave Marquez a lot of props for his ability to do so well in a variety of disciplines. “Marc, he’s a great rider, anything he does whether it’s enduro, motocross, road racing, flat track… he tries to do his best and pushes hard.”
The evaluations didn’t end there. Now that Baker has spun laps with both Marquez on his home turf in Catalunya and Valentino Rossi on his home turf at the Ranch in Tavullia, Italy, it begged the question of how did they compare?
“I would say the differences between Marc and Valentino is that Valentino seemed to be a little bit more precise in his riding style, whereas Marquez is a little bit more of a wing it, just 'go-for-it' type of rider,” Baker explained. “Basically the same characteristic that you see on a MotoGP bike is the same characteristic of what they are on a flat track bike.”
Going into Saturday’s Superprestigio race, Baker’s prediction of who will have the upper hand circled back to thoughts about taming some of that natural aggression. “I think this race here is about the rider that gets the best start and keeps his head about him, tries to be consistent and makes the least amount of mistakes.”