|BARCELONA, Spain (Dec. 15, 2017) – As riders took to the track at the Palau Sant Jordi for their first practice of the fifth edition of Superprestigio, American Flat Track riders defended their turf with the top three times coming from the Open Class. Leading the way was back-to-back Spanish National Flat Track Champion Ferran Cardus with an 11.968. Racing the first three American Flat Track rounds in 2017, the Suzuki RM-Z450 rider returned to Spain in top form and looks to add the Superprestigio crown to his resume in 2017.
Although Cardus has home field advantage, there were a pair of Superprestigio rookies from the U.S. – Briar Bauman and JD Beach – equally keen to take top honors in tomorrow’s race. Bauman on a Zanotti-prepped Kawasaki KX450F trailed Cardus by 0.009 seconds and goes into his Superprestigio debut tomorrow feeling good about his chances.
“The track is something like I’ve never ridden before,” Bauman said. “We’re changing a few things. We messed with the tire a little bit, there’s some suspension things… but we felt good nonetheless. We were real close. Hopefully the things we changed help for tomorrow’s race. We’ll be able to know right away. I think we are in a good spot heading into tomorrow’s race.”
Beach was also not far behind, posting the third fastest time with a 12.019. The American is eager for his Superprestigio debut and is ready for some racing on his #95 Ausio/Grau Racing Yamaha YZ450F.
“It’s awesome to be able to come back to Spain and race dirt track and represent America,” Beach said. “It was really cool to finally get the chance to ride here in the stadium. It’s been weird because I’ve ridden at four or five tracks here in Spain and each track we go to somebody says, ‘Oh, this track is like Superprestigio, it’s the same size or it’s the same that.’ We get here and it’s completely different.
“We’re just going to sleep on it tonight and see if we can figure out how to get about one tenth of a second or so, or even less than that. I think tomorrow is going to be really hard, but it’s going to be a lot of fun and I can’t wait.”
Setting the fastest time in the Superprestigio class was Moto 3 rider Marco Ramirez (KTM) with a 12.241. Former FIM CEV Superbike Champion Carmelo Morales (Husqvarna) was second followed by the 2010 Moto 2 World Champion/reigning MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Toni Elias (Suzuki RM-Z450).
Like Cardus, Elias not only brings with him experience from previous Superprestigio races, but in American Flat Track as well. The former World Champion raced the American Flat Track Finals earlier this October in Perris, Calif., and hopes to rebound from exhaust problems in today’s first practice session to best last year’s second-place Superprestigio finish with a win.