Cardús, at the top of the Flat Track
LAURA RODRÍGUEZ – Impressed and very satisfied, Ferran Cardús returns home after his particular American dream. The first and current Spanish champion of Flat Track has debuted in the best competition of the world of this off-road discipline of the hand of Brad Baker, one of the most influential pilots in this peculiar modality in which it competes with bikes without front brake. The technique is to control the skid, but in America you have to add the high speed and the small centimeter that separates you from the wall.
How was the debut on the American Flat Track?
It was very good. At the first race in Daytona we arrived with real chance to get on the podium, my times were fast and competitive. I was always scoring between the second and third time for the lowest lap, but at the start I had a touch with another rider and I fell. From there, I had ten laps to go up from the last place – eighteenth – to the seventh place.
Finish seventh in your debut among the best of the discipline, not bad!
No, not really. By time I could have been higher in the classification, but without hardly training in the tracks it is not easy.
What differences are there in the tracks?
There the tracks are huge, much more than the ones here. The first race at Daytona was a TT, a circuit that includes both right and left turns. The next two were already in oval – all the curves to the left – but the length four times greater respect to the European tracks, with the raised curves and rolling to a finger of the wall. And at 120 km / h!
How do you get used to it?
Training. But in Flat Track we do not have sessions of 45 minutes to roll, are only five free laps plus five with timekeeping. It is impossible to assimilate that speed and that kind of gigantic tracks in just ten laps.
No doubt, the present of the Flat Track is in America.
Yes, that’s where the highest level is, the AMA Pro Flat Track is the best competition in the discipline and where the best drivers are.
So, was it your goal to participate in this Championship?
Ride in America has been a dream! I’m drawn back. And all thanks to the Federation, the AMA Pro Flat Track and, above all, Brad Baker.
Baker, one of the most influential pilots of this off-road mode. How do you know him?
On the Superprestigio that is organized every year in Barcelona. Already since the first edition we had a very good roll and, from then on, we became friends. Brad comes back here every year, to my house, and is one of the family. Now he has invited me and the truth is that I have felt one more. If it had not been for him, he would never have taken part in these races.
Have you spent all your time in America together?
Yes, all month. I arrived in Seattle, where Brad lives, and we stayed there for a week with his family. We took the car and went to Florida to run the first race in Daytona. Then we moved to Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte.
Good route … and accompanied by an autochthon and king of discipline.
And Team Manager! The team on which I raced the three events is Brad’s one. He competes in a team, but also has another of his own.
What does he teach you?
All! Everything I’ve learned has been thanks to him. In America the Flat Track has nothing to do with the one we know here. The circuits are four times bigger and the speed is four times faster. Everything changes. You land on a track there and at first you are lost. This experience without Brad would have been different. You must think that everything, both the piloting and the set-up of the motorcycle, are different.
A lot of changes for a short time.
That was the problem. Brad explained to me how everything worked, but in a week it is difficult to assimilate. Despite that, I ended up satisfied because I think for the short time I’ve been, things have gone quite well.
You changed team and also dorsal for a month.
Yes, as normal I am 77, but it was already caught. So look for one that would end up just the same. The 177 already had it, the 277 also, so I stayed with the 377.
Did the first race experience help you in Atlanta?
At Daytona it was fine, but I was a bit lost. So before the next, we went to Georgia to train. There, I took more the trick to what the American competition requires, although in this race I did not get into the Superfinal!
In the last race, in Charlotte, the results were better.
Yes, in Charlotte I finished ninth. I also had pace to get on the podium, my times were always very fast, but it was a very rough race. It forced to stop the sleeve and to restart it later. The rear brake lever broke and, although we had time to fix it, we did not do it right and I went with the bike braked all the way. In addition, the penalty for changing the piece was to leave last on the grid, which forced me to go back through lap until I cross ninth under the checkered flag.
A slightly bittersweet flavor due to accidents.
Yes, the sensations were very good, both mine and those of the team. We all saw that we could get on the podium, but it is clear that we need to accumulate miles and experience in that type of competition. Besides the luck factor! But the truth is that the last one was a hard race because in the fall, at the beginning of the Superfinal, a companion who took the ambulance after the accident lost his life.
All riders, regardless of discipline, are at great risk. What happened?
No doubt, it is a very risky sport. We all go very fast and very close together and if you fall, you are likely to get hit and more on the way out! There was an accident between several pilots and one of them went over …
If you had to highlight something negative about the American Flat Track, what would it be?
The risk. The speed is higher and the walls almost touch you. Imagine passing at 120 km / h with the handlebar to a finger on the wall. And if you shoot solo is good, but running with eighteen riders behind is more complicated. If you fall, they keep on you for sure.
And from here?
Does this discipline have a future in Europe? Here, even in the World Cup, the level is low. The starting grids in America are composed by more than seventy pilots, whereas here if there are twenty inscribed is already much. The Flat Track in Europe is another world, here people hardly know the modality, it is very new. So I think if this sport is spread more and more sponsors are involved, in Europe in the end there may be a future. Now we are three ahead, but in a few years maybe we will compete twenty to win, as in America.
In fact, in Spain until last year was not organized the national championship of this modality, of which you are the first champion. What are the goals for 2017?
Last year we won the Rodi Cup, which is the equivalent of the Catalan championship and also the Spanish Supermoto. Now, my goal is to repeat the results of the previous year and re-win the titles. If we could also go back to America and stay there for a while, that would be perfect!
In Spain you compete with Braktec material and for what it seems, it works more than good! Are you happy with it?
I am so much satisfied. I have tried the hydraulic clutch and I liked it very much. It works very well and it has never given me problems. This weekend we started the national Flat Track and in two weeks, the Supermoto. So I’m sure we’ll ride it on some of the bikes.
You started the competition at home, but are you thinking about going back to USA?
I’m looking forward! But now I have been able to thank Brad, my sponsors and the Federation. The American Flat Track is very expensive, if I had to pay it myself, I would not have been able to go.