It seems incredible. In the 61-year history of the FIM Motocross World Championship—a series once littered with a variety of Spanish motorcycles like Bultaco, Ossa, Montesa, and Derbi—the country cannot claim a single world champ in the principal categories of the sport. The best a rider from Spain ever did was Javier Garcia Vico’s third-place in the 500cc class in 2001. There was also a smattering of GP wins a decade ago for Jonathan Barragan, and Carlos Campano clinched the sidelined and now extinct MX3 class in 2010. On the whole, slim pickings for Spain.
In the meantime, Spanish racing fans have witnessed an explosion of dominance in MotoGP’s premier class that dates to the beginning of the century. There’s also been great success in rally, Dakar, enduro, and even in trials, with record-book obliterator Toni Bou being the latest and greatest of a stream of immensely skilled riders. The country’s fondness for motorcycling generally, the willingness to promote racing as a national sport rivaling football for attention, and a vanguard effort at structures and competitions to find and foster young riding talent has forged a motorcycling superpower. Still, motocross fans waited.