Motorcycle champion moves to top of the podium

Eric Curro knows he is a rock star. He was not riding a dirt bike in a small town in Argentina when he dreamed up his career in America. He was riding a motorcycle…

Motorcycle champion moves to top of the podium

Eric Curro knows he is a rock star. He was not riding a dirt bike in a small town in Argentina when he dreamed up his career in America. He was riding a motorcycle in Argentina. And he’s actually an American too. Although his home remains in the Argentine town, he was born in rural Kansas and bred in the muscular world of motorcycle racing, the place he says is “the mecca of motorsports”.

He may not be a rock star, but he’s about to have his moment in the stardom. The 34-year-old US moto-world champion — who hails from a town of 15,000 people in the beautiful province of Mendoza and has won nine races this season — became the longest-serving rider in European MotoGP history on Saturday, breaking the record held by Italy’s Marco Simoncelli.

Back in the mid-80s, Curro was doing manual labour in his native Kansas with dreams of becoming a professional biker. He was making decent money from wheeling around the highways with his friends, but his performance on a motorbike and his high-octane racing style caught the eye of MotoGP boss Cesar Craviotto.

“He was head of MotoGP for three years and the first guy to test a prototype bike, and I was considered too good,” said Curro, who won the first of his eight races in MotoGP in 2007. “But it was a lot of luck. The prototypes were really hard to build back then. I had an impact from all the MotoGP people in the United States. I really got the blessing of the sport. I started doing a little stocky sidecar on the Yamaha and I earned a great deal of respect. And that put me on track.”

Curro’s success came in America. But by the time he and his partner and racing partner Johann Zarco got their first taste of international success in 2013 — after three years behind the wheel of a Yamaha — they had moved to Argentina and begun building a life on the MotoGP circuit.

Last year, Curro set an unprecedented first-ever podium finish for a MotoGP rider in Argentina, but he was unable to crack the all-important points scoring top five. This year, he’s had a fair crack at it and, having finished the season as MotoGP’s No. 1 rider, he’s looking forward to the season-ending race in Valencia next month.

“I’m really happy. I didn’t know it was going to be this good. It’s been a great season. I struggled a bit to get my points tally in the beginning, but towards the middle of the season I won two races. I was saying that I didn’t have the bike to win races and do points scoring, but I knew with time I would have some good races,” said Curro.

“MotoGP is a hard sport, but this one is easy. It’s the best of the best, so it’s not that hard. It’s really fun to be a part of. We race for the love of the sport, and the great fans, and that’s what makes it so special. I’ve been happy. My girlfriend and I couldn’t be happier.”

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