Bizarre case of Hector Barbera and a stolen WorldSSP bike nears trial

Ex-MotoGP rider Hector Barbera stands accused of being involved in the theft of a WorldSSP bike after he refused to ride it on 'safety grounds'

Hector Barbera

Just over a year ago, WorldSSP outfit Team Toth Hungary were forced to withdraw from the third round of the season at Motorland Aragon when – just hours before the race – it reported its Yamaha R6 as stolen.

The disappearance came just a day after its rider, former MotoGP racer Hector Barbera, had declared he no longer wanted to compete with the team because there wasn’t enough money to upgrade his engine. 

Since then there has been no sign of the motorcycle, despite Spanish police getting involved, while Barbera has gone on to compete in the British Superbike Championship. 

However, Team Toth has continued to pursue the theory that Barbera himself was behind the disappearance and are duly taking the matter to court in Spain.

At the time Barbera wrote on Instagram that his sudden withdrawal – despite finishing fourth and seventh ni the opening two races – was a safety matter. 

“For my safety and for the safety of the other riders, today I will not be able to race, we have no means,” Barbera said the post, which is still visible today. “And what started as a dream ends as a nightmare. The problems of non-payment and compliance with the agreement between who had to be our main sponsor and the team make this adventure in SSP end today, at home, in a race that made me especially excited, without even being able to run the race .

“I feel a lot of anger and helplessness, in the third race with these means and after being fourth in the general classification, we have no choice but to accept this situation and continue fighting as I have done in these years.”

Team owner Imre Toth believes Barbera to have instructed two of his mechanics to enter the Aragon paddock and remove the bike, evidence he says he can prove when the case goes to trial in Spain shortly.

“For me, the situation has been complicated by Corona because my lawyer is not allowed to travel," Toth told Speedweek. “The police handed over all the findings to the court. Normally we would have had a meeting with the lawyers in Alcaniz in April, but at the moment we can do nothing except wait. 

“I have a 1hr 40min testimonial from the Spanish mechanics saying that they stole the bike because Barbera didn't want to do it himself. We can use that in court. A lot of time has passed since the incident, I don't know if the motorcycle is still in its original condition. 

“The campaign cost me at least 50,000 euros, and I also lost many sponsors. For Barbera it will be 100 percent bad that he did to me and my team.”

Despite the looming case, Barbera has gone on to reassert his career with a brief stint in the WorldSBK Championship and more recently in British Superbikes, where he will compete with the OMG Racing BMW team in 2020.

However, Barbera does have prior run-ins with the law having lost his Moto2 ride with Pons Racing in 2018 after failing a drink-drive test when stopped by police in Valencia.