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Monster athletes compete at the 2017 MX Hangtown race in Rancho Cordova, CA

Monster Energy/JGR/AutoTrader Suzuki’s Justin Barcia

May 242017

Motocross and supercross racing can be kind of a cruel sport. It’s harsh, and it’s unforgiving, and that’s just how the racers are treated by the fans and teams. Justin Barcia had a get-off in the off-season that left him with a broken wrist, and as soon as it was healed enough for him to ride, he was cast into the fire to do battle with the best racers in the entire world. And he struggled considerably. But with the Hangtown MX National opener this past weekend in Rancho Cordova, California, Barcia was able to get a fresh start on a new championship series, and he showed a lot of heart on his way to a 11-5 score after a first-moto fall. We caught up with him to see what he expected of himself, and what we should expect of him going forward.


You guys go from night-time Supercross races, in mostly cool-to-cold weather, to some serious heat and a brutal track like we had at Hangtown, in a short period of time. Can you put it into words how difficult that is to do?

For me, supercross didn’t go well... I got hurt at the beginning of the season, so I was kind of struggling, but I did my best, and I was kind of ready to go outdoors, really... But still, this weekend was definitely a bit of a shock to the body and stuff. We train pretty hard during the week, but it’s never an easy transition – especially this weekend, because it was a little warmer than I think most of us would’ve liked, and the track was probably the worst it’s ever been there. It was definitely one of the harder transitions [from supercross to motocross] I’ve had to do in a while.

In the first moto, you had that early crash and then came back through pretty close to the top 10, so did that sap energy from you at all for the second moto?

I don’t know if I really used more energy coming through the pack, but I will say it was a little harder on my body just because I fell pretty hard, so I was a little bruised up. It’s possible I could’ve done something a little more in the second one without that, but I actually felt pretty good the second moto. I got a little tight in the middle of the race, but that cleared up toward the end. It was one of the more challenging motos, for sure.

Did the wrist injury you suffered during the off-season before supercross do a lot to hamper your transition from Yamahas to Suzukis there with the JGR team?

Yeah, for sure, I was just getting used to the new bike and testing and stuff, and then I had a chain snap and I broke my wrist, so... I felt like I was riding good, and then I had to take a lot of time off and then get back on the bike and do that whole transition again. It wasn’t ideal, that’s for sure. Mentally, it was a pretty big challenge for me.

“Mentally” meaning you have to be able to trust that your chain won’t break again?

No, no, not like that. “Mentally” like I felt like I was in a good position, and I came back and they were halfway through the series, so it was mentally difficult to get right in the race mix. I wasn’t where I wanted to be, and I wasn’t in race shape, and it was really frustrating.

So, you’re saying, everybody was at a race pace and had been battling it out for weeks, and then you just jump in the middle...

Yeah, exactly, and unfortunately I’ve had to do that the last couple of years, so that’s definitely been shitty. It’s just super-hard to come into the supercross season, where you’re racing the best guys in the world as it is, and then you come in not 100%. But even with all that, you have to go race, because it’s your job! Even seeing Trey [Canard], he came back and then kind of crashed a couple of times and was like, “Eh, I’m just going to get ready for outdoors...” Unfortunately for me, I didn’t really have that option like he did to just say, “Hey, I’m just going to get ready for outdoors!”

It’s a common problem, though. You’re already up against the stiffest competition you can possibly have, then you’re also hurt and behind the ball on testing...

Physically and mentally it’s definitely not easy, but you kind of just get through it and then move on to outdoors. I feel like I’m in a pretty good place with everything. I just wish I wouldn’t have crashed that first moto, because I would’ve probably been a little better. But, all in all, the second moto I was in a pretty good spot, so...

At round one, though, was a top-five what you expected from yourself, all things considered, like you got in that second moto?

I mean, I’d like to have been on the podium at the first race, for sure, but... You know, with Hangtown, it’s the first round, and your suspension is usually a little off or something, but I felt like my bike was pretty comfortable for me, and we made a few changes, but it wasn’t anything drastic. The second moto, I felt like that’s where I should’ve been, but obviously the first half of the moto I ran Marvin [Musquin]’s pace, and then I fell off it later. I think as the season goes on, I’ll be able to be better about that and hopefully be battling for some podiums.

You did that last year, too, because by the end, you were in the top three almost every week. Is that the frustration you’re talking about having to always come through from a disadvantaged position like that?

Yeah, I mean, it’s not really anyone’s fault but my own for getting hurt, really, and obviously bike stuff happens, so I know I kind of put myself at a disadvantage. But I know I can get better, and this weekend the first moto sucked, but I rode good, and the second moto was better, so I feel like I need to build quicker this year and not wait until we get to the east coast to turn it on. I know that physically I can turn it on now and make it through the rest of the season, so I hopefully this weekend we’ll show some good stuff.

More info on the 2017 FIM Motocross World Championship HERE!