Photos & Interview by: Chase Yocom, Written by: Dan Lamb
There’s nothing better than a good comeback story in moto, and Monster Energy / Yamaha’s Justin Barcia‘s career turnaround in 2018 has turned into the feel good story of the year. I interviewed Justin at the 2017 Monster Energy Cup when he showed up to race on a privateer Honda and titled that interview “Back to the Beginning” which is exactly what it was. The twenty-six year-old had probably not been a privateer since he was on peewees, so you have to go pretty far back to find the #51 pitted out of anything other than a team rig.
Heading into the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross season, Yamaha picked up BamBam as a fill-in rider for Davi Millsaps and he has taken the ball and run with it. Justin landed on the 450SX podium three times during the SX season—he missed 7 main events with an injury—and 14 motos into the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, he sits third in the Championship and finished in the top three in eight of the 14 motos so far this season. After a 2017 that saw Justin on the podium a grand total of zero times, he has reestablished himself as one of the elite riders in the world in 2018.
Chase Yocom tracked down Justin to talk to him about his career turnaround, his outdoor season, whether or not he expects to re-sign with Yamaha and his podium at the last round at RedBud. Check out what Justin and Chase talked about below.
Justin, you went 4-2 at RedBud for another podium and another great day for you. In the first moto, you had a little bit of a rough start but you rode great.
Yeah, I rode awesome. The setup was a little off on the bike. I rode really good, just a little off on my setup. For the second moto, we made some changes—positive changes—so that was good. I was bummed after the second moto ’cause I felt I should have done better, but it was a solid ride.
I saw you rip your goggles off. I was stoked to see it, though.
I just want to win! (laughs)
Yeah, that just showed me that you believe you can win.
Oh, for sure, I definitely have the motivation, the confidence, the training and all that. The goal is to get a win, for sure. We’re working to get that. I’m still happy to get on the podium and things are going great.
It’s crazy, what a difference a year can make?
If you talked to me last year at this time, I was about time to retire. (laughs)
Well, we’re glad you didn’t. (laughs)
Yeah, I’m stoked too. Thank you. I put some great people around me, made some good life changes, have a great team behind me and it’s awesome.
How was the RedBud track this year? It looked brutal.
I had some sketchy moments out there. I almost crashed a few times. There were deep spots. There were slick spots. There were square edges with kickers. It was gnarly track, for sure. All in all, I felt like I made my bike better, which I’ve been trying to do. Now we know the direction we need to go more to make it better. With that kind of track, to get the bike working better is a good thing.
Obviously the bike during Supercross was good with you landing on the podium. I haven’t talked to you outdoors. How’s the bike working for you overall?
Yeah, obviously we got it going during SX, but outdoors is a different animal. It’s a great motorcycle. The power is awesome. This new bike has never raced outdoors, so it’s just taking a lot of time to learn what the bike does with changes, as well as my riding style adapting to it because I’ve been working on not revving it so much, shifting it and things like that. (laughs) All in all, we’re getting there and it’s really close. It’s been a solid machine so far.
How important was it to have a good weekend at RedBud with the MXoN coming to RedBud this year? I know you want to be on that team.
The mentality for sure changes. Like I show up now and I know I should be on the podium. That’s where I belong now. Yeah, there was a little chip on my shoulder to prove that I belong on the Motocross des Nations team. We’ll see. I hope they pick me ’cause I think I’d do a great job.
You always do good at RedBud. What do you gel with so well?
You know, it’s just a fun track. There’s some cool jumps. It’s pretty high speed. There’s a few tight spots, but I don’t know. I just have a good time there. There’s a good feel and I enjoy it. The fans are sick. It’s just good.
We’re a little over half way through the season and we know you would like to stay with Yamaha. Is there any news you might want to let out here? (laughs)
No, not really. It’s kind of like when I was doing the fill-in thing during SX, there was no news until there was news. I think the team is really happy with me and I’m happy with the people. We all gel together really good. My goal would be to finish out my career here with Yamaha. I believe it’s a great place and great company. I’m stoked with everyone so we’ll see.
You have to think that they’re happy with you. I’m sure they thought you might do good, but you’ve killed it.
They took a big risk. They didn’t know what I was going to do. In SX, I got my shit together and did good for them. We’re doing good in outdoors right now, but the goal is to be a winner and we’re a little off that right now. We’re working hard and we’re getting there. I look forward to having a good relationship with Yamaha.
How cool is it to see how many fans you have at the races these days hanging out by your pits? Not too long ago there probably weren’t that many fans hanging around your pits.
The autograph lines have been good. I’ve always had great fans that stuck behind me, but days like at RedBud, you really see the fans coming out to support me. I sign all the autographs and try to give away as much stuff as I can. It’s great to have great fans that back me and to see people that are just so happy to meet me is kind of crazy. I really enjoy it and I like it.
We appreciate the time, and it’s awesome seeing you back. Barcia’s back! We’re pumped!
There you go. I’m working on it. BamBam’s coming back!