There is nothing that makes a motocross or supercross series more exciting than a healthy, fit and comfortable Justin Barcia, and it appears that we have that scenario on display for us during the 2020 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. They call the Monster Energy / Yamaha rider BamBam for good reasons, and when he is on the pace of the leaders, he is the most aggressive and exciting rider we currently have in the sport.
To start out the 2020 MX season, Justin has been in the top three in three of the first six motos and he won a moto in the mud of Loretta Lynn’s Ranch at round two. Justin winning a moto in the mud is no surprise, but last weekend at Ironman, he showed us he has the speed and fitness everywhere when he came from behind to challenge Eli Tomac for the moto win all the way to the checkered flag. It was one of those races that left us all rubbing our hands together in anticipation of the upcoming doubleheader at RedBud on September 4th and the 7th.
Today, MotoXAddicts’ was invited to get on a press Zoom call with Justin and we talked to him about his newfound comfort and speed and his incredible battle with Eli. BamBam says we should be ready for a lot more of what we saw last Saturday, and I, for one, cannot wait. Check out what Justin had to say below.
You’ve shown the speed that we all know that you have and you’ve had some great rides this year. You took an easy moto win at Loretta’s and that day didn’t end the way you wanted it to, but we know you’re there. You looked confident and you gave Eli all he could handle in moto two at Ironman. That was a great race. Even though you missed out on the podium, you gotta be happy with how that went and looking forward to making inroads as we move forward.
Yeah, definitely. It was a great race, for sure. I had a good battle with Eli and was chasing him around that whole moto. We came from the back of the pack a little bit, so that was cool. The class is stacked. There are so many guys with five different winners of motos so far in six motos. That’s crazy! This class is always stacked. It’s the top level, obviously. I’m definitely feeling super good and I’m comfortable on the bike. I need to work on a couple of things here and there, but all in all, I really want this championship. I know it’s going to be a huge battle. I had that one DNF at Loretta’s and I lost some points there, but I got pretty lucky with it ’cause I got that first moto win. That helped me big time. All in all, I definitely want to have more battles like that throughout the year and get lots of wins and be on the podium a lot. I’ve been short from the podium these first three [races] but the speed has been there and the confidence is there. I’m ready to go racing again.
Last weekend you looked particularly aggressive. We didn’t talk to you after you won the first moto at Loretta’s. In moto two you crashed and then the bike let go I think, I don’t remember exactly. What happened in that second moto at Loretta’s?
The second moto at Loretta’s, unfortunately, right off the starting gate there was an issue with the bike. It stalled pretty much every lap until it let go so that was frustrating—nothing we could do there. I was showing my aggressive speed this weekend but I don’t think you could show that at the first two rounds really, because it was a complete mudder. I’m sure we all looked a bit squirrelly out there. It was impossible not to look squirrelly at Loretta’s (laughs) with all that mud. That was some of the deepest stuff and we’ve ridden in a long time. This [past] weekend, I had the speed, was feeling great on the bike and the track conditions were awesome. It started out a bit wet, then it got choppy and dry with deep ruts and lots of lines. It was great racing and a good track to race on.
Yeah, you were more aggressive than I think I have seen you in years. Is that the bike, the track, a second wind on the career or what can you attribute that to? You looked amazing!
Thank you, I appreciate that. It was just bike setup. It’s taken us a long time to get to where we’re at and a lot of changes along the way. I’ve been on Yamaha for a long time now, so right now is probably the most comfortable I’ve been on the blue machine. The work that went into it was a lot. (laughs) We have had a lot of help along the way with Ryan Villopoto, and the testing department at Yamaha stepped up big time. They’re usually busy doing development so they’ve helped us out quite a bit. And the guys at Star [Racing / Yamaha] helped us a little bit. So there’s been a lot of help. The employees at Yamaha have been awesome. They’ve definitely made a lot of progress with comfort on the bike.
You’ve been pretty open about the bike not doing necessarily exactly what you want in certain track conditions and the work you’ve done on that. You’ve had some really good races and some races that weren’t up to your expectations so when you look ahead to the races coming up, how do you feel about the tracks and the bike? Do you look ahead and say, ‘This track is going to be really good, and maybe this track will not’?
Previously, yes, I have looked at it [the schedule] and thought, ‘Wow, this track is going to be difficult for our bike.’ But, at the moment, no. As I said, we’ve done so much work and we’ve had a lot of people step in to do more work. All in all, right now, looking at the series, I feel really good about it. Like Eli Said, It’s funny, because I haven’t been this sore [in a while]. After the race, I knew I was going to feel like this, ’cause he and I sent it so hard. It was a sick race. We couldn’t go any faster. We were pushing each other. It doesn’t get much more fun than that. I feel really good on the bike and I’m looking forward to RedBud. I enjoy that track. Memories I have from there are pretty good besides the MXoN (laughs). The track probably won’t be exactly like that, I don’t think. They switched it up on us a lot. I’m looking forward to the tracks. Eli and I are in a kind of similar situation. He had those two DNF’s but we both really want to win this championship and I think we both have crazy speed right now and our fitness is good. I think you guys are going to be in for a treat with these battles we’re going to have. There are a lot more guys that are going to get into the mix as well so we’re just going after points. I’m going to be sending it hard and it’s great to be able to say that. Because in the past I would have been hesitant and said, ‘Oh, I’m going to try my hardest,’ but right now I feel so good on the bike. Things come up, but all in all, I don’t see too many things bothering us too much. I’m just looking forward to some great racing coming up.
There were guys back when I was racing where there was a rivalry and whenever I got around them, things seemed to immediately get a little more intense> It looks like you and Eli have that whether it’s in SX or MX. I know you check your heart rate, does it go up when you get around Eli?
Eli and I race hard no matter what—whether a different rider or each other. We grew up racing each other and we always raced hard no matter what. We’ve had our battles and our ups and downs but I think at this point in our career, we both have the same goal in mind: to win championships. We’re going to give it our all and send it. I wouldn’t say my heart rate is any higher than racing someone else but I’m sure we were both peaked out. We were sending it! That track was pretty gnarly and there was no break. There were a few jumps where you could catch one breath but we were fully sending it. Sunday, I did feel the soreness more than I have in the past so I knew I gave it everything I had, for sure. As I said, I think there are going to be a lot more to come. (laughs) RedBud is a pretty good track with lines and lots of places to pass that could be a more exciting one. Especially back-to-back. That will be pretty wicked.
What is your plan for the doubleheader [Friday and Monday] at RedBud? Are you going to stay there and ride a day in between? Or is it just race Friday and rest until Monday?
I’m in California right now. I’m going to do some riding out here. I’ve been spending all my time out here. I’ll definitely fly out a day early and get my little bike ride in. I’ll race hard and I got two days to recover so I’ll probably do some spinning out on the bicycle again. There’s a fine line between sitting there and letting your body lock up, but you also need to recover. I’ll try to keep the body moving but get the recovery as well. Back-to-back races are going to be tough, but I know we did the work in between the series’, not that we had much time. With all the training we put in, this is what we’re up against right now coming into the races. We’ll just try to be as strong as we can. I think it will be fun. I’ll be staying up there in my motorhome. It’s nice to have that there. I’m looking forward to it. After this [past] weekend, I’m super excited to go racing. At those two Loretta’s, I think Weege [Jason Weigandt] thought I was rubbing my hands together [with excitement], which was true. I like the mud. People don’t really know what I have. I’ve always had it, and this [past] weekend showed I can run it in that [dry] condition. I think it makes the series more exciting for all of us as racers.
Photos by: Octopi