San Bernardino, Cal. – The GEICO Powersports Honda team rolled into Glen Helen for the opening round of the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships last Saturday with high hopes, and they delivered, with all four of the team’s 250cc riders finishing in the top 10 on the day.
One of the highlights of the day for the team was the phenomenal rookie performance of Justin Barcia in his first professional race. Groomed through his latter amateur years by the Factory Connection Racing team before graduating to FC’s GEICO Powersports Honda team, everyone had high hopes for Barcia, but few could’ve expected what he actually did.
In the first moto – after the first attempt at the moto was red-flagged and the race was restarted – Barcia started right behind his teammate Trey Canard, but quickly passed his more experienced teammate and took over the lead. Barcia led the first half of the 14-lap race before succumbing to arm-pump and falling back to an eventual ninth-place finish. In moto two, after starting about third, Barcia again busted out to an early lead, but this time he pulled out nearly 10 seconds on second place. Barcia ended up leading 10 of the 13 laps in the moto before being passed by 2009 Lites West Supercross champ Ryan Dungey and 2008 MX2 World Champion Tyla Rattray. Barcia finished third despite again running into issues with arm-pump.
“Coming in, I definitely wanted to be in the top 10, and I was happy with my finishes,” Barcia said. “In the first moto, I wasn’t very happy, honestly, because I wanted to be up front further, but I got some pretty bad arm-pump. But the second moto, I was really happy with my finish because I got third, and that was awesome for me. I was pumped. Coming in, I felt like I had the speed, but I didn’t know how aggressive those guys would be and everything. I was comfortable where I was, and I didn’t feel like I was riding over my head or anything, so it was a good start.”
His 9-3 finishes were good for sixth overall, just behind his aforementioned teammate, Trey Canard.
Canard got the holeshot in the first moto before it was red-flagged, then got the holeshot a second time on the restart and ran second to Barcia for quite a few laps but couldn’t pass his teammate. Meanwhile, he had Dungey and Christophe Pourcel on his tail, and the two 2009 SX champs passed Canard on the sixth lap, then passed Barcia barely more than a lap later. Canard followed them by his teammate and eventually finished third in the moto.
“I was pretty bummed [about the restart] because Ryan [Dungey] and I had a pretty good distance, I think, already built up, so that’s always a bummer, and when you have a good start like that, you want to take advantage of it, but to do it again was awesome,” Canard said of moto one. “Whenever someone’s down like that, you hate to see them hurt, and you don’t want to see anybody else injured. They did the right thing in red-flagging it, and to get the holeshot again was good for my confidence in my starts, so I can’t complain.”
In the second moto, Canard started just inside the top five and slid little by little to eighth, which he was not happy with.
“That’s the roughest motocross track I’ve ever ridden, so that’s probably going to be the toughest race of the year,” Canard said. “I didn’t feel like myself really all day, and in the first practice, I was like 12th, and I know I’m better than that, and I know I’m better than the way that I rode, so if that’s a bad day for me, then it looks like we’re on the right track.”
Canard finished up with fifth overall.
Brett Metcalfe, in his first race back since injuring himself in Atlanta, still isn’t completely healed up, but despite a very sore wrist that kept him from doing even one full-length moto prior to the opener at Glen Helen, he had a strong showing.
In moto one, Metcalfe started outside the top 10 and began moving forward, eventually finishing a strong seventh after running as high as sixth. In moto two, Metcalfe started fifth and then fought it out around that position for the rest of the race, eventually finishing a strong sixth.
“The only thing I was expecting was to finish two motos,” Metcalfe said. “I knew coming in that my pace was okay, but I didn’t know how I was going to shape up for two 30-minute motos, and I didn’t know how I was really going to finish the motos as far as results are concerned. My main goal was just to get out there and race two motos and finish.”
All things considered, Metcalfe was happy with his performance.
“I was really happy after the end of the day when I could reflect on my finish, and I started looking at what I need to improve on and where I feel like I can be right now,” Metcalfe said. “I just need more bike time more than anything. That was definitely a positive day and I got some good points for the championship. I’ve got to continue to work forward now and get better. I think Glen Helen was the roughest I’ve seen it for a long time – maybe ever – so I thought it was awesome. The track was really good and I wish I was in a better position physically to race there. I thought the track was good. But knowing that I just probably raced the toughest track, it should make the next few a little easier for me, so we’ll see what happens. I actually prefer to ride those rough tracks because it’s a slower racetrack, and when the speeds are higher, that’s when things get more difficult for me. I liked it being rough.”
Metcalfe was seventh overall.
And finally, Blake Wharton, also in his first Glen Helen National (like his teammate Barcia) rode strong all day, but had a couple of mistakes cost him. In moto one, Wharton started out seventh and ran sixth for much of the race before falling. Still, he recovered for a strong eighth. In moto two, he started 11th, fell back to 12th, then moved up to ninth before he stalled his bike. He still recovered for a strong 10th by moto’s end, though.
“Glen Helen was definitely new for me as far as the national is concerned,” Wharton said. “It was good for me, and I thought the track was good. I felt I did pretty good, but I made some mistakes – I fell one moto and stalled it one moto – and my starts weren’t very good. But overall, for the first round, it wasn’t too bad. I want to improve at the next round and stay consistent. I felt like my speed was good, though. The first moto, I was in sixth before I fell, and the second moto, I stalled, but I felt my speed was up there with the fast guys, I just need to change some things, get some holeshots, bring it all together, and run up front.”
Wharton finished up 10th overall.
In the 450cc class, Dan Reardon took to the track for the GEICO Powersports Honda team. He started sixth in the first moto, but a fall on lap two put him back in 16th. Still, he worked his way forward to an eventual 10th-place finish. However, he dropped out of moto two with a bent front-brake caliper carrier, ending the day with 17th overall.
From here, the GEICO Powersports Honda team heads north to Prairie City SVRA for the Hangtown Motocross Classic, round two of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship.
Team Sponsors: GEICO Powersports, Honda, Planet Fitness, Unbound Energy, AM/PM, Factory Connection, Fox, Shoei, Gaerne, DVS, Amsoil Lubricants, Cycra Plastics, Dunlop Tires, EK Chains, Filtron Air Filters, Hinson Clutches, Leatt Brace, One Industries, Pro Circuit, Renthal, Shock Doctor, Showa, TAG Sprockets, Vortex Ignitions, VP Fuels, and Works Connection.
Glen Helen 250cc Overall:
1. Ryan Dungey Suz
2. Christophe Pourcel Kaw
3. Tyla Rattray Kaw
4. Tommy Searle KTM
5. Trey Canard GEICO Powersports Honda
6. Justin Barcia GEICO Powersports Honda
7. Brett Metcalfe GEICO Powersports Honda
8. Jake Weimer Kaw
9. Austin Stroupe Kaw
10. Blake Wharton GEICO Powersports Honda
Glen Helen 450cc Overall:
1. Ryan Villopoto Kaw
2. Mike Alessi Suz
3. Josh Grant Yam
4. Chad Reed Suz
5. Davi Millsaps Hon
6. Tommy Hahn Kaw
7. Mike Brown KTM
8. Cody Cooper Yam
9. Weston Peick Hon
10. Andrew Short Hon
17. Dan Reardon GEICO Powersports Honda