Southwick, Mass. – It was a banner day for the GEICO Powersports Honda team at Southwick’s MX338. The penultimate round of the AMA Pro Motocross Championships ran on a drizzly day at the sandy track, and when Southwick gets wet, it gets tricky. Despite the tricky conditions, though, rookie sensation Justin Barcia managed to grab his first-ever AMA National victory.
In the first 250cc moto, Barcia started near the tail end of the top 10 and quickly worked forward until he was sitting second to points leader Ryan Dungey. At about the halfway point, Barcia makes the pass and moves to the lead, where he stayed until the finish, scoring his first-ever moto victory.
However, in moto two, Barcia hit the gate when the rider next to him (Broc Tickle) hit his gate hard enough to hang up Barcia’s gate, too. Coming from the back, in one of the best rides of the day, Barcia again worked his way to the front, passing Dungey again with two laps to go, but this time for third place.
“In the second moto, I really had to work for it,” Barcia said. “I got stuck in the gate for a second, and it was tough. Tickle hit the gate really hard, and my gate wouldn’t drop, so I was really bummed. I thought they’d red-flag the race, but they didn’t. I caught up to Dungey and followed him for almost the whole race, then with two laps to go, I passed him, so it was a good race.”
His 1-3 score was good enough for first overall.
“I guess it’s meant to be for it to take so long, but I didn’t want it to take this long,” Barcia said of his rookie season. “I wanted it to happen at Unadilla because it was my home race – I’m from New York – but that was one of my bad races. It was fun being up here, and I had a lot of fans here, and it’s a great feeling. I’m so ecstatic right now... I just knew today would be the day, and it was. I’ve been working really hard lately and riding my bicycle a lot, and it paid off.”
“Southwick’s normally one of my best tracks,” Metcalfe said. “I like coming here every year, and in 2006, it was the first time I podiumed – I got second here and was pretty close to a win. Last year, I went 2-3 for third overall, and this year third overall again.”
He came away with a typical fourth-place finish in the first moto – he’s had a lot of fourths this year – but in moto two, he challenged for the lead for much of the race before finishing a solid second.
“At first, I just wanted to duck [the leader’s] roost a little bit because I knew it was a long moto and vision would be a problem,” Metcalfe said. “I’ve had that here in the past, back in ’06, so I didn’t want to be too close to him. Then I looked back a couple times and saw that we were pulling away, and I knew there was a gap to third, so I was pretty content just to go along there and break away from the field, and we had a good pace going. I felt much better than the first moto, and at about 20 minutes, I had a little problem and finished second.”
Metcalfe is hoping he can follow his teammate’s lead and get a win shortly.
“I’ve always said I needed better starts, but this year I’ve had great starts most of the time, so they’re better,” Metcalfe said. “Winning that first race is probably a mental thing, and there are a lot of emotions there, too. I want it to happen, and I’m confident that it will happen. It sucks waiting, but I’m working on it.”
Blake Wharton didn’t want his teammates to have all of the fun, though. He got the holeshot in the first moto – duplicating the same feat from Southwick 2008 – and despite nearly getting run off the track by Dungey in the first turn, he held the lead for the first few laps. He eventually finished a strong third.
“I got the holeshot, and that was really good, and then I went around the first turn, and then Dungey tried to stuff me or whatever,” Wharton said. “But I led a couple laps. I really wasn’t feeling the track, though. I got third the first moto, but it wasn’t the best I could’ve done. I wanted to be out front.”
The first moto saw the three GEICO Powersports Honda machines finish first, third and fourth.
In the second moto, though, a first-turn crash collected Wharton.
“I went down in the first turn, and I kept the bike running, but it still took me too long to get going,” Wharton said. “But I was getting up close to the front [caught up to 15th by the halfway point] and then my goggles went bad, and we had talked about pulling off for new goggles so that I could catch up some more with new goggles, so I pulled off, but that took way longer than I thought it would to switch goggles. It cost me a lot. I still caught up to 15th again, though, so that wasn’t too bad considering everything.”
Even with 15th in the second moto, Wharton finished a solid seventh overall.
“I haven’t been able to ride much because I’m still banged up [from the crash at Unadilla],” Wharton said, “but this week’s going to be good. I’ll be riding more this week, and I just want to go to the last round and end the season on a high note.”
In the WMA (Women’s) class, former champion Jessica Patterson took to the line for the GEICO Powersports Honda team for the second time – the first coming at the X Games. She tested the week before with the team to get her settings straightened out.
“This past week, I came up early and did some suspension testing with Ziggy [Rick , and then I just got on the bike and went for it,” Patterson said. “It worked out pretty good.”
It went very good, as she grabbed both holeshots and led every lap on the day on her way to a 1-1 score and first overall.
“My starts were amazing,” Patterson said. “I couldn’t believe I got holeshots. That’s crazy for me. But as soon as I got those starts, I knew that I could win today, so I was really pumped, and that’s all I’ve needed all year. I finally got it, and I showed I could win with good starts like that.”
It was a very dominant day for Patterson, and she credits the team.
“It’s not just the bike, it’s having the whole team and all the support and everyone behind you,” Patterson said. “It gives you a lot of confidence, and definitely knowing that you have a really good bike helps, too.”
From here, the GEICO Powersports Honda team heads to Delmont, Pennsylvania, for the final round of the series at Steel City Raceway.
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.
Southwick 250cc Overall:
1. Justin Barcia GEICO Powersports Honda
2. Tyla Rattray Kaw
3. Brett Metcalfe GEICO Powersports Honda
4. Ryan Dungey Suz
5. Taylor Futrell Hon
6. Tommy Searle KTM
7. Blake Wharton GEICO Powersports Honda
8. Broc Tickle Yam
9. Jake Weimer Kaw
10. Blake Baggett Kaw
Southwick WMA Overall:
1. Jessica Patterson GEICO Powersports Honda
2. Ashley Fiolek Hon
3. Tarah Geiger Yam
4. Sherri Cruse Suz
5. Heidi Cooke Kaw
6. Sara Price Kaw
7. Julie Anne Parizek Kaw
8. Alyssa Fitch Hon
9. Elizabeth Bash Kaw
10. Jacqueline Strong Hon