Going for the  W: Justin Barcia

Going for the W Justin Barcia

June 8, 2013 6:00am
Two years ago, a crazy-haired nothing-to-lose Justin Barcia jumped up to a 450 Class and immediately gave the lead dogs fits. In his first race on the big bike, in fact, he ruffled the feathers of the normally-unruffleable Ryan Dungey, as they battled and nearly tangled late in the second 450 moto. But the real story wasn’t them almost crashing together, it was that Barcia very nearly held Dungey off the whole way.

But there’s always that wild child undercurrent with Barcia, known well for his aggressive riding. The odd thing is, though, he’s not the win-or-crash charger you’d expect from someone with his rep, in fact, Barcia’s been darned consistent throughout most of his pro career. Scratch that first half of the 2011 Nationals away—when he struggled in the 250 Class while dealing with an illness and a broken wrist—and include all of his supercross success, and you can find a whole lot of podiums but very few highlight-reel crashes.

Barcia is becoming a threat in his 450 rookie season.
Simon Cudby photo

Once again, Barcia’s speed and aggression is getting some attention this summer, as he mixed it up with Villopoto and Dungey at the last two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship rounds in Colorado and Tennessee. But it’s the consistency that really counts. He made it through his rookie season of Monster Energy Supercross relatively unscaved. Crashes at rounds three and four ruined his points chase, but he made it to the final checkered flag of the year without a huge injury, and even delivered a second, late-season win in Seattle to show how much he’d learned. Now he’s getting lessons again outdoors, and each week he hangs with the Ryans is a week he can benefit from.

Barcia’s competitive spirit is what drives such performances, so there’s no doubt he’ll grow frustrated if he keeps leading laps but doesn’t win motos. But we’ve seen young riders enter the big class with a bang, only to blow up completely with injuries and assorted troubles. Josh Grant was a title threat through the halfway mark of his rookie 450 National campaign in 2009, and prior to that, Davi Millsaps made waves by hanging with the torrid pace of Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart through some early 2006 motos. Speed and talent wasn’t a problem, but injuries prevented either from staying at that level consistently each year.

As long as Barcia just stays in the game—makes the motos, keeps learning, keeps building, it will all work out, eventually. Justin is going to school in his rookie year, and while he’d love to score highest on every test, the real factor that is attendance counts.