When past supercross champions Eli Tomac and Wil Hahn jettisoned to the 450 Class this year, they left behind a massive hole in the GEICO Honda program. The team was void of a veteran presence with past race wins stateside to his name (and Zach Osborne’s early season injury outdoors compounded the situation). Youthful exuberance existed, but suddenly one of the most successful teams in the 250 Class had gone from a perineal favorite to a talented, but very inexperienced group.
At just 21 years of age, Justin Bogle was now a veteran presence among a pair of 19-year-olds in Zach Bell and Matt Bisceglia—a new role he has embraced all season.
“I was ready to jump into that role this year,” he told Racer X following Budds Creek. “That’s kind of how it’s looking so far.”
In the two years after winning the AMA Horizon Award, making him the hottest prospect to enter the pro ranks in 2011, injuries have impeded Bogle’s progression, and his participation in 2014 looked in doubt when he suffered five broken vertebra and a broken shoulder blade just months before the Monster Energy Supercross season. Bogle’s back healed in time for the 250SX East Region opener in Dallas, but it took a few races before everything clicked.
“Supercross—coming in how I did—it took me a minute to find my confidence,” he said. “Once I got it things really started to turn around, and I started battling for wins on a regular basis.”
Early in 2014, Rockstar Energy Racing KTM and Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs Honda battled for the 250SX West title, and the East seemed a lock for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki. Bogle battled back, though, and rode his newborn confidence to his first career 250SX title with the East triumph. He is now trying to find the same magic touch in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross.
“I feel like I got all the pieces. I just got to put the puzzle together,” he said.
In a year that has played host to three first-time winners—Jeremy Martin, Cooper Webb, and Jason Anderson—Bogle appears to be next in line. But, as he told us this weekend, he isn’t expecting it to be easy.
“I’m not going, say, sit here and pretend like it’ll be easy [to win] in the slightest. It’s going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do out here. Outdoors are tough. It’s man stuff. You just got to be tough and keep grinding away.”
With newfound success, comes pressure. As the leader of the pack, Bogle must not only challenge for wins; he must be consistent in doing so.
“The guy that’s leading the team needs to be up there battling for wins. That’s still the goal, regardless of the situation.”
Bogle has the pieces; now he needs to figure out how to put them together.