450 Words: Justin Brayton

450 Words Justin Brayton

November 2, 2015 2:30pm

BTOSports.com KTM’s Justin Brayton has this international supercross thing figured out. He’s been racing at the front of these off-season events for years, and with the first-ever Bulgarian Supercross coming to Sofia over the weekend, it was no surprise to see him show up, make some money, and win the race. 

Brayton went 3-1 in the event results but edged Weston Peick’s 1-2 for the overall win thanks to victories in head-to-head bracket racing, which also counted toward the overall. 

Racer X: If this was a regular overall thing, Peick would have had you, but with the bracket races counting, you won it. And you knew that.
Justin Brayton: Yeah, I did know that. So yesterday when I won the bracket, I was like, "Cool, I’m already one ahead." Main event [yesterday], I was all over Peick. I had a few opportunities to run it in there, but we’re all buddies and hanging out, and I didn’t want to do it. I ended up crashing and landing on Tuff Blocks. So tonight I knew if I was going to win it, I would have to win everything. If I didn’t win the bracket racing and I won the main event and he [Peick] finished second, I knew I wasn’t going to win. I kind of knew that was how it was going to end up. Malcolm’s [Stewart] fast, but Peick is obviously very fast, too, so I thought we would go 1-2. So I knew I had to win the bracket racing, and I was doing everything I could to win it. The cool thing is I won everything today, which was neat—fastest in practice, fastest in bracket racing, and the main. Got the job done, and it’s cool. First one ever in Sofia, and I had a great time. Track was a little tight, but this is where I come from—arenacross.

Americans lined the podium in Bulgaria.
Americans lined the podium in Bulgaria. photo: Boris Splatkov

Yeah, tight and easy. There were some riders here who were far off your pace, so they had to make it easier for them.
Yeah, I was talking to someone about it last night. It was almost like NASCAR racing. Everyone is so close; lap traffic matters. Obviously, we don’t do pit stops, but lap traffic—if you could get a guy in the right section and get him between you and a guy, it was such an advantage. I dealt with that last night, being in second for so long. We could kind of yo-yo: Peick would get by one clean; then I would get by one clean. So being in the lead tonight…. Sometimes sitting in second is easier because you could kind of pick your spots, so I kind of wanted to use the lappers as a buffer, if I could.

For the first six or seven laps, he was right behind you. If you had made one small mistake, he would have plowed into the back of you.
Yeah, there were two sections. First, the wall before the whoops, I was trying to figure out what line to take. Pretty much the first five laps I was experimenting with it, and then one lap I actually heard him in the right side of the whoops. I’m like, "Man, I need to try that," so I did. And the start straight, I was going inside of the rut, and that didn’t really shape up until lap ten because I think I was the only one going there. But, yeah, we were pretty much dead even. I’m happy to have come out on top.

You got a nice-looking watch?
Yeah, a cool watch as a trophy. Everyone here has treated us so well. I can’t wait to come back.

Do you have a Filthy Phil [Nicoletti] highlight of the weekend?
Filthy Phil! He was angry all weekend. First, he was angry at Brownie [Mike Brown]. Then he was angry at me because I went over the inside pile of dirt, so he was angry at me for that. Was he mad at Weston for something?

Yeah, Weston yelled at a lapper. Phil thought he took it too far. So you’re going to do Geneva and then try to rebound in the U.S.?
Yeah, for sure. I already feel like everything is going better back home—the new bike, I’m feeling healthy. I feel great on supercross. Even though this race is small, we still lined up and we still raced. 

Brayton just edged out Weston Peick for the overall win.
Brayton just edged out Weston Peick for the overall win. photo: Boris Splatkov

Yeah, it was intense out there between you and Weston!
Yeah, and it was almost more intense than a regular supercross because you had to charge every single corner, get everything you can out of every part of the track. So I’ll stay here this week and [go to] Italy and do Genoa next weekend. I’m trying to coordinate to try to ride this week a couple of days in and around Milan. Then I’ll do Geneva the first weekend of December.

We were talking about this the last few days. You’re kind of winding your career—maybe three or four years left—but you’re going to make yourself a nice living from coming over here. Fans like you, you’re fast, and you’re friendly. This is a whole little career that you’ve carved out that maybe some other guys don’t think about.
Absolutely, and thanks to Eric Peronnard. The first time I went to Bercy, I believe, was 2007, and I was just a nice, humble guy, and he really liked me for some reason. Now I’ve come back several times, and I’ve won Bercy, I’ve won this now, I’ve won Genoa, and I’ve won Geneva.

First time you went to Bercy, no [show up] money, right? Just travel and some purse money?
Yeah, exactly—no money at all. I just thought it was so cool that I was going to race over there. I probably made $2,500 or maybe $3,000, but I was stoked just for the experience. Everyone says it’s not for the money, but at the end of the day this is a job. I’ve got a family to support. I also bring all my own stuff, so I treat it like a real race; I don’t just race a stock bike. So, yeah, definitely excited to [race] more of them.