PARIS -- American superstar rider Justin Barcia rode his GEICO Powersports Honda 450cc to an opening day victory Friday night at the 28th running of the Bercy Supercross at Palais Omnisports in downtown Paris. Barcia had the quickest start in the elite International Open class and then methodically ran away from the pack, leading the race from wire-to-wire before an overflow crowd of wildly enthusiastic French fans.
"A got a great holeshot; my timing was awesome on that," Barcia said. "That was huge because this track is really tight and it's tough to pass. Riding the 450 helped because I got out quick. I'd love to ride one back home. The holeshot was key to the whole night. This entire race was just perfect for me."
It was a very rough night in Bercy with several riders wrecking out at various points, including Barcia's GEICO Powersports teammate Blake Wharton, who crashed in one of the earlier motos and was held out of the main event by the attending physician as a precaution. Michael Byrne also was sidelined early with a wrist injury.
Once the main event began, several top riders wiped out, including No. 1 qualifier Gautier Paulin, Grant Langston, Greg Aranda, Max Anstie, and Ken de Dycker.
"Every lap I went by it seemed like someone else was laying on the ground," Barcia said. "You always hate to see that. I hope everyone is okay and ready to race again tomorrow. When there's a lot of guys wrecking out it makes that early lead even better because you're clear of all that stuff."
At the end of 15 laps it was Barcia taking the checkered flag over Frenchman Marvin Musquin and American Kyle Chisholm. The crowd roared its approval for several minutes and the trophy presentation was briefly interrupted by a chain-saw wielding fan who jumped the wall and scaled the start-finish jump. Fans are allowed to bring chainless chain saws into the arena as noisemakers. Soccer horns are also common.
"These fans are mad crazy," Barcia said. "They're so loud and into the race with the vuvuzelas and chain saws, you can actually hear them over the bikes. We need this kind of craziness in America. It definitely pumps you up. The fans are insane. It was sick."
The Bercy Supercross has an individual winner each day with the top rider of all three days crowned King of Bercy on Sunday evening.
"I just want to stay smooth, keep out of trouble, and ride hard," Barcia said. "It would be great to win again and take the King of Bercy title because many big-time guys have done that in the past but I know there are a lot of great riders here and we have a lot left to do. It's not going to be easy, but we're off to a great start."
Saturday's action is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.