GEICO Honda’s Barcia was the defending champion of the race but his hopes of claiming his second win went out the window when he went down in the first turn in Friday’s main event and busted his spokes. That was it for Justin, his hopes were dashed for the overall since he’d have to take a Friday DNF. Hopes were also dashed for the man who went down with him in the first turn, French hero Gregory Aranda, who also DNF’d after that fall.
Barcia's chances of repeating went out the window after a DNF on Friday.
Photo: Sarah Gutierrez
Smashcut to Saturday and the elimination races. These are a series of three, three-lap races where the bottom four riders were eliminated. The first race featured 12 riders, and the final contained only four. These races were important because they determined your gate pick for the main event and both Aranda and Barcia survived the first series before lining up for the next one.
And that’s where things got nuts.
The pack of eight came flying into the first turn with Aranda on the outside behind Mike Alessi. Aranda’s Kawasaki lost some traction and then quickly gained it right back, which was great for him but not so great for Barcia and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer. Aranda wasn’t lined up straight when he regained that valuable traction. He shot across to the inside of the track and came across both Barcia and Weimer’s front wheels taking both riders down. Unlucky for those two, but lucky for Aranda in that he stayed up and was in the race.
Until The Moment.
Weimer was done, he rode off the track and headed to the pits. But Barcia, he was going to get his pound of flesh right now. He slowly rode his bike down the straight until he was getting lapped by the pack who had now reentered the arena. When Aranda went by him, Barcia took him out to the corner, stopped and told him in no uncertain terms he wasn’t happy by flashing him the “no, you’re not number one” finger.
That was it for the crowd. Boos rained down on the Honda rider. Aranda’s race was ruined and he definitely wanted to talk to Justin about that. The two riders were in the starting line area and going to maybe take things a little further when they were separated and Barcia went back to the pits. Things were already a 10 on the wacky scale at this point but the it went to 11 when Aranda, feeling like he was robbed of a good finish by Barcia, decided to go out onto the track and sit down! His hopes of getting a red flag and a restart went up in flames when he was eventually dragged off.
Eventually Barcia and Aranda came out in front of the crowd and shook hands, declaring that the USA-France relations would remain on good terms. But for a little while there, it was quite a show.
But then again, it’s Bercy!