If a season of Supercross goes exactly as a rider plans it up in the preseason program, then they should head straight to the window in Las Vegas after the championships conclude and bet everything they own because that rider is the luckiest person for that season.
Trying to predict what may or may not happen throughout the grueling seventeen weeks of Supercross is next to impossible. Sure, there are favorites to win, but then again, you never know.
For Justin Barcia, this season as a whole is one that is akin to the phoenix rising out of the ashes. While planning to race 2018 as a privateer and then finding his way to a factory Yamaha ride, Barcia started the season strong riding to the podium almost every single week. The consistency of his riding had him in the hunt for the points lead, much to the surprise of many who had written Barcia off as a has been.
A costly injury sidelined Barcia through the middle of the season, but as he says, “don’t count me down and out until you hear the final bell.”
“Don’t call it a comeback, I would just call it a turn around,” said Barcia. “For me this is a turn around in so many facets. To not have a ‘job’ to know having the factory ride, to showing that I was still capable of winning just shows the work and dedication to the sport that I was still putting in every day.”
Coming off injuries and only having a small amount of seat time on the new Yamaha ride, not much was expected from Barcia.
“It has been awhile since I was in the position where I was riding consistently to podiums. To be at the bottom and jobless is a humbling experience. But it also can strengthen you. If you want it, you have to work for it so to be there at the bottom and begin to build my own privateer program helps you rediscover what it really is about racing that burns that fire within you. To be jobless and work your way to the factory ride and battle through injuries makes for an awesome story. Racing is always a roller coaster but being able to prove to myself that I can still do this at a high level is one of the best feelings.”
Growing up and going through adversity can change people. For Barcia, that change is his mental approach to racing. For years, Barcia would push his way to the front of the rider pack by any means possible and suffering whatever consequence comes his way. Now you find Barcia approach a race more calculated with a hint of the ‘Bam-Bam’ still there.
“I have grown up a little bit. In many ways I have stabilized my personal life. When you have a stable personal life that you can lean on for comfort they become an oasis for escape that all of the stresses with work or riding for me can disappear allowing you to refocus. There was a time that I didn’t enjoy this other part of life. I was solely focused on racing. While my life still revolves around dirt bikes and racing, there is a balance there. When it becomes unbalanced there are consequences. For me, I almost quit racing. I wasn’t sure I still wanted to do this. After getting refocused and learning to lean on the stable parts in my life, I proved to myself that I could race at a high level and it has made all the difference for me now.”
Being a factory rider is the ultimate place for a rider to be. However, that is the minority of riders, most that make up the list of riders top to bottom are privateers. For Barcia, he was both this season.
“If I had to be a privateer again I would, but I work hard to not be. I have shown that I am a factory rider, but I would never give up the experience I had to go through and do it on your own. It makes you appreciate the small things that come with racing. It rekindles the fire inside you.”