Justin Barcia has not received much attention in the days prior to the Motocross of Nations, but it is most likely that he is going to win the individual overall classification in the Open category and taking a mixed moto win is certainly not out of the question. Barcia tackles that topic, plus many others, in this exclusive MX Vice interview from day one at the Motocross of Nations.
MX Vice: Obviously you are back at the races and that's a bit foreign considering it's been, what, six or seven weeks? Just talk about what you have been doing since Indiana, the process of getting ready for this race and everything that you have been up to.
Justin Barcia: Yeah, for sure. It's definitely been a little bit of time off from the races. I feel fresh and recovered, that's for sure. I was in California for quite a few weeks doing testing. I was never fully satisfied with my set-up in motocross, so I kept working. Tried to get the bike better and came up with a really good setting that I'm happy with. Just a lot of testing. This year it was a new bike for us, so a lot of work. It's hard when we have so many weeks off after our series and then to come to this race. You have just got to kind of stay on it and keep working and not get lazy.
Obviously, after a long season a break is needed. I am guessing you would have preferred to have this right after Indiana? Momentum was in your corner, so to be able to keep that rolling at a race like this would have been ideal.
Yeah. Like they say, you are only as good as your last race. I was pretty alright at my last race. I think the break for me helped a little bit. I had some nagging injuries. I felt like I needed to make my bike better, so for me it worked out good. For some guys, maybe not. I felt like I needed this little break to get things dialled a little bit better for this race.
These nagging injuries, was that the same thing as what happened in Arlington or were those other things that kind of happened through the season?
No, just little things that happened through the season. Nothing serious like surgery-wise or anything, but just it is a long series and takes a beat in the body. It was good to kind of get some work done, fixed up and ready to go for this race.
Through the last four weeks that you have been testing and training for this race, have you made any significant gains that would have helped you in the outdoors? Have you kind of found something that you wish you'd had all along?
Yeah, that was the goal. We did come up with a new setting that I'm happy with. I just felt like I was searching all year for something that I never found and for me I think I found a better setting I wish I could have tried at some races. It'll show, because I struggled with my bike here a little bit in the motocross season, so with the new setting I feel like it should work good here, so we'll see.
Obviously, it's been a few years since you were at the ‘Nations and a lot's happened in that time. You have been to rock bottom and then back to the top. Just talk about the appreciation you have for it now. I guess everything's just a little bit sweeter?
One hundred percent. It's a good feeling to be here. If you had asked me a year ago if I would have been here, it would have been difficult to say. I was definitely at my worst and not really happy with racing but, man, what a year does. I'm rejuvenated. I feel like my old self again and just motivated to race. I love it. I'm happy. I worked hard and I pulled out of that hole I was in and got on a really good team and just made the best of everything.
As much as that was just a sh*t situation all-around, I'm sure now you are thankful you went through it. Sometimes those things can be good.
Yeah. I was actually talking about that earlier. I think I had to go through those tough times to make me appreciate what I actually have in life in general. So, all in all, it was difficult times. I don't want to really go through it again, but very happy I did because I learned a lot.
Obviously, you are familiar with this race. You have done it three times. You lost all three of those times, which obviously you weren't too happy with, but both times you were really fast, the best rider on the team and you yourself put in a winning performance. I guess from that point of view you have got to be quite confident coming in? You have basically got this ‘Nations deal dialled in.
Yeah. For me, I'm not really stressed out or worried about anything. I know I'm going to go out there and give it my all, no matter what. First or whatever it is. I just feel like I've always been a really good person to be on the team. I feel like this year the team is very motivated. Eli won the championship. Aaron won the championship. I'm always on it, so it's a solid team. I think we have said that in the past. Every year we probably say, "This is a solid team, this is a solid team." You have got to actually believe it. This year I actually believe it. I think with a little luck on our side and smart racing and the speed us three have, it should be really good. There's going to be competition surely, but it's definitely our year.
Obviously the mud, I am guessing that's made you smile a little bit? You have got no problems with a mud race at all.
Yeah, I giggled a little. This place soaks up a lot of water, so it will get pretty good. We'll see. If it rains a lot, I am okay with it, but if it is dry, I'm cool with it too. We'll see.
Have you had a chance to look at any of the changes? Obviously, we have got a new start. The second turn looks really, really tight.
Yeah, it's interesting to say the least. I think the start will be very, very important because it's a tight corner. Checking out the start and stuff like that, I haven't got to go around the track fully yet, but all in all I think they have done a great job sealing it up for the rain. This place is awesome to race at. I always enjoy coming here, so it will be a lot of fun.
Is the team win the only thing on your mind this weekend? Obviously you have got a really good shot at winning the Open class, so to do that and win as a team would obviously be the best-case scenario.
Yeah, it's funny. Every year I've ever raced the Motocross of Nations I've never been like, I want to win my class. I want to win it for the team, so if I win the class so be it but all in all the overall victory is what we want. We need to do it, for sure. There's no ifs, ands or buts. It's time to do it. We need to get it back. It's no better place to do it than here at RedBud. The team is solid. It's a solid, solid team. We got Aaron, the young guy who's really motivated to do it. You see his haircut. It's all red, white and blue. Kid loves it. I remember when I was young and crazy like him, but he brings some fire to the pits. Eli is just a great racer. I think all in all, the team's awesome. Track's good. We want to win.
Obviously you were pissed after losses in Belgium, Germany and all of that. If it happened here though, like you say, all of the pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place. If for some reason you're stood on the second step on Sunday, you're not going to be happy.
No, of course not. The goal is to send the best team from the USA to go win it. We're expected to win. We'll accept second or whatever, third… It doesn't even matter after first what place we get. We just want to win. That is the goal. I can keep saying it over and over, but we have the pieces in place and it's our job now once we put our helmet on to go do it. I believe we have the crew to do that.
Finally, just talk about what you have got planned after this race. Obviously, Anaheim 1 really is not that far away in the grand scheme of things. I guess it's just work, work, work?
Yeah, lots of work and practice… Testing for supercross. I get married in a few weeks, so that will be nice. Just busy. It never stops for us, it seems. We're just full gas with motocross and supercross and then getting picked for Motocross of Nations, so lots of work. I improved last year. I had good speed, only being on the bike for not too long, so another year under my belt on the Yamaha will be good going into supercross.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX