Justin Barcia on becoming an Avatar, signing two-year contract with Troy Lee Designs
Sitting on the stage after scoring his third consecutive Monster Energy Supercross podium and fourth such finish in the past five rounds, Justin Barcia described how he’s become one with his bike, analogous to the Na’vi in James Cameron’s movie, “Avatar”.
Barcia is in his third year as a factory rider for the Spanish manufacturer GasGas. With his recent string of podiums, Barcia announced during the post-race news conference they signed a two-year extension.
“It’s a comfort thing,” Barcia said. “Right around Daytona I got comfortable with my setup, because we were searching a little bit. It was by no means bad, but I was a little off of the podium pace.
“Since Daytona, I found a little setting and me and the bike - I like to call it the Avatar thing, how they connect to the whatever. You’re just one with the bike. So I’m an Avatar now. I’m one with the bike. I just have to keep clicking off these podiums.”
It is fitting that Barcia’s recent surge began in Daytona, a track that bears comparison with the frontstretch course at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Both are hybridizations of traditional Supercross courses with a generous dash of Motocross elements that provides a preview of how the playoff-style SuperMotocross World Championship will play out. The inaugural SMX World Championship kicks off September 9 at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, NC after the conclusion of of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross championship.
Barcia ran well in the five rounds preceding Daytona, but failed to score a top-five finish since Round 2 in San Diego. Between Anaheim 2 and the Arlington Triple Crown, Barcia’s Supercross results were in a narrow band of sixth through eighth until he channeled his inner Na’vi of “Avatar” fame.
Atlanta was run in the heat of the day, something else it will hold in common with the three SuperMotocross races.
"[Atlanta] was a wild Supercross track, so I would assume this is more like a SuperMotocross track,” Barcia said. “The way all of our bikes [as podium finishers] ran, we are all pretty excited about things to come. I was quite happy with the track. It’s high speed, it’s technical, but it did break down enough where we had to pick good lines and hit our marks. I actually liked it better than Daytona.
"[...] It was a hot race, so I’m looking forward to Motocross. We did testing on the off-week. We went from Supercross to the outdoors [setup] and the bike felt comfortable. I’m excited about outdoors and SuperMotocross. We have a few rounds left to get a couple of wins and keep on the podium.”
A New Attitude
In addition to becoming an avatar with his GasGas 450cc bike, Barcia credited a new attitude for his recent streak of Supercross success.
Multiple incidents with other riders through the years earned him the nickname Bam Bam. He’s initiated contact with other riders and been on the receiving end of it. Jason Anderson, one of the riders he and Roczen are battling for fourth in the standings, is currently on probation for a rough riding incident between the two at Tampa earlier this year.
Barcia, 31, is learning to channel his aggression in part because of his age and partly because he recently became a father in December, 2022. That is something the riders also now share.
Anderson’s wife gave birth to a baby girl an hour before he had to travel to Atlanta for last weekend’s race.
The two new fathers battled cleanly to the end of Heat 2. Barcia prevailed and afterward the two riders fist bumped. Congratulations for Anderson’s solid run was implicit in the gesture, but Barcia admitted after the race that he also chastised Anderson for cross-jumping in front of him.
Barcia’s raw edge is not entirely gone.
With the championship now a two- or three-rider affair between Eli Tomac, Cooper Webb and Atlanta winner Chase Sexton, Barcia’s battle shifts to securing fourth in the standings and earning enough points to seed him higher in the SuperMotocross standings. Barcia is one point ahead of Roczen, with whom he shared the podium in Atlanta.
“I’m going to go for it,” Barcia said. “It’s going to be a barnburner for fourth. Me and Kenny have been having some great races, so I think it’s exciting. It’s a shame it’s not for first, second or third, but we’re going to keep it exciting for the fans and give it our all.”