Courtesy of RacerX
by Jason Weigandt
It wasn’t a packed house at Anaheim, and most of the riders admitted there was a much different feel to this race than the usual season opener for Monster Energy AMA Supercross. Yet, the opener still delivered its usual thing—pressure—and the two riders who managed those nerves best rolled away from the competition, then settled the race with a great, close duel. In the end, Justin Barcia topped Ken Roczen to win the season opener. Incredibly, Barcia has now won the season opener for the third year in a row. The race was also his debut for his new team, Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull GasGas. GasGas (now owned by KTM) is currently undefeated in supercross competition!
“It felt different, it’s not Anaheim, the pressure at Anaheim is a little bit bigger,” said Barcia. “It felt good to come here and not have that pressure—the three-peat thing was not even a thought. I mean, I had enough pressure on myself because I did that [fake] Anaheim video. Yeah, the vibe was different for sure.”
Barcia had worked hard to control the nerves and hype coming into this race. His debut on a new machine and team and carrying the tag as the opening-round specialist had the potential to sink his night. Every rider is nervous for the opener in general and adding any extra pressure beyond that is more than most can take. Barcia admitted he still felt nervous throughout press day and practice, even though he was riding well. Then he holeshot and won his heat over Roczen and it finally sunk in that it could possibly be a good night. He delivered another holeshot in the main and again held tough under Roczen’s pressure to win it.
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