WHAT DID YOU MAKE OF THE SURPLUS OF
UNSIGNED RIDERS BEFORE SUPERCROSS? I was in that
position in 2011 after coming off the Red Bull KTM factory
team. The phone was not ringing. It put a hardship on myself
as racer and, really, as an individual. I had just gotten married and I didn’t even have a job. I was trying to find a team
that was willing to take me, and I felt like I wasn’t worthy of a
ride. I bought my own Suzuki, went to Monster Energy Cup in
2011 and qualified second in practice behind Ryan Villopoto.
My results that night weren’t great, but I showed that I could
be up front. Out of the three motos, I rode well in the first
and third moto. I was good enough that MotoConcepts picked
me up, and that has been my home ever since.
YOU RACED A KAWASAKI IN CANADA THIS
PAST SUMMER AFTER RACING ON A HONDA IN
SUPERCROSS. WAS THE SWITCH DIFFICULT? It was
good. The team, Monster Energy Alpinestars Kawasaki, was
super supportive. They were behind me the whole season.
Even when I got hurt, I came back to race because of the
support they had given me. The only way I felt I could give
back to them was by trying to race. I raced the last round
really banged up, but I got fourth at the race and fifth on the
ARE YOU STILL SET ON RETIRING IN A FEW YEARS?
Yes. 2018 is my last year. I have two years left. Things could
change. If I’m still competitive, having fun and injury-free, I
might race until I’m 31 or 32. As of right now, my heart is
set on doing two more solid years. I want to be consistent
and try to run up front. I want to keep having fun with this
sport. It is what I have done since I was 3 years old. I definitely know that when it’s done, dusted and over with, I’m
going to miss the grind of training, traveling to the races and
being a part of the motocross community. It will be tough, but
it has to happen. I’ll close that chapter of my life and start a
new chapter with family and kids. Thirty years old is the mark.
WHAT WAS THE REASON FOR JGRMX SWITCHING
TO SUZUKI? Our goal is to be with someone who wants to
help. That’s what this switch was all about. We wanted to be
in a good spot. We were with Yamaha for nine years, and we
needed something new. We wanted a partner that we felt we
could have a long-term relationship with. Yamaha was bringing back their factory team; it seemed like things were changing. We only had a one-year agreement, and we wanted to do
something for us. Now we’re riding a bike that just won the
championship. The guys are excited. You never know until you
get to a race, but the riders think the bike handles awesome
and turns good. We’re fired up.
HOW LONG IS YOUR CONTRACT WITH SUZUKI FOR?
Right now it’s a one-year deal, because there wasn’t budget
there for both sides to do it the way we feel it should be
done. We did a deal together to build for the future. We’ve
already talked about five- and ten-year plans. Hopefully they’re
thinking the way that we are. You never know. I figured
Yamaha was, too, but that’s the way our sport is. Things
change, people move and there’s different management. So
far, Suzuki is where we feel that we fit the best.
WHAT DID JUSTIN BARCIA THINK OF THE SWITCH?
Justin was one of the people who was pushing me to continue pursuing it. He wanted to do something different for himself. It didn’t obviously go the way he expected it. We thought
he would go out and win. We hired him to win, and I know
he can win. I don’t know if he just didn’t get along with that
[Yamaha] bike or what. Our sport is so mental. There are a
lot of riders that talk a lot of stuff, and it gets in their heads,
even if they don’t believe it at first. We’re paying Justin a
pretty good chunk of money, and he wasn’t really that happy,
so we figured let’s try to get him happy so we can see some
By John Basher
By John Basher