Barcia Commands Anaheim Supercross Opener

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Justin Barcia en route to victory Saturday night at Angel Stadium. (Mark Munoz photo)
Justin Barcia en route to victory Saturday night at Angel Stadium. (Mark Munoz photo)

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Justin Barcia took top honors as the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, season kicked off Saturday night before 45,050 inside Angel Stadium.

Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Barcia took the first win in the 17-race series, just as he did in 2019, but 450SX class rookie Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo made him earn it in a battle that had both riders pushing their limits for the 20 minutes plus one lap race.

In the 250SX Class, Monster Energy / Star Yamaha Racing’s Justin Cooper earned his first win to start his Western Regional 250SX campaign.

Honda rider Vince Friese grabbed the holeshot when the gate dropped for the 450 main event, but Barcia wasted no time and within five corners had established himself as the race leader ahead of Friese, his Honda teammate Justin Hill, Team Honda HRC’s Justin Brayton, JGRMX / Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Fredrik Noren, Cianciarulo and defending champion Cooper Webb of the Red Bull KTM team.

Cianciarulo was on the move instantly, reaching fourth place with an aggressive move through the first set of whoops and setting his sights on the front.

In less than four minutes of racing Cianciarulo had put his Kawasaki into second place and set his sights on Barcia. Nearing the halfway point, Barcia made a mistake that took him briefly off the track. Cianciarulo slipped past, quickly pulled nearly a two second lead, and looked destined to win.

Webb, riding with a flu, put his KTM into third place just past the halfway point. Then, with under six minutes of racing left on the clock, Cianciarulo got bit by the track trying to seat bounce out of a corner.

He lost traction and drive and came up short and sideways on a landing. He managed to keep the bike off the ground, but Barcia capitalized and rocketed back into the lead where he would keep his Yamaha until the checkered flag waved.

“I busted my butt in the off-season and worked so hard,” Barcia said. “That was just all strength through that whole race. I’ve definitely matured a lot, developed as a rider a lot, that was an incredible race. I didn’t want to win this race! [laughs] My goal was to get out of here safe, healthy, and I just want to be on the podium a lot this year and be in the fight for the championship because I haven’t been able to do that.”

Cianciarulo commented on the difference in race duration with the move up to the 450SX class.

“The races are a little bit longer, and even though 250 and 450, it’s 15 and 20 minutes, that extra six or seven laps we do feels like a lifetime,” Cianciarulo said. “So [I was] just trying to adapt to the track out there, and yeah, Justin made a mistake and went off, [then] squared up under me and I thought we were both going to die off the next rhythm sections. Man, it was so much fun racing him. Then I spun out [jumping] out of the triple there; and thank God [that] God blessed me with some long legs, I was able to save that. [But I] knocked the wind out of myself for a good 20-30 seconds.”

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