SOUTHWICK, Mass. – As riders Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac resume their quest for motocross championship glory at Saturday’s Moto-X 338 National, the GEICO Honda team will unveil its newest rookie to rise from the amateur ranks, Zach Bell.
A total of 21 days will have passed since the team’s riders last raced, but Barcia said he doesn’t mind the layoff, especially if Southwick is the race at the end of the break.
“I don’t feel like it messes up momentum or anything like that,” Barcia said. “It’s always good to have some time to regroup so you come back feeling fresh and ready to race.
“Southwick is easily my favorite track. I love racing in the sand and I know I’ll have fun out there. I’m confident when I have fun on the track and I know it gives me a great chance to win.”
Barcia is second in the standings and trails 250cc class leader Blake Baggett by just 11 points heading into the season’s final four races. Tomac is in third, 21 points behind Barcia.
To prepare for his return from the break, Tomac said he’s spent time in the New Mexico desert getting ready for the Southwick sand.
“There’s a sandy dunes track I like to ride before this race,” Tomac said. “We did it last year, and it was a good place to test our suspension and get a feel for riding in the sand. It can be tough to ride in the sand, so you have to change your body position at times. It’s good we’ve got a place we can go like that.”
Tomac said that despite enjoying the routine of racing every weekend, it’s nice to be able to get significant time off during the season in order to let his body recover.
“Outdoor season can beat you up pretty good,” Tomac said. “It’s such a physical sport, so it’s nice to get time off to spend time with the family and do some other things.”
Bell is coming of a successful amateur finale at the Loretta Lynns with finishes of first and third, which led to him being named the Horizon Award recipient. Bell said he is bursting at the seams to make his pro debut.
“I’m about as excited as you can get,” Bell said. “Ryan Dungey rode some motos with me this week and he said I’m riding really good. I’m just ready to go out there and have fun.
“I’ve been training all my life to get to this point, and I couldn’t thank everybody on the GEICO Honda team for sticking behind me. I really want to get a Top 5 finish if I can.”
Team member Justin Bogle is familiar with the butterflies in Bell’s stomach because it’s been exactly one year since Bogle made his pro debut at this race.
“It’s good to come in as a rookie to these last four races and go without a lot of pressure,” Bogle said. “I’m stoked for these last races. I’ve now ridden on all the tracks we have left and I’m hoping it translates to better results.
“I went back to Oklahoma to train for a while, and it’s been 115 degrees here all the time so it keeps you in shape. I went up to New Hampshire to do some testing for the Factory Connection guys. I’ve been riding sand traps and working on bike setups. I feel like I’m a lot better off going into these last four rounds than I was the previous couple of races.”
Rider Wil Hahn is also excited for the last four races of the season, as he’s fighting for a spot in the top five in the championship standings.
“The long breaks always feel a little odd,” Hahn said. “I like the routine doing my week of homework, going to the race then coming back and starting it all over again. One weekend off you can enjoy, but the next weekend, I am ready to go back racing.”
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