Barcia Repeats, Cianciarulo Earns First Podium at Anaheim 1

Justin Barcia wins the 2020 450SX Anaheim 1 Main Event after tight battles with Adam Cianciarulo. Photo by Rachel Schuoler/Kickin' the Tires Photo by Rachel Schuoler/Kickin' the Tires

ANAHEIM, CA — Justin Barcia and Adam Cianciarulo trade mistakes, not paint, in 2020 season opening 450SX Main Event.

“Nah, we’re just sketchy, dude. Yeah, really sketchy,” Cianciarulo and Barcia both joked when asked about their mishaps.

Both mistakes by each rider happened while they were leading. Barcia’s mistake came first on Lap 8 when he landed on the tuff blocks halfway through the lap. While he didn’t crash, it cost him enough time to allow Cianciarulo to catch and pass him to claim the lead midway through the race.

“We were just pushing it pretty hard,” Barcia shared from his perspective. “My mistake was huge, not little. I landed on top of the tuff blocks. Luckily didn’t crash and got back on, but when I got behind AC (Cianciarulo), I was like, ‘Alright, be smart, try to reel him in if I can.’

“So then I see AC make a mistake, seen the opportunity and jumped in there. I think we were pushing it pretty hard in that moment.”

For Cianciarulo, he held a comfortable lead through the middle portion of the race. As the laps wound down, the times went up for Cianciarulo but stayed consistent for Barcia. That may have played a role, but Cianciarulo felt he hit the same line as he did on previous laps and may have just become unlucky. He slipped approaching one of the triple jumps, allowing Barcia to pass him back and eventually go on to win Anaheim 1 back to back years.

Adam Cianciarulo rides through the rhythm section at Anaheim 1. Photo by Rachel Schuoler/Kickin' the Tires
Adam Cianciarulo rides through the rhythm section at Anaheim 1. Photo by Rachel Schuoler/Kickin’ the Tires

“It’s Anaheim 1 too, so obviously the electricity is kinda in the air,” Cianciarulo shared in comparison. “We’re just excited out there. I don’t feel like I would have done anything different. I kinda spun out on the triple face, and I’ve hit the same line every lap. Maybe I gave it a just a tiny more gas and it slipped out on me. It wasn’t one of those brain fart deals.”

Last year, Cianciarulo was laps away from his first 250SX West championship when a late race crash prevented that outcome. During the summer months, he proved himself by winning his first national championship in the 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Series. The 23 year old Monster Energy Kawasaki rider said that he “felt like he belonged” in the 450SX class, even though he’s racing with old friends, veterans and legends across the field.

“I fell in love with Supercross watching Anaheim 1 in 1999,” he reflected on Instagram after the race. “Ever since, I’ve been dreaming about what I got to experience. From opening ceremonies, to getting my first 450 podium—the night certainly did not disappoint. I have a lot of things to work on but I’m stocked on this result.”

Fans have been speculating on social media whether or not this could be the Barcia-Cianciarulo championship battle. If there’s one thing that’s true about both riders, it’s definitely not their lack of effort and willingness to put on a good race and great show.

“It’s one of those things where we’re pushing hard,” Cianciarulo stated confidently. “I guess I’ll front flip if I have to do it to win. It’s just one of those deals where you gotta put it on the line.”

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