The first big signings for the 2019 race season have been announced, as Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing have inked both Justin Barcia and Aaron Plessinger to multi-year contracts. Barcia’s role with the team has been expected all year, ever since his initial fill-in ride with the team at the start of the Supercross season resulted in podium finishes through the rest of the season. This is a massive turnaround for Barcia, who twelve months ago was passed over by multiple factory race teams. Plessinger, meanwhile, is coming off of a career-defining year thanks to the two titles that he earned in the 250 class (250 West Coast Supercross and 250 National motocross) and this signing will transition him to the 450 class full-time in 2019.
With this news, it’s also clear that Cooper Webb and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing will part ways after the final round of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Webb raced with the team for two years, but the time was marred by injuries and other issues.
The press release from Yamaha, including quotes from key team members, is posted in full below…
Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. (YMUS) is pleased to announce that the Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing Team has signed new contracts with Justin Barcia and Aaron Plessinger to complete its two-rider 450 class roster for the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship and AMA Pro Motocross Championship series in 2019 and beyond.
Barcia, who began the 2018 season as a fill-in rider, proved his merit early on as a contender in the supercross series and quickly became a full-time team member for the remainder of the race year. With nine podium finishes under his belt, Barcia will continue to fight for third overall in the 450MX Championship this Saturday at the season finale in Crawfordsville, Indiana. With ten years of professional racing experience, including back-to-back 250SX East Championships in '11 and '12, Barcia will spearhead the team's 450 efforts as a seasoned veteran in the class.
Recently crowned 250MX and 250SX West Champion, Aaron Plessinger, is set to make his 450-class debut in Monster Energy AMA Supercross and AMA Pro Motocross with the Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing Team in the 2019 season. The 22-year-old Ohio native has displayed his versatile skill set in all types of conditions and will prove to be an asset to the team.
Keith McCarty – Motorsports Racing Division Manager
"We're very happy and proud to sign Justin and Aaron to our Factory Team to race our YZ450F. We saw great potential in Justin when we extended his agreement through the 2018 motocross season and we're pleased with his consistent finishes this summer. Aaron has been with Yamaha for over a decade and moved up through the ranks with the bLU cRU family. He has been supported by Rock River Yamaha in his amateur career and most recently with Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing – they have helped to prepare him well, along with his undeniable talent, which is obvious from his dual championship-winning season in Supercross and motocross. We look forward to great things in the future from both riders in 2019 and beyond."
Justin Barcia, YZ450F #51
"I'm really excited to extend my contract with the team. It's an honor and a pleasure working with everyone at Yamaha. It started out as just a fill-in ride and it turned into something a lot more. I can't ask for a better team, it's just been awesome. We've really turned my career around, I was in a really tough place, struggling a lot and I wasn't sure what I was going to do next and Yamaha gave me the opportunity to ride a really good motorcycle and I went out there and gave it my all and put in some really good results. It's just been a pleasure working with all the guys on the team and riding the new Yamaha 450. I'm really excited for the future and I hope to finish out my career at Yamaha, that's definitely my goal."
Aaron Plessinger, YZ450F #23
"Signing with Yamaha for the 450 Class is amazing! I’ve been with Yamaha since 2008 and we have had an awesome relationship ever since. I feel like it’s going to go really well for me next year, just being on a great team with good people around. I can’t wait to start testing and get my bike dialed in!"