Interview: Lucy Barker talks racing WMX as a rookie

Images: Nigel McKinstry | Interview: Andy McKinstry

Recently just turned 17, Lucy Barker is contesting her rookie season in the WMX series after racing a wildcard at the event in Arnhem last year on her 125cc. Now on a 250cc, Barker is learning from the very best and the level is incredibly high. Barker is also enjoying travelling to different countries and seeing new cultures.

We caught up with Barker after Maggiora to discuss her season so far and more. You can read, listen or watch below…

GateDrop: WMX here in Maggiora, hard to even talk about that race, what was it like to experience racing that? Madness!

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Barker: Probably my worst race ever to be honest, yesterday I was fourth into the first corner and then I come back from last to 11th in two laps, so amazing riding. I felt really good with the track, I was enjoying it even though it was really wet and then we got red flags, that was cancelled and then this morning we just had the one race and yeah I was in about 11th I think, just plugging away like trying to catch up with people in front of me and yeah I came off the track straight into a rain rut and that was pretty much it for my race. So we’ve come here, got nothing out of it but could have gone either way.

GateDrop: I don’t think you’re the only one, how did you find just racing those conditions, have you ever raced anything like that before?

Barker: I’ve definitely raced stuff like in this in England like on the 85.

GateDrop: But with the hills and stuff, they’re so steep…

Barker:  No, never ridden like as intense as an extreme, at the end of the day it’s a learning curve, you never know, you might really need to do well for the championship one year on a track like this, you can’t complain, you’ve just got to get on with it and it’s the same for everyone so no excuses.

GateDrop: Obviously last year you got an eye-opener in the WMX by racing Arnhem I think on the 125, what was that like just to make your WMX debut there?

Barker: Yeah the debut was great, I had a 13th which was amazing, we didn’t realise how good at the time until we came up this year but yeah the class is unbelievably fast. I myself am still getting used to 250, it’s definitely a big big step up from anything in England but I’m enjoying the learning and gaining experience.

GateDrop: just on this year, how do you think it’s all going in your first full season, your rookie season?

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Barker: Not as well as I would have hoped, expected, but that’s racing, the competition level is really high and we can all see my improvements. Even if I’m not finishing in them results I’ve been running up there so I’m happy with how things are going and I want to keep building it up to get to the top eventually.

Image: Nigel McKinstry

GateDrop: What’s it like just being part of this paddock, I mean you’re in the same paddock as the best riders in the world and WMX I feel like is rising, I think Lotte is definitely helping and Guillen is helping to grow the sport and that’s good, hopefully you can be the next one…

Barker: Yeah, yeah it’s definitely, I think it’s the fastest it’s ever been for the girls, it brings all the riders on so it’s amazing, it’s so good to be here with like the best riders in the world and watch them and learn. It’s every weekend we learn from it so that’s what it’s all about.

GateDrop: How are you finding the tracks, obviously it’s so different – one week you’re racing deep sand the next week it’s hard pack then mud the next week, it’s so different probably something you haven’t really experienced in England?

Barker: Yeah the tracks in England are nothing compared to this, if you want to practice properly for this you need to be in Europe, I’m not practicing over here yet I’m still based in the UK but we’ll see what we can do in the future and the tracks are like English tracks on steroids, they’re so much deeper, so much rougher, wetter, drier, it’s just everything you can imagine thrown into a full season of racing.

Image: Nigel McKinstry

GateDrop: I mean you can’t really prepare for WMX racing in England, what did you do when you were 14 or 15 for racing?

Barker: I did the British with the boys in the 125’s, I’ve always raced the boys in my whole life in England. I’ve never actually properly raced with the girls so it was really good on the 125 to come over and do the Europeans and do that one race in Arnhem. It helped me get the hang of it and see what all these girls are about.

GateDrop: I did see your names in the European results last year, what was it like racing those? Most of them were probably in the middle of nowhere but good for the experience…

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Barker: Yeah, it was a brilliant experience. We are doing them again this year actually. I am leading the championship this year, we didn’t expect to win last year but we did so I worked hard in that and especially in that championship. Even in Arnhem my hard work paid off so hopefully my hard work can pay off this year and we can end the season on a high for the next few rounds.

GateDrop: You are working closely with Brian Jorgensen, a former GP rider, before your time but what’s it like having him in your corner?

Barker: Brian, definitely, I can’t explain how much he helps us. He is so switched on and having him here at the races is such a good help for me and James. I really enjoy working with him in the winter with fitness, on the track and off the track. It is just that perfect balance, you can have a joke with him and then we can have the serious side so it is really nice.

Image: Nigel McKinstry

GateDrop: I was going to mention your Brother, he races with you sometimes during the same weekends if there’s EMX250, what is it like having him with you as well?

Barker: Unfortunately, he’s got quite a bad injury at the moment but he is recovering now but it is really nice to have him here for the full family. It’s quite chaotic but we wouldn’t change it for the world.

GateDrop: Goals for the future, what’s the big dream? To stand on the top step of the podium?

Barker: To be the best in the world, I know it is going to take a lot but we’re going to keep working and I’ve just turned seventeen last week so just keep gaining experience and hopefully move up through the rankings until we get to the top.

GateDrop: What is it like being a privateer, it must be difficult for the parents but hopefully you can get a team in the next year or two, is that the goal?

Barker: That would be nice but I also do know that teams are not the be all and end all sometimes. My setup is incredible, I’ve got my Mum literally does everything for me, everything you can imagine. Then my Dad on the bike, spot on. Our setup is really nice, it’s a bit muddy sometimes and the travelling can get pretty boring but we do our best and I wouldn’t rather do it with anyone else.