2014 AMA SuperCross, an FIM World Championship
Torrance, CA: Qualcomm Stadium was filled Saturday night for round six of the Supercross series in San Diego, CA and Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Barcia finished sixth at the first-ever Military Appreciation Night to accompany a Supercross race.
Barcia started the day strong, taking second in his heat race and transferring directly into the main event. At the end of the first lap of the main event, Barcia was in eighth, but soon moved into fifth. At the halfway point, however, he crashed and gave up a position, which put him in sixth at the finish.
“I felt like I should have been on the podium tonight,” stated Barcia. “I didn’t get a great start but was moving forward through the pack when I lost the front end in a corner and went down. After that I just started riding tight. We made some adjustments between races and the bike was even better in the main event than in the heat race.”
Team manager Dan Betley says, “We continue to keep learning about the bike and making improvements to the equipment. The competition is so close and we are right there—just need to keep working hard and moving forward.”
With his brother Greg, who is a captain in the U.S. Air Force, cheering him on, Muscle Milk-backed GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac was especially pleased with his performance at Saturday’s Military Appreciation Night. Tomac transferred to the main event via a first-place finish in his semi-qualifying race. He then launched his CRF450R off the line to a mid-pack start and worked his way into seventh, which is where he stayed the remainder of the 20-lap main event.
“Today wasn’t bad for just my second race back. I’m feeling better and better and my shoulder is getting stronger,” said Tomac. “I know that as it gets better, my finishes will get better as well. We always want to do well for GEICO and our sponsors but with this race being a salute to the military and having my brother here, I really wanted to do the best I could and give them a great show. It was really special. I struggled all day in practice but we found a good set up and that worked good throughout night. Now I have one full race under my belt and something to build off.”
Teammate Wil Hahn was unable to compete after reinjuring his hand in practice. “I probably should have waited a week but I really wanted to race here, especially with it being Military Appreciation Night,” explained Hahn. “As soon as I crashed in practice I realized right away that it happened because my hand isn't healed all the way. If I had been able to grip the handlebars like normal, I wouldn't have gone down. I decided to take the night off to make sure I can race next weekend in Dallas."
With both of GEICO Honda’s Western Regional 250SX class riders injured, the team sets its sights on next weekend’s race at Cowboy Stadium, which also plays host to round one of the East series. Joining the team’s effort will be Blake Wharton, Justin Bogle and Matt Bisceglia.
It was an exciting night for the Troy Lee Designs/ Lucas Oil/ Honda crew with all four riders logging solid finishes aboard their CRF250Rs. Malcolm Stewart put together an exceptional ride, climbing the podium with a third-place finish. Going into San Diego, teammate Cole Seely was tied for first in the overall championship chase. He finished fourth and now sits a mere four points behind the leader heading into the mid-season break. Rookie Shane McElrath scored his best finish of the season in fifth, followed by Jessy Nelson in sixth.
Because current racing rules require that the motorcycles be closely based on production machines, Honda created the ideal racing platform with the CRF450R that Team Honda Muscle Milk can tune for pro racing application.
“The 2013 model was all new, and stock it was a fantastic bike,” said team manager Dan Betley. “The 2014 model is an upgraded version of that. As we refine the race bike from year to year, the lap times come down, which means we are doing our jobs and the riders are getting more comfortable on the equipment.
“Engine-wise the bikes are refined but the whole key to any works bike program is fine tuning the equipment to the individual rider and finding out what their goals and specific needs are on that equipment. Does our race bike have more horsepower that a production motor? Yes. But is it crazy-hard to ride? No. It is about having the horsepower where you need it and catering that to the rider’s style and what he is looking for.
“During the course of the season, we do make tuning changes, especially when we switch from Supercross to the Motocross series. For Supercross we focus more on bottom to mid-range engine power, trying to get a better response coming out of a corner to help our riders, for example, get over a triple that doesn't have much run-up. For motocross, the engines are tuned more for mid-to-top-range power due to the high speeds encountered on the outdoor tracks. Either way, we are always focused on ease of riding and smoothness of power delivery. You don’t want anything too hard to ride.”
|6||Justin Barcia (Honda)|
|7||Eli Tomac (Honda)|
|3||Malcolm Stewart (Honda)|
|4||Cole Seely (Honda)|
|5||Shane Mcelrath (Honda)|
|6||Jessy Nelson (Honda)|
|7||Michael Leib (Honda)|
|9||Jake Canada (Honda)|