New Berlin, NY – As the series rolled back to the east coast again for the “Retro” Unadilla National, and the final swing of the AMA Pro Motocross Championships, there was a surprise as star GEICO Powersports rider Kevin Windham decided he wanted to race at one of his favorite tracks on the circuit. Not only that, but he wanted to do it on a CRF250R, a class of bike he had never raced previously.
After practicing on one of his teammates 250s, Windham decided he want to race it despite outweighing one of his teammates – Justin Barcia – by almost 60 pounds. That kind of weight is a significant amount of effective horsepower he was giving up, and he didn’t get a great start in the first moto. Still, he fought his way up to just outside the top 10, finishing 12th after battling it out with the younger, lighter riders all moto long.
“When there were so many people around me, I had to run certain lines because of those guys, and as the lines developed, it turned into these big berms, so without horsepower, it’s hard to take another line at my weight and make up any time on anyone when they’re bouncing off of berms like that,” Windham said. “It was tough, and I got slower and slower as the race went on, it seems.”
In moto two, Windham’s gate choice turned out not to be as good as in moto one, and that didn’t help his start. After starting nearly last, he still worked his way up to 21st place, one spot out of a points-paying position.
“It was a real bright idea that I had to try and go out there and ride the 250F because I was having a lot of fun practicing on it, but it’s one thing to go fast in practice with a clear track...” Windham said. “Giving up the weight that I do to those guys, it was such a disadvantage off the start, and it was really difficult. During the races, then I had to deal with guys in front of me who were blocking me and I couldn’t go anywhere. The track was also pretty soft compared to the way it used to be. I still enjoyed being out there and I enjoyed riding the bike, but it wasn’t the best day of racing. The fans seemed to be pretty pumped about it, though.”
Windham’s Aussie teammate Brett Metcalfe continued his streak of fourth-place finishes at Unadilla, starting a ways back and fighting his way up to fourth in both motos. They were his fifth and sixth fourth-place finishes in succession.
“I definitely felt like I had the potential and was riding well enough to be top three, but the top-three guys on the weekend tended to get better starts than I did, and I started further back,” Metcalfe said. “Their laptimes were good and they started up front, so I rode well enough, but just didn’t get the starts I needed in order to be in contention. They may not have gotten the best of starts either, but they were better than mine, and if I had started up in the top three, I think I definitely would’ve been up on the box. I think that made the difference, just the start. Coming back for fourth was good, but I couldn’t close the gap after I caught up to fourth. We just stayed the same.”
Rookie sensation Justin Barcia started up near the front in both motos, but he had a bit of a problem with arm-pump and eventually finished with 7-10 scores for eighth overall on the very rough Unadilla circuit.
“The track was gnarly this weekend. It was probably the gnarliest track I’ve ridden in a while,” Barcia said. “They didn’t groom it at all after the 450s raced, and it was a really difficult track for me in general. I got arm-pump pretty bad out there. It wasn’t a good weekend for me, but I’m still relatively happy considering the stuff that went wrong with me.”
Although Barcia is from that area of the country, he had never actually raced at Unadilla before.
“There were a lot of fans and stuff that were rooting for me, and I figured it would be a good track for me, but I hadn’t actually ridden that track before in my life, so it’s not like it was my home track or anything,” Barcia said.
Blake Wharton also ran up front in both motos. In the first moto, he ran inside the top five the whole time, eventually finishing fifth despite a fall. Then, in the second moto, while running second, something happened over one of the track’s big tabletops and he went over the bars hard, ending his day.
“The first moto was pretty good, and I got a decent start and battled up front,” Wharton said. “I ended up going down toward the end, but I got up and finished where I was in fifth. It was pretty good considering I fell. The second moto, I got a decent start again, but I passed guys right away and moved my way up to second. I was feeling good, then I hit the tabletop and endoed.”
To top off the weekend, GEICO Powersports Honda’s Metcalfe was named to the Australian Motocross des Nations team for the second year in a row.
“It’s definitely a great honor once again to represent Australia, and I’m excited to be on the team with Chad [Reed] and Byrner [Michael Byrne],” Metcalfe said. “Us three guys are riding well right now and we’ll be able to represent Australia pretty strongly. Nothing will likely change over the next few weeks, though. I want to win a moto before this thing’s over, and as far as the des Nations are concerned, it’s not really on my mind right now. I’ve just got to finish out these nationals in a better position.”
From here, the GEICO Powersports Honda team heads to Budds Creek, Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC, for round 10 of the series at Budds Creek. Windham will take part in the event on his more customary CRF450R, and he will be joined by the returning Dan Reardon, who has been off with a shoulder injury since the High Point race back on June 13.
Team Sponsors: GEICO Powersports, Honda, Planet Fitness, Unbound Energy, AM/PM, Factory Connection, Fox, Shoei, Gaerne, DVS, Amsoil Lubricants, Cycra Plastics, Dunlop Tires, EK Chains, Filtron Air Filters, Hinson Clutches, Leatt Brace, One Industries, Pro Circuit, Renthal, Shock Doctor, Showa, TAG Sprockets, Vortex Ignitions, VP Fuels, and Works Connection.
Unadilla 250cc Overall:
1. Christophe Pourcel Kaw
2. Ryan Dungey Suz
3. Jake Weimer Kaw
4. Brett Metcalfe GEICO Powersports Honda
5. Broc Tickle Yam
6. Kyle Cunningham Kaw
7. Tommy Searle KTM
8. Justin Barcia GEICO Powersports Honda
9. Matt Lemoine Yam
10. PJ Larsen Kaw
11. Blake Wharton GEICO Powersports Honda
20. Kevin Windham GEICO Powersports Honda