Delmont, Penn. – The GEICO Powersports Honda team headed into the final round of the AMA Pro Motocross Championships, at Steel City Raceway in Delmont, Pennsylvania, with high hopes and high expectations. Having just won the previous event in Massachusetts, the team was looking for more of the same in Pennsylvania.
However, at Steel City, it wasn’t Justin Barcia with the top finish, as he had when he won at Southwick a week earlier, but rather Blake Wharton.
Wharton went out in the first moto and, despite two crashes, still managed a finish of eighth. Then, in moto two, he put it together in the final moto of the season, he fought the pack off to finish a solid third place, and third overall – his second podium finish of the season.
“The second moto was definitely a lot better than my first one,” Wharton said. “I fell in the first moto, twice, and struggled a little bit with the track. But the second moto, I got a pretty good start, and then made my way to the front and battled it out the whole time. The track was pretty tough, but it was the last round, and I gave it my all.”
Wharton finished eighth in points despite failing to score points in five total motos, including two in the mud at Budds Creek, and one when he broke his foot at Unadilla while leading.
“My season started out slow, and I didn’t do much at Glen Helen, but each round got better for a while, then I broke my foot at Unadilla,” Wharton said. “It wasn’t as consistent as I wanted, but it was a long season, and to not do well at the last round, that leaves a sour taste in your mouth, so I’m happy to get third overall here.”
Last week’s winner, Justin Barcia, started off the day strong, finishing a solid third in moto one, but then got sick between motos and couldn’t duplicate it in the second moto.
“It was actually a decent weekend to end the series with,” Barcia said. “The first moto, I got third, and I felt like I was riding pretty good. Then in the second moto, it wasn’t so good. I think I got like 13th or something. I wasn’t feeling so good, and it just made for a bummer to end my season, but all in all it was okay.”
He finished sixth overall. Barcia says he learned a ton in his rookie season.
“I learned more than I’ve ever learned before in racing, just in this one season,” Barcia said. “There are so many good riders out here, and it was just crazy. I’m pretty happy with where I ended up in the points considering some of my bad races and stuff, so it was definitely a learning year, and it was a good one for that.”
Brett Metcalfe, who was hanging onto third in the overall points for the season, had a tough day overall at Steel City.
“It was a rough day for me,” Metcalfe said. “I was never comfortable all day, and I felt like if I went over that comfort level, I would crash. This track can catch you off-guard quick. The real problem was that my comfort level today was slow. I qualified like 19th or something, then we made progress all day, and after the first moto, we made a good change and I got comfortable. It was much better the second moto, but overall, the day was crap. It was embarrassing that first moto.”
Metcalfe went 9-7 for eighth overall and finished out the series in a highly respectable third place overall.
And finally, in the WMA event, former champ Jessica Patterson continued her dominance from Southwick. In only her second AMA National with the team, she completed another two-moto sweep. Since riding for the GEICO Powersports Honda team, she is four for four, winning every moto she has entered.
“It gave me a lot more confidence [being on the team], especially knowing that I could pull sick holeshots,” Patterson said. “When I get holeshots, I pretty much feel amazing. Finally, I get a clear track, and you can choose from whatever line you want and just pin it, and hopefully pull out a gap. At first, it’s tough just being in the back and having to work through everybody, but being up front at the start, that changes everything.”
As for next year, she’s thinking ahead already.
“I definitely think I can win this championship again, especially if I’m on a good team like the GEICO Powersports Honda team,” Patterson said. “I want to come back and get this title. I don’t want to go out second-placed, and I think training with Ryno and working hard with the team will get me back on top again.”
That’s it for the year for the GEICO Powersports Honda team. The team is now busy wrapping up the 2009 season back at the shop, getting the rider and personnel lineups finalized, and then getting ready to take on the 2010 AMA Supercross and Motocross Championships with the 2010 Honda CRF450R and all-new 2010 Honda CRF250R.
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.
Steel City 250cc Overall:
1. Christophe Pourcel Kaw
2. Ryan Dungey Suz
3. Blake Wharton GEICO Powersports Honda
4. Ryan Sipes KTM
5. Jake Weimer Kaw
6. Justin Barcia GEICO Powersports Honda
7. Austin Stroupe Kaw
8. Brett Metcalfe GEICO Powersports Honda
9. Tommy Searle KTM
10. Blake Baggett Kaw
Steel City WMA Overall:
1. Jessica Patterson GEICO Powersports Honda
2. Mariana Balbi Hon
3. Sarah Whitmore KTM
4. Tarah Geiger Yam
5. Jacqueline Strong Hon
6. Elizabeth Bash Kaw
7. Sara Price Kaw
8. Allison Vrba Yam
9. Penni Cyrus Kaw
10. Alyssa Fitch Hon