Rockstar Energy Racing’s Blake Wharton continues to turn in notable performances in Supercross Lites. Despite the soaking wet setting that caused the Lites main to be shortened to 12 laps, Wharton was unfazed. He was second in his heat race and rode a smart main event to bring home a fifth-place finish. Unfortunately, Rockstar Energy Racing teammate Hunter Hewitt struggled in the quagmire and did not race the main event.
“Daytona is interesting because it’s more like a motocross track,” said Wharton. “I felt really good but it was muddy and conditions were pretty harsh. In the main, I basically got the holeshot and was up there in third and riding pretty good, but conditions were affecting the bike. I felt like I did some things good, but overall it’s not where I wanted to be. I raced at Indy in 2009 and last year. I like Indy, and it’ll be nice to be back on a Supercross track and racing indoors, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Also in Supercross Lites, Star Valli Yamaha’s Kyle Cunningham lifted his game in the swamp-like conditions that made up the Daytona track. After going down hard in practice, Cunningham crashed again in his heat race and had to go to the LCQ. Taking the win there, Cunningham turned in a smooth performance in the main event, which resulted in a solid seventh-place finish.
“Daytona was a little rough,” said Cunningham. “In the main, I got a decent start, but going into the corner, I got splashed with quite a bit of mud and I could barely see. But I rode pretty good, and actually finished seventh. Now I’m really looking forward to Indy next week. The bike’s working good and the team’s doing great, so I’m just pumped to get back out and race on a dry track and see what we can do next weekend.”
Star Valli Yamaha teammate Kyle Peters is still getting back into the swing of things after missing several rounds of Supercross Lites. Although he struggled in the Daytona morass, he still improved his performance over the race prior by taking the last transfer spot in his heat race and making the main. In the main event, Peters battled the mess of a track and went down, but still gave it his all to finish 17th.
“It was a tough day but it went a little better than St. Louis,” said Peters. “I got ninth in the heat race, which was just a survival race. For the main event, I got a decent start and I couldn’t see, fell over and had a rough night. Now, I’m looking forward to Indy next weekend. I’ve never raced there and it will be nice to be back in dry weather and on a Supercross track.”
In the Supercross class, Rockstar’s Brett Metcalfe did what he had to do to bring home maximum points. In his heat race, Metcalfe went down early but rallied to finish sixth and transfer to the main event. In the shortened, 16-lap main, Metcalfe suffered another get-off but remounted and put in a smart ride that allowed him to finish with a top-10 result.
“Daytona was interesting,” said Metcalfe. “The weather really challenged us. We had a pretty tough track; it was muddy and very rutty. With a main event like this, you need a good spot on the start gate to do something, so I was still pretty confident going in. But in the main, on the second or third lap, I went down and I dropped back a bit. I just couldn’t get it going after that, and I dropped back a few more and finished 10th. Now, I’m looking forward to Indy and getting back to good racing and getting up there in the results.”
Rockstar Supercross teammate Nick Wey held his own in the soaking Daytona conditions. Wey carded a seventh-place finish in his heat race and advanced to the main event. Then, in the main, he got drenched right off the bat and struggled to hold on to his grips for the first half of the race before drying out and bringing home a hard-fought 11th-place finish.
“I spent the entire week in Florida preparing in the sand and was excited about the race coming in,” said Wey. “In the main event, I was out of the first corner decently, but the track had a lot of standing water and I got splashed and accidentally jumped off the side of the track and into a huge mud hole. Toward the end, I started feeling better, drying off and could hold on better, so I started doing more of the jumps and I passed a few guys, and ended up 11th. Now I’m back on my normal training schedule and heading to Indy to put on a good race for my friends and family who come down, so I’m excited.”
Also in the Supercross class, Star Valli Yamaha’s Bobby Kiniry put in a valiant effort that ended too early. After advancing to the main via a ninth-place finish in his heat race, the Star Valli Yamaha rider wound up in some deep mud puddles that caused his bike to quit. Unable to re-start, Kiniry retired for the evening.
“I had a good ride in my heat race,” said Kiniry. “Even though I went down in the first turn, I got up and still got ninth, so that was good. In the main event, I got a bad start and got in those puddles in the back, and my bike sucked in a bunch of water and I was done on the first lap. We kicked and kicked and kicked, and tried to bump start, and tried to kick it again, but it wouldn’t start and that was my night. Now, I’m just excited about Indy because I’ve got some family coming and it should be a good race.”
Star Valli Yamaha’s Weston Peick improved upon his performance last week by finishing eighth in his heat race and transferring to the main. Unfortunately, the mud and ruts took their toll and Peick finished 19th. Finally, Star Valli Yamaha’s Ryan Morais, Austin Stroupe and Nico Izzi remain out due to injury.
The next event for the Rockstar Energy Racing teams is the 11th round of the 2012 AMA/FIM Supercross Championship on Saturday, March 17th, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. You can meet the Yoshimura Suzuki and Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki riders on Friday, March 16th from 6 to 7 PM at Dreyer Suzuki, 4170 West Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN.
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