Team Suzuki Press Office – March 19. Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki remains upbeat after last-lap incidents at the weekend’s AMA/ FIM World Supercross Championship 11th round at Indianapolis saw Davi Millsaps and Blake Wharton lose a podium position and walk-away race victory.
Early 450cc Main Event leader Millsaps tipped-off in a corner entering the start straight, but remounted to finish fourth, but 250cc Main Event leader Wharton crashed off the track spectacularly within sight of the finish line as he held a commanding lead of almost four seconds.
Millsaps, who is still riding with a knee injury, looked great all day: Starting with the final 450 qualifying practice – where he posted the second fastest lap time – he then celebrated a successful heat race finishing in a respectable second place. In the 20-lap Main Event, he took the holeshot although he was quickly passed by Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart a few corners later. He stayed right on the leader, challenging him for position for several laps. Unfortunately, series leader Ryan Villopoto was right on Millsaps’ rear tyre as well so he was also forced to protect his lines, losing the battle, but on for a podium position before the fall.
Said Millsaps: “Well… bad night, but it could have been worse. I need to keep riding more. It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve been able to ride a lot due to my knee. I’ll shake that rust off. This is a better race than I’ve had the last two weekends, so I need to work on that and keep pushing forward.”
Although Wharton’s practice did not begin as positively as his team mate, his momentum picked up as the day progressed. Wharton went down hard in a high-speed crash as he collided with Vince Friese at the end of the track’s longest straightaway. He was down for quite some time and had to go back to the truck, do some stretching, focus mentally and then regroup. And he did just that.
Just like Millsaps in the 450 Main, Wharton nabbed the holeshot in the 250 Main. He didn’t look back and stretched out a substantial lead for 14-and-a-half laps. Then, when he seemingly had his second consecutive victory at Lucas Oil Stadium all wrapped up, he went down in the whoops with just half- a-lap remaining, but remounted to finish fifth.
Then, to make things worse, an official protest was filed against him by another team over where he re-entered the track. It came down to another opinion-based decision. Some would say that due to the safety of other riders and Wharton himself, given his position on the track with no access to cut across lanes, that he made the right decision. That, however, was not the ruling that was made. Wharton was docked four positions and knocked back to ninth.
Said Wharton: “Rough day with the practice crash. I knew I needed a good start in the Main. I got the holeshot and was riding solid until my mishap. I have the speed; I just need to put every lap down.”
Next weekend marks round 12 and the only international stop of the 2013 Supercross Series in Toronto, Canada. Millsaps will strive to cut into the nine-point deficit he currently has and Wharton will try to put in 15 solid laps en-route to his first victory of the year.
450cc SX Main Event Results: 1. Ryan Villopoto (Kawasaki), 2. Ryan Dungey (KTM), 3. James Stewart (Yoshimura Suzuki), 4. Davi Millsaps (Rockstar Energy Suzuki), 5. Justin Barcia (Honda), 6. Chad Reed (Honda), 7. Andrew Short (KTM), 8. Matt Goerke (KTM), 9. Eli Tomac (Honda), 10. Weston Peick (Suzuki), 11 Brock Tickle (RCH Suzuki), 12 Josh Hill (RCH Suzuki).