Team Suzuki Press Office – April 15. Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki’s Davi Millsaps and Blake Wharton both raced to podiums at the weekend’s Minneapolis Supercross – as Millsaps warned he’s not going anywhere and he’s still fighting and pushing for the title.
Millsaps grabbed third place on his RM-Z450 in the 450cc Main Event as Wharton did the same in the 250cc Main aboard his RM-Z250. Both riders hold third position in their respective classes as the 450 series heads to Seattle next weekend; when the 250 West Coast 250cc class kicks back-in – before the final East-West deciding Shoot-Out at the Las Vegas finale in two weeks’ time.
In the 450 heat race, Millsaps came out firing immediately after his first drop of the gate: As James Stewart collided with a tuff block just in front of him – and went down – he narrowly-avoided hitting the soil himself. He careered off Stewart’s bike, thrown completely off-balance but saved it to easily win the heat.
In the 450 Main Event Millsaps contacted heavily enough with Mike Alessi to stall his bike. Fortunately he was able to bump-start it and lose little time and salvaged a decent start as he linked-up with the two leaders in third position.
Said Millsaps: “We’ve got to go back and make a few tweaks on my bike and myself to improve and move forward. The track was kind-of inconsistent tonight. It was bumpy in some places where it’s normally not, slick in some places; and sticky in others. I just struggled a little bit tonight. All day actually, in practice, in the heat and the Main Event.
“Hopefully I can pull it together in the next race. Definitely good to get another podium. I’m not complaining by any means. A lot of people are looking at the bad this year because I was in the points lead and now I’m in third. It’s just the fact that every single person is in this class. I’ve never led the points before. I’ve never been on the podium nine times in one season. It’s really been an accomplishment for me and my team to be up in the front as much as we are. I still feel like we’ve made a statement. We’re here and we’re not going anywhere and we’re going to keep pushing to move forward.”
Wharton’s night was nearly a carbon-copy of Millsaps’ as he didn’t have his best practice qualifying times of the year, yet went on to cross the finish-line in first in his heat race. He didn’t get the holeshot in the Main but produced a solid start. The difference in the night for Wharton was the happenings in his Main: There was a lot of contact throughout the first half of the race. Wharton was getting and dishing blows. At about lap five, Wharton came together with Tyler Bowers. As a result he moved into third place. He then settled into a good pace and completed the 250 Main continuing his podium streak with a solid third position.
Said Wharton: “Minneapolis, Minnesota… first time for me racing here. I guess the last race was in 2008, so that was cool. Practice was good and my heat race was good. The Main Event was full of action and that first five laps was crazy! ‘Gotta get with the front guys and go, just do my thing. I ended up third; not where I wanted to be, I lost the pace for a minute. But it is what it is. We’re going to Vegas now so we’ll see how it goes.”
Rockstar Energy Racing Team Manager Dave Gowland said: “Today went good. I think the biggest thing is that you always get expectations. I think that we’ve set our expectations a lot higher as the series has gone on. We won two heat races and that was great. The guys looked really good. Both guys looked great all day. We were on the box and we finished third but we want to win: That’s what we’ve come here for, what we did early on; and before the series ends we ‘wanna do it again.”
As the East Coast series will now take two weeks off before the final in Las Vegas, Millsaps and his team will head to Seattle and re-join Jason Anderson and Ryan Sipes as the West Coast Series reconvenes.