Blake Wharton rode fast and consistent all night to take advantage of a strange evening of racing and collect his first win of the season.
Indianapolis was the first time that an AMA/FIM Supercross race featured a staggered start, and it was the result of an untimely accident. The unexpected format change impacted the final results in the Eastern Region Supercross Lites division and helped put a stop to a winning streak that has dominated the series thus far.
The Eastern Supercross Lites class fired off the gates in qualifying and proved to be a night primed for aggressive riding right off the bat. Darryn Durham smashed his Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki into the Red Bull KTM of Ken Roczen in the opening heat race and then threw a nac-nac in the German’s face over the finish line. Roczen was obviously pissed and roosted the PC rider on his way back to the pits. Now it’s on…
Heat 2 saw Justin Barcia and Blake Wharton pushing each other around with the Geico Honda rider eventually taking his fourth Heat race win ahead of Wharton. Bam Ban headed into the final with the intention of keeping his main event four-race winning streak alive.
The holeshot went to Roczen with Monster PC Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett in tow. The Team Green rider snuck immediately into the lead only to have it stolen away just as quickly. Meanwhile, Barcia crashed off the end of a rhythm section and dropped back to 10th. It looked as though the defending champion would have his work cut out for him as the stars were aligning for the World Champion MX rider, Roczen, to put an end to the streak. That all suddenly changed when the red flag came out after five laps as the medical crew could not extract Star Valli Yamaha’s Kyle Cunningham from the track. Roczen was over a second ahead of Baggett at the time and he got the shaft as all the riders were stacked up again for a restart. Instead of the traditional gated start, race officials lined up the riders in a staggered start that stretched down the entirety of the start straight. The KTM rider got to lead the group, but Barcia was allowed to within six bike lengths instead of the sizeable gap prior to the red flag.
Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen had victory in his grasp but whiskey-throttled off a jump and recorded 19th at the end.
According to the AMA rule book (Page 31, Rule 4, Section A), if a race is red flagged within the first three laps then it goes back to the starting gate. After three laps and the riders are lined up in a staggered start according to their finish position one lap prior to the red flag. AMA/FIM Race Director John Gallagher made an appearance to explain this but it was clear that the riders and fans were confused by the long, offset line of riders that stretched almost to the first turn. Instead of using the starting gate, the flagger raised a green flag to signal the restart, similar to what is found at GNCC or other off-road races.
Roczen sprinted out to the lead again but Barcia took advantage and started picking off riders right away from his seventh-place start.
It looked like the KTM rider might salvage his night but then he lost the font end of his KTM 250 SX-F and fell off the right side of the bike, pinning the throttle and ghosting the orange machine over a double. Scrambling up the jump face on all fours, Roczen remounted but immediately pulled off into the mechanics area, allowing a slew of riders past including Barcia in third.
“I’m so bummed, it was just bad luck,” said Roczen. “The whole red flag thing got all of us out of rhythm a little bit.”
Wharton inherited the lead and immediately set off after that elusive first win of the season. His Rockstar Suzuki was running well and the long-haired fashion mogul of the SX tour put his right hand to use as he raced away to the victory. The win pulls him to within one point of second overall.
“It was a great night,” said the Suzuki rider. “A lot of weird things happened but the racing was good. That’s all you can really ask for. These guys have been going really fast and I just have to keep working.”
Barcia ran Durham high on the last lap, but the Kawasaki rider held on and claimed second place. “I’ve been really consistent so far and I made up a few points on Justin tonight, he was riding good,” said the Monster PC Kawi rider. “Blake was riding awesome, too.”
“I am lucky to finish where I did tonight,” said Barcia, who still holds a 22-point advantage over Durham. “It was so slick out there tonight and tough to get through the corners. It just wasn’t our night tonight, but we will be back.”
Behind the leaders Baggett had a relatively quiet ride as he tried new tire compounds in an attempt to get comfortable on the Indy layout. He would finish fourth with Jake Canada continuing his strong performances in fifth. Rookie Justin Bogle snaked sixth away from AMA Arenacross champion Tyler Bowers with a clean inside pass in a right-hander. Bowers also allowed Matt Lemoine to get by.
2012 AMA Supercross Lites Indianapolis Results:
1. Blake Wharton (Suzuki)
2. Darryn Durham (Kawasaki)
3. Justin Barcia (Honda)
4. Blake Baggett (Kawasaki)
5. Jake Canada (Honda)
6. Justin Bogle (Honda)
7. Matthew Lemoine (Kawasaki)
8. Tyler Bowers (Kawasaki)
9. Les Smith, (KTM)
10. Shawn Rife (Honda)
11. Angelo Pellegrini (Suzuki)
12. Kyle Peters (Yamaha)
13. Shane Sewell (KTM)
14. PJ Larsen (KTM)
15. Alex Martin (Honda)
2012 AMA Eastern Supercross Lites Championship Standings:
1. Justin Barcia, 120
2. Darryn Dunham, 98
3. Blake Wharton, 97
4. Blake Baggett, 80
5. Ken Roczen, 80
6. Jake Canada, 72
7. Justin Bogle, 61
8. Kyle Cunningham, 43
9. Malcolm Stewart, 42
10. PJ Larsen, 38