Justin Barcia rode a smooth race winding up just one spot off the podium but enough to secure him a second Lites Supercross title.
Justin Barcia headed to New Orleans with a 32-point lead in the Monster Energy Supercross Lites East Series. A fourth-place finish or better would do the trick and secure the Honda rider his second consecutive East Coast title.
“The thoughts on winning a second Lites championship would be huge,” stated Barcia pre-race. “It’s something that doesn’t happen every day and something that us riders work so hard for in and out everyday training and riding. It’s just such a huge accomplishment and to be able to do it again would be incredible.”
Second in the points standings, KTM‘s Ken Roczen posed a definite threat after taking top honors in timed practice ahead of the defending champ. Rockstar Suzuki rider Blake Wharton is another 2012 race winner and he followed Barcia’s qualifying time heading into the night program.
As Heat 1 got off the gate it was Barcia who jumped out front early and broke away with a comfortable lead while Malcolm Stewart and Phil Nicoletti battled it out for the second position. Stewart eventually took the advantage while Barcia went on to collect the Heat 1 win with Stewart and Nicoletti on the podium.
Blake Wharton didn’t have the night he may have wanted. The Suzuki-mounted rider went into New Orleans sitting second in points and ended the night finishing fourth in the championship.
Heat 2 featured two 2012 race winners, Roczen and Wharton. The KTM rider ended up with the holeshot while Wharton followed closely behind. Roczen cruised to an easy heat win while Wharton held on to second. Pro Circuit Kawsaki teammates Blake Baggett and Darryn Durham finished third and fourth, respectively.
In the main event it was LCQ transfer rider Alex Martin with the holeshot. Durham and Barcia trailed closely behind. By Lap 2 Martin was overtaken by the Kawasaki rider. Barcia held onto third spot until he tied it with a bow and handed it right over to Stewart. Reports of unfriendly riding in practice between the two were probably the reasoning with Barcia focused on wrapping up the championship.On Lap 6, Stewart went down hard through the whoops but was amazingly able to get back up and rejoin the race.
Durham went on to win his first ever Supercross Lites race. Smiling ear-to-ear the excited Pro Circuit rider shared his thoughts: “Man, it’s a dream come true to finally win one, I’m really happy. I actually had a really bad day. Practice wasn’t that good, my heat race wasn’t that good. To be able to put it together for the main, I’m just super happy.”
Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider Darryn Durham had a solid night in New Orleans taking the first Supercross Lites win of his career.
Durham’s teammate, Bagget, went out to finish runner-up giving the Monster PC Kawasaki team the top two steps on the podium. Geico Honda rider Justin Bogle rounded out the final spot on the box while stablemate Barcia finished with a solid fourth place, enough to secure him the 2012 Lites East Coast title.
“I think for sure defending this title was tougher than getting my first title,” Barcia claimed. “I can’t thank my team enough, I’m just so blessed to be out there. Winning two Supercross (Lites) Championships is huge for me. I’m just so mind blown right now to be going to the 450’s soon.”
For the next round we head back to the West Coast to Seattle, Washington. Don’t miss out on the action. With close points standings, who will it be to capture that West Coast crown? Will it be Dean Wilson or Eli Tomac? We’re going to have to wait until this weekend to find out.