Eli Tomac opens 2012 Supercross season with podium finish for GEICO Honda team
On a night when seemingly everything was working against him, GEICO Honda rider Eli Tomac gutted out an impressive third-place finish in the Supercross West Lites main event at Angel Stadium.
Tomac had a tough start to the evening, falling down at the launch of the first qualifying heat. He then rode all the way up to seventh place only to have his bike go silent a few turns before the finish due to an electrical problem brought on by earlier contact with another rider.
The Durango, Colorado, native responded with a convincing win in the LCQ (last chance qualifier), but had a lousy gate selection for the main. Nevertheless, he managed to make the first turn in a mid-pack position and picked his way through the pack from there, taking third place from rival Dean Wilson just before the finish.
“I definitely had to earn this one,” Tomac said. “The night starts and in the first 10 feet of the first heat I get totally cleaned out by some random rider. I fall down and hear 50,000 people go ‘ooohhh’ and I thought to myself, ‘What an awesome way to start the season.’ So it’s off to the LCQ and I’m like, ‘Man, this is a lot of pressure.’ But it all turned out good. I got a better start in the main and got around the first turn somewhere in the middle and just rode from there. I was in the second grouping for awhile but I was able to do some jumps that other guys couldn’t do and that was the difference. I was able to close the gap on the front guys and then got past Wilson there at the end. He tried some move but it didn’t work and he wrecked out. That gave us third, so I’m pretty happy.”
Hahn started with a runaway victory in the first qualifying heat and was battling for position for several laps on the main event with a breakaway group of four riders, but he crashed on the ninth circuit and fell back to eighth place, where he remained the rest of the race. The crash broke his nose.
“I was riding so well and I was ready to go to the front and challenge (winner Cole) Seely but I just landed weird on a little jump and the bike came over the top of me and landed right on my face,” Hahn said. “I was actually a little goofy there for awhile but I kept riding. I was so mad at myself for falling down plus I knew I had broken my nose again, but there was no way I was going to quit. I wanted so much more out of this race, especially after qualifying like that. I’ll be ready to make up for this next week in Phoenix.”
On the bigger bikes, Windham had what he described as a “jittery” evening and rode just behind the lead groupings in both the qualifying heat and the main event.
“You would think that 18 years in that I wouldn’t be nervous about A1 but I was and I think it showed,” Windham said. “Having a family at home and having other things to worry about besides just riding prevented me from practicing out here in California as much as I would have liked. All the unknowns that riders have coming into any season were kind of compounded for me. I came into this race more jittery than I have in the past. The guys gave me a great bike. The GEICO Honda CRF450R was perfect and if I would have ridden to the top of my abilities I could have shown that. I kind of got tight in the middle of the race but found a second wind and made some moves there at the end that showed I can still do this. I expect a much better outing in Phoenix.”
The second stop of the AMA Supercross tour takes place next Saturday at Chase Field in Phoenix.