Justin Barcia‘s time away from the top of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Lites East podium lasted all of one race after he guided his GEICO Honda to his fifth win of the year Saturday night at the Rogers Centre.
“I can’t be any happier than I am right now,” Barcia said. “Last weekend was just a tough one for me but I knew I’d be able to come back. I got my first Supercross win here in 2010 so to come back and win again is awesome.”
Also in Canada, Supercross rider Kevin Windham gutted through lingering injuries to finish on the podium for the second time this season thanks to a third-place effort.
It’s Barcia’s fifth win in six tries on the Lites East side this season. His only blemish was a third-place finish in Indianapolis last week.
On Saturday, Barcia battled the slick, rocky Canadian soil and rival Ken Roczen for the first few laps before pulling away to a comfortable 7.4-second victory.
“I was able to get a great holeshot but wasn’t able to get through the rhythm section as fast as Roczen,” Barcia said. “He was able to pass me so I had to trail him for a few laps. Then I saw a little opening and went for it. I was lucky enough to make the pass and just kind of ran a smooth race from there.”
Barcia extended his championship lead to 28 points over former teammate Blake Wharton with three races left on the Lites East schedule (Houston, New Orleans and Las Vegas).
Windham came into the race battling a stiff back and neck thanks to multiple crashes a week ago in Indy. The 34-year-old veteran was able to block out the pain all day long, both in qualifying, the heat race and the main event.
“It’s a great day for the whole GEICO Honda program,” said Windham, who captured his second podium in three weeks. “They did everything they could to get my bike prepared to cut my number of laps down to a minimum. I didn’t even ride this week. It was more important to stay off the bike and focus on physical therapy and recovery.”
Lingering in sixth place for much of the main, Windham made a bold move with five laps to go to surge into third place. His podium finish earned him the race’s Rock Hard, Ride Hard Award.
“Traffic got pretty sick and pretty crazy,” Windham said. “Sometimes I’d like to say some veteran skill came out, but really sometimes it’s just luck. I was in the right place at the right time tonight. You see this happen a lot in the sport. You see a rider that’s injured or sick and they rally for a good performance.”
With James Stewart missing Saturday’s race due to injury, Windham finds himself in a tight battle for third place in the championship standings. Stewart sits third, with Davi Millsaps in fourth, eight points back. Windham is fifth, three points behind Millsaps. To add to the drama, fellow Honda rider Justin Brayton trails Windham by a point.
GEICO Honda’s other Lites East rider, Justin Bogle, had an up-and-down night in Toronto. After being the No. 1 qualifier, he stalled his bike, then crashed hard on the final lap of his heat. He then rallied to win his LCQ.
In the main, he got off to a tough start from the far gate, but was able to fight his way through the field to ultimately finish eighth.
“It was one of those days where nothing went my way,” Bogle said. “I’m getting frustrated with all these ‘learning experiences.’ But with the way my night went and the way I was feeling going into the main – I’m happy with an eighth.”
Bogle leaves Canada in seventh place, eight behind Blake Baggett for sixth.
Team rider Wil Hahn, who is challenging a few races in the Supercross series for the Muscle Milk Honda team, finished 10th in his first effort on a 450cc bike and in the first race back since fracturing his hip two months ago.
The Monster Energy AMA Supercross series returns stateside on March 31 when the series heads to Houston to race in Reliant Stadium.