SACRAMENTO, Calif. – GEICO Honda rider Kevin Windham had no plans to ride in the 2011 Lucas Oil Motorcross Series but that all changed when he received a phone call from the Factory Honda team asking him to fill-in for former teammate Trey Canard.
“I don’t know where it came from but I just found this desire in me to come out here and race,” Windham said.
The decision was a good one as, despite an accident that caused internal injuries just two weeks ago in the Supercross finale in Vegas, Windham rode to a fourth-place overall finish at Saturday’s Hangtown event.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect especially after my crash in Vegas,” Windham said after recording a sixth-place and a fourth-place finish in the day’s two motos. “I didn’t get any time to prepare for outdoors because I had to be off the bike waiting for some internal bleeding to stop but I feel like today was a success.
“We came out here kind of winging it. We just gave it our all and went for it. I’d say we did pretty well, all things considered. I’m happy being fourth overall.
“The first race was great. I got the holeshot and held the lead for a while. I know I have the bike and pretty soon I’ll get the legs to be able to hold onto the lead.”
Windham’s GEICO Honda teammate in the Lites class, Eli Tomac, was reallyÃ‚Â looking forward to the switch from Supercross to Motocross and his performance Saturday proved he was ready. The defending event champ earned a third-place finish in the first moto and a fourth-place result in the second, landing him fourth in the overall rankings.
“It wasn’t a great day but we did okay,” Tomac said. “Finishing third and fourth isn’t a bad way to start the season. Of course I was looking to win but it wasn’t in the cards for me today. I just need to get faster and ride harder next time.”
The switch from Supercross to Motocross puts a lot of extra physical demands on the riders and it really showed in the heat of Northern California.
“I wasn’t terribly worn out but the second moto was a struggle,” Tomac said. “Honestly, I just wasn’t riding to my full potential and I’m not sure why. I need to ride my best every race and today I didn’t.”
Fellow GEICO Honda Lites rider Justin Barcia, the newly-crowned Supercross Lites East champion, tried to carry the momentum from his championship to the outdoor season opener, and he looked sharp at times, but a crash in the second moto out a damper on his day.
“I was really looking forward to Hangtown,” Barcia said. “It’s a totally different style of racing than Supercross but I was ready for the change.”
Barcia was second quickest in practice and ran a solid race in the first moto, collecting a sixth-place finish. In the second moto he got the holeshot and led the first three laps before crashing out.
“Today was tough,” Barcia said. “Definitely not what we expected but I’m not going to let this get me down. I’m going to get to work so I can make sure I’m up on the podium next weekend.”
The second round of the 2011 AMA Lucas Oil Outdoor Nationals takes place Saturday, May 28, in Wortham, Texas.