SOUTHWICK, Mass. Riders from the GEICO Powersports Honda team won both of the 250cc motos on Saturday at the Moto-X 338 National, and secured two of the three podium spots.
Trey Canard won the first moto of the day and finished third overall. Justin Barcia won moto No. 2 and was second overall to Tyla Rattray, who finished second in both motos and ended with a better combined finish. Barcia said conquering the shifting sands of Southwick was a real challenge.
“I got a great start in that second moto, got the lead fast and kind of checked out,” said Barcia who finished fourth in the first moto of the day. “It felt pretty awesome. I wish I would have got the overall win today, but second shows that we’re getting there.
“This is the hardest track we race on all year. The bumps and the holes I almost lost it so bad in the second moto. The sand moves and the lappers crash and blow out the turns, so it’s different every lap.”
For Canard, his seventh podium finish of the season represented a mixed bag on the day. In the second moto, Canard fell after he touched wheels with Dean Wilson. While he rallied to finish ninth in that race, Canard’s streak of four consecutive event wins was broken.
“You expect a lot of crazy stuff to happen here at this track,” Canard said. “That second moto wasn’t a good one, but it wasn’t a disaster, either. I came out of there healthy.
“I saw Rattray coming the last four or five laps of that first moto. I kind of made some mistakes, but pulled it together at the end. I probably had my best three laps of the day the last three laps of that moto.
A bright spot for Canard was that he shaved three points off of Christophe Pourcel’s lead in the 250 class. Canard trails by 13 points with two events worth 100 points total left in the season.
“It was a good day,” Canard said. “I felt like I struggled all day. But for it being so difficult on me and coming out the way I did, I feel fortunate.”
Rookie Eli Tomac had another strong day, finishing seventh overall after finishes of sixth and seventh at Moto-X 338.
“Today was a solid day for me,” Tomac said. “Once again starts got me. There are a ton of really fast guys out there. But I’m definitely back to my old self again and it feels good to be back. I’m pretty close to the top guys’ pace and I’m making it through the motos without dropping off.”
It was a day full of struggles for GEICO Powersports Honda’s fourth 250 rider, Blake Wharton, who finished 11th overall after finishes of 14th and 12th. The team’s 450cc rider Brett Metcalfe seemed destined for a career day before being buried in an avalanche of bad luck. Metcalfe used a gutsy move at the start of the first moto to win the hole shot and check out to a big lead. Metcalfe was only challenged by Ryan Dungey, who wrapped up the 450 title on Saturday. But disaster struck on the last half of the last lap when Metcalfe’s bike ran out of gas.
“I was determined to win today and was going to do everything in my power to get make it happen,” said Metcalfe who was credited with a 14th place finish in the first moto. “I was extremely close, but I ran out of gas with five corners left in the race. That’s just the way racing goes sometimes.
“I was proud of the way I rode that moto.”
The second moto went from bad to worse. Metcalfe got caught up in a pileup during the start then fell off two more times trying to avoid collisions with other riders. He battled back to finish seventh in the second moto and ninth on the day.
There was a ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy day for Metcalfe. The man Metcalfe is chasing for second place, Andrew Short, had a more miserable day than Metcalfe. Short now holds a three point lead over Metcalfe for second place.
“I got lucky there, I guess,” Metcalfe said. “We both had a rough day. My average day just ended up being better than Shorty’s terrible day. The competition for second is going to go down to the wire.”
Kevin Windham, who is a GEICO Powersports Honda regular during Supercross season and is filling in on the Red Bull Honda team for outdoors, finished fifth overall on Saturday with moto finishes of seventh and fifth.
The GEICO Powersports Honda team is right back at it on Sept. 4 at the Steel City National outside Pittsburgh.