Supercross Eastern Lites
JDR/J-Star/KTM rider PJ Larsen proved why he’s a two-time Australian National Champion after turning a top qualifying time and earning second overall in his heat before a crash ruined his night at the opening round of the AMA East Lites Supercross Series in Houston, Texas.
Larsen got the crowds attention at the start of the day when he tied Blake Baggett for the fastest lap time in the first timed Supercross Lites practice. Larsen maintained his pace in the second timed practice finishing sixth overall within one second of the top five aboard the KTM.
PJ Larsen (KTM Supercross) says: "I didn’t expect everyone to be so close in practice. It’s going to be a close race tonight and the start is going to count big, so I am crossing my fingers to be out front early."
In his Superross heat, Larsen pulled the KTM to a fourth place start off the line. He quickly passed Jason Anderson to move into third. Once inside the top three he began to close in on the front two Supercross Lites riders, Darryn Durham and Dean Wilson.
While the top two battled out front Larsen closed the gap and with two laps to go jumped over Durham to push his way into second place. Wilson maintained the lead while Larsen applied heavy pressure. On the final Supercross Lites lap, Larsen pushed hard and finished in second right on the rear tire of Wilson.
PJ Larsen says: "I was happy with my heat race result. I didn’t get that great of a start but I was able to make up for it within the first few laps. I was glad to run with Wilson and am looking forward to the main event."
Larsen, who had pulled some impressive starts while racing in Australia for his team earlier this year, appeared as if he might duplicate that off the start of the Supercross Lites main. Larsen nearly grabbed the Supercross Lites holeshot coming together with Malcolm Stewart as they crossed the first jump side by side.
Larsen settled for second off the start and immediately began to pressure Stewart. As they made their way to the back half of the track, Stewart cut hard under Larsen taking both Supercross Lites riders to the ground and a few more riders behind them. Larsen was slow to come up but eventually remounted and returned to the track in 17th.
PJ Larsen says: "When I recovered from the crash with Stewart, I realized real quick that my rear brake lever had been smashed in the crash. I tried to ride a few laps before pulling off the first time to fix it."
He pulled into the mechanics area on the fifth lap. He was able to kick his brake pedal back toward its normal position and then returned to the racing action approximately one lap down. A few laps later, Larsen’s brake pedal broke off and he had to finish the race without any rear brakes.
PJ Larsen says: "It was so hard to ride without the brakes but I wanted to stay out there as long as I could to try to salvage any extra points possible."
Larsen eventually finished the main event in 18th.
PJ Larsen says: "I’m definitely disappointed that I crashed in the beginning of the race, but its all part of racing and now I am just looking forward to redeeming myself at the next round."
Larsen’s Supercross teammate, Tye Simmonds, also had a day of bad luck. Simmonds, who competes in the SX class, came down with bronchitis earlier in the week.
Tye Simmonds (KTM Supercross) says: "I have been incredibly sick the past five days and was not able to ride at all this week."
Simmonds struggled throughout the day as he tried to push past his sickness: "I feel horrible today but I am doing my best to rest during the week and am really hoping this disappears by next week so I can have better luck in San Diego."
Simmonds will return to California to race the seventh round of the series in San Diego, Calif., next weekend while Larsen will have a two week break before returning for the second round of the East Lites SX at the Atlanta Supercross on Feb. 26.
Overall Houston Texas Results, Supercross Lites:
1. Justin Barcia
2. Dean Wilson
3. Blake Baggett
4. Ryan Sipes
5. Ian Trettel
6. Blake Wharton
7. Jason Anderson
8. Lance Vincent
9. Matt Lemoine
10. Alex Martin
11. Chris Gosselaar
12. Shawn Rife
13. Gannon Audette
14. Malcolm Stewart
15. Nick Izzi
16. AJ Catanzaro
17. Taylor Futrell
18. PJ Larsen – KTM
19. Levi Kilbarger
20. Darryn Durham