Catching Up With Blake Wharton

Photo: Mark Hector

After running the first three years of his career on a Geico Honda, Blake Wharton finds himself starting 2012 with an entirely new program. But a new bike and team has not affected the long haired Lites racer’s style or results, as he has remained his consistent self. After two rounds and two fourth place finishes, we caught up with Blake to see what the season holds.

Now that you are two races in to the season, how would you say it as gone?

I feel like I have made some good improvements in my riding, but I’m not satisfied. And what I mean in that is I’m going to keep pushing until my results are where they need to be. Because at this point even though I have had some good speed, and had good moments, and been off the bike before these two races because my last race was St. Louis last year. I know that it takes a little while to get back in to your groove, but I feel good right now on the bike but my results haven’t been what I’d like to see them be. I know what I am capable of if I go out and perform the way I train to.

How do you feel on your new Suzuki?

I think the bike is great. I wasn’t with this team (Rockstar Suzuki) last year, but I have been with them long enough now to know that they have made some really good improvements over last year’s stuff. They put a lot of effort in to this bike and a lot of good things have been done to it. It is tough to find horsepower these days and there is a lot of competition with the good teams out there. But this team has put in a really good effort and they have equipped us with good bikes. And I know this, because I have gotten some good starts this year and I have ridden good bikes before, so I feel like the Suzuki has always suited me, because I rode them for several years in the amateurs and I have always liked them. I am happy with the bike and what the team has done for me, and now it is a matter of time for me to put in the results. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes longer than you would want, but I have taken away some good things in these last two races.

Did you come in to this year with a more aggressive mindset? It seems like this year, especially at Dallas, that every Lites rider on the track is bouncing off one another.

I think that the East happens to look pretty gnarly with dudes running in to each other for whatever reason. It is surprising because you never know what the first round will bring, and it came and went with dudes hitting each other and I got hit a couple times. I felt like I was riding aggressive and my style has gotten more aggressive. I am going out there to win races, and I haven’t won a race yet. We are two races in, but that is the goal. There is a certain amount of aggressive riding that is good and certain amount is overkill and unnecessary. Everyone else is pretty aggressive so you have to be. There is only so much you can let slide before you get in there and bang bars, too. In the amateur days and early on, my style was a little different than that, I would get good starts and was able to ride a certain way. Everyone finds and niche and sticks with that and some people win because they are fastest and some people win because they are smartest, and you have to have a mix of that. And as the season pushes forward I’m sure the aggressive riding isn’t done. You have to be ready for it because someone will hit you and you will go down, which is unacceptable. You have to be on your toes and prepared for anything with these guys, because there are some dudes that seem like they just like to hit stuff.

Photo: Jeff Kardas

In your heat race at Dallas, when you were getting bumped around, does it aggravate you and make you race harder or do you brush it off?

I think with it was the first round and everyone going, “Whoa, what’s going on here? I just got bumped.” But to say that it can bring me down, no, not really. Some you expect because you know a certain amount of that will happen. But I’m never really satisfied when I am getting bumped around, because that is not the goal. The goal is to win, and if I can go out in the next race and win, I have gotten my, not revenge but my redemption. I’m there to win the race, not play bumper cars with everyone. I would rather not see anyone on the track, just get the holeshot and leave them all (Laughs). But that is easier said than done, because there are a lot of fast guys. I feel like I have upped my pace, but the competition is always upping themselves. You just have to go with it.

While there have only been two races, you have been consistent in both and are currently third in points. You are fourteen points off of Justin Barcia, but now that you are coming in to St. Louis and other tracks that you are used to, how do you think these next few weeks will go?

A lot can change in one or two rounds, so it is really hard to say. I have done well at St. Louis before and I won my first and only Supercross there in 2009. I will go in with the same mindset I always have, but know that I have done well there before and that I can do it again. There is not much room for error in this class right now and you cannot go out and make fifteen mistakes and get away with it. A lot of guys are riding pretty clean laps and are putting fast laps down so consistency is key, but you have to have the speed and have to risk it every now and then. You have to run the fine of the two. I feel good going in to this weekend; it is the third round and I’m not going to rest until I get the results that I want.

You have been in the Lites class for four years now, but because you didn’t score any points in the Nationals last year, how much longer will you have Lites class eligibility?

It seems like the rules are always changing. “You can ride this long. No, wait, this is the age.” I don’t know what the rules are or what they will be next year. All I know is and the last I heard was it was a set amount of points each year for three years straight, then you point out. If you win a championship, you have one year to defend it and then you are out. My first year of Supercross, I didn’t point out because I missed it by two points. The second season I missed it by four, and then last year I missed it by a few because I didn’t race the last round at Vegas. So as of right now, I haven’t pointed out a year yet, so I have three years of Lites class left right now. But that is how it works now and we will see how the season goes for me. Hopefully you point out, because that means you are finishing high and I have been close the last few years. I like racing the 450, but I am content with the Lites class. I’d love to the 250 and 450 in the same night if they would let me. Just spread my heats out and I’ll do it (Laughs).