Following an injury to rider Justin Bogle, GEICO Honda has signed former team member Blake Wharton to run the 250SX East division in the 2014 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series.
Bogle was injured while training for the upcoming season and the team is hopeful he’ll be able to return when the East season starts on Feb. 15 at Dallas. Either way, team management wanted to make sure they fielded a full compliment of riders to compete for the championship.
“We’re confident Justin will bounce back in time but with Blake available we thought it was a good opportunity to hedge our bets a little in case Justin needs a couple of extra weeks to get back out there,” said GEICO Honda Team Manager Mike LaRocco.
Wharton rode for the GEICO Honda team from 2008 to 2011. Last year, Wharton finished third overall in the 250SX East championship standings, winning in Houston and finishing on the podium five times.
“I think it’s going to be fun,” Wharton said. “It feels like going home again. They’ve made a few changes since I was last on the team but other than those minor changes these are pretty much the same guys I’ve worked with in the past.
“I feel like the transition will be seamless, which really allows me to focus on what I need to do to be ready to race.”
Wharton will race the East regardless of Bogle’s timetable of return, which has Wharton full of confidence that he can make a championship run.
“I’ve had success with this team before,” Wharton said. “Over the last few years I’ve become a better rider and a better racer. I feel like I’ll be able to pull all that together to have that one strong year every rider dreams of.
“Even though I wasn’t on the team the last two years I’ve seen what GEICO Honda has done to grow and make their riders better. You get a lot of confidence when you go with a team that’s had that past success and is so committed to keeping their guys out front. You feel like you can be that next guy to have a championship-caliber year.”
The Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series gets under way on Jan. 4 at Angels Stadium of Anaheim in Anaheim, Calif.