ANAHEIM, Calif. (Jan. 4) - "Starts" are going to be the focus for GEICO Honda's Supercross Lites West riders when the AMA Monster Energy season opens Saturday night at Angel Stadium.
Eli Tomac is looking for a fast start and Wil Hahn is looking for a fresh one.
Tomac nearly won the Lites West title in his rookie season a year ago, but a 10th place finish at Anaheim 1 put him in a hole early. Meanwhile, Hahn lost the entire Supercross season after suffering a back injury during practice in the traditional season opener a year ago, his first race with GEICO Honda.
Team manager Mike LaRocco has been watching both riders' progress through the winter and said he's been impressed with their progress.
"I feel real good about both those guys," LaRocco said. "They both looked really solid and were running fast times. We've had a few runs together in the off-season. Wil was a little slow at first but he's peaked at the right time. Tomac has been strong throughout and he looks to be at a peak himself for the start of the season."
With a year of experience under his belt, Tomac said the rookie jitters that got in his way at the start of last year will be a thing of the past, clearing the way for what he hopes will be a championship run.
"I'm going into this first round more ready, more relaxed," he said. "I know what to expect when I roll into that stadium. It's going to be one of those things where experience definitely helps.
"You want to try to be on the podium every weekend. You can't afford to have any of these off rounds."
Hahn said he is feeling like himself again after a rash of injuries, most notably a back injury suffered in Anaheim last year, that ultimately limited his racing to just a handful of outdoor races.
"I'm feeling really good right now," Hahn said. "I'm looking forward to some redemption. It's been a long time since I've raced. I did my homework in the offseason and got strong again. It's amazing how much you lose when you can't lift more than 10 pounds for three months. I've used this offseason to get both stronger as a person and stronger as a rider.
"I am looking forward to getting back out there and get back a lot of the stuff I missed out on last year. We've done our preparation, now it's time to go have fun with it."
With both riders confident, LaRocco said the team has been focusing on making sure the riders are comfortable on their new GEICO Honda CRF250R bikes.
"We've been working with them a lot on bike setup," LaRocco said. "They have to be comfortable about the bike they are going to push to the limits every lap. All that seems to have gone pretty well. The bikes look good underneath them.
"Once we get to the races, both these guys should be solid."
Practice at Angel Stadium of Anaheim gets under way at 12:30 p.m. PST on Saturday with Opening Ceremonies scheduled to start at 7 p.m. SPEED TV will broadcast the season opener live starting a 10 p.m. EST.