This weekend marked round eight of the AMA Pro Motocross series, at Millville, Minnesota’s Spring Creek MX Park, where Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen rode strong aboard his CRF450R, leading over half of the first moto en route to an exciting second-place overall result, via 2-3 finishes.
When the gate dropped in moto one, Roczen rocketed his No. 94 machine down the start straight, taking the holeshot and lead. Within the first few laps, the German had already pulled a small gap on the riders behind him. He came under fire at the halfway mark but fought hard to hold off the advances. It was a game of cat-and-mouse for much of the remaining 30-minute-plus-two-lap-race until lapped riders began to pose a challenge. While charging through the sand whoops, Roczen was held up by another rider, enabling Eli Tomac to sneak by. Roczen was unable to mount a counterattack and took the checkered flag in second. In moto two, Roczen turned in another solid start, coming around the first turn in third and then sneaking into second while charging down the big downhill on the opening lap. With 15 minutes remaining, a mistake allowed Tomac to close in, and a heated battle ensued. The two diced back and forth for some time before Roczen was overtaken and then went on to finish third.
Ken Roczen started the day on a solid note, riding well during the morning qualifying practice to secure the third-quickest time, with a 2’13.438” lap.
Following the Spring Creek National, Roczen flew directly to the West Coast, where he will spend this week testing with Team Honda HRC in California. “The bottom line and overall goal for testing this week is to make Ken even more comfortable so he can continue to ride that race pace for longer,” said team manager Erik Kehoe. “We’ll be out at the track twice this week, building and refining our current settings, as well as trying a few different things.”
With his solid second-overall finish, Roczen maintains fourth overall in the championship standings with 288 points, eight behind third with four rounds remaining.
It will be a short week for the Team Honda HRC crew as they head to Washington State’s Washougal MX Park on Friday for designated press day, where Roczen will talk with local media and ride the track during two 20-minute sessions. On Friday evening, he and the GEICO Honda squad will make an appearance at Pro Caliber Motorsports in Vancouver to sign autographs and meet fans, starting at 6 p.m.
“I’m pretty happy with today. I think this is one of the best weekends we’ve had overall. I felt comfortable all day and had a lot of fun. I did pretty good in qualifying, got good starts, and felt like I was flying in the first moto, so I’m happy with second. Obviously, in the second moto, there wasn’t enough left in the tank, but we have to just keep building from here. We made another small adjustment on the bike, but nothing major. The team and I are still working to refine the bike because this is my first season riding it outdoors and I came into it without much testing, so I’m searching for what works best. We’ve definitely made the bike better and I think it showed today. Normally I’m 4-5 seconds behind in qualifying practice and I was pretty close today, so it was good. I’m doing what I can and am enjoying the process of returning. I feel like once we win again, it’ll just be that much sweeter.”
Erik Kehoe: Team Manager
“I think today was an even better second place than last time. Ken’s starts are on point, he led more laps, and his intensity level was higher for longer. I think he’s just getting stronger each week and starting to build on his momentum, so it was definitely a great day and progress in the right direction. The intensity level in the races is so much higher than training during the week, so right now Ken is still racing himself into race shape. He just needs to continue to get good starts and be in the hunt up front each week, and we’ll continue to see him on the podium.”
Oscar Wirdeman: Mechanic (Ken Roczen)
“I feel like we’re starting to see more and more of the old Ken Roczen coming out each weekend. He’s getting stronger, battling longer, and consistently up front, which is awesome to see. Today was a good day and Ken was happy with his bike. We made a few small clicker adjustments throughout the day, but overall he was happy so that was nice.”
1) Eli Tomac (1-1)
2) Ken Roczen (2-3)
3) Marvin Musquin (4-2)
4) Blake Baggett (3-4)
5) Justin Barcia (5-5)
6) Weston Peick (6-6)
7) Cooper Webb (7-7)
8) Justin Hill (10-7)
9) Phil Nicoletti (8-10)
10) Benny Bloss (11-8)
450MX Championship Points (after 8 of 12 rounds)
1) Eli Tomac 351
2) Marvin Musquin 344
3) Justin Barcia 296
4) Ken Roczen 288
5) Blake Baggett 270
6) Weston Peick 223
7) Benny Bloss 199
8) Phil Nicoletti 196
9) Justin Hill 114
10) Kyle Cunningham 107
Text and image courtesy Honda.