Despite hot temperatures and high humidity, the AMA Pro Motocross Championship’s Budds Creek National saw Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen put together a solid performance, securing his second moto victory of the season on his way to finishing second overall.
In moto one, Roczen got a poor jump out of the gate but charged down the start-straight to sneak into the inside of the first turn, coming out in second. The German quickly moved into the lead, taking advantage of a clear track to lay down consistent laps and open up a small gap on second. Toward the end of the 30-minute-plus-two-lap race, Roczen maintained his composure up front while fending off multiple pass attempts, then laid down a final charge to open up a 13.8 second lead by the checkered flag. When the gate fell on the final moto, Roczen got off to a sixth-place start but advanced to third by the completion of the opening lap. He continued his charge, moving into second and then closing in on the leader, looking for an opportune time to strike. On lap five, he made an impressive pass into the lead and quickly opened a multi-second gap on the riders behind him. Roczen looked smooth up front but was unable to maintain his pace throughout the entire race, relegating the lead on lap 12, before losing one more position by the end of the race.
- The day started slowly for Ken Roczen, as he struggled in the day’s first qualifying practice before finding his stride in the second session, posting the fifth-quickest time with a 2’06.117″ lap.
- Roczen’s HRC Teammate Toshiki Tomita also had a noteworthy day, scoring a fourth-place start in the day’s first moto before falling back to 15th. In the second moto, the Japanese rider got off to a mediocre start, but was able to work his way up to 11th to wrap up 13th overall.
- With his strong second-place overall performance at Budds Creek, Roczen regained control of third in the championship standings, with 403 points.
- It was a day of celebration for the GEICO Honda squad, as team veteran RJ Hampshire rode flawlessly all day to score not only his career-first moto win, but also his first-ever 250MX overall victory. With a solid second in moto one, Hampshire came into true form during the final race, securing a strong start before taking over the lead on lap five. He put together strong and consistent laps, riding unchallenged all the way to the checkered flag. Hampshire wasn’t the only Red Rider on the 250MX podium, with teammate Chase Sexton emerging second overall with 7-2 marks. This marks the rookie’s second podium finish of the season. Cameron McAdoo landed 15th.
- Next weekend, Team Honda HRC heads to the Ironman MX in Crawfordsville, Indiana, for the final round of the 2018 AMA Pro Motocross series. On Friday, Roczen will participate in the pre-race press conference to discuss his successful season, before hitting the track for two 20-minute riding sessions. Later that evening, the HRC crew will also celebrate the season with a team BBQ at the track.
“The first moto was great. I had a good battle with Marvin [Musquin] going through most the race and once there were only five laps left, I just told myself that I better pull this off and get the win. I was trying to just keep it steady, but if Marvin was still close behind me, I was going to try and put on a charge the last couple laps; luckily I didn’t really have to. It was my shot at the overall today, but unfortunately I got sick halfway through the week and definitely wasn’t feeling it this morning and it caught up with me in the second moto. I just ran out of steam at the end and let those guys get by me. I gave it my all out there and unfortunately it wasn’t enough for the overall again, but I just want to get this season over with healthy and giving each race all that I have—today, that was it. We’re going to take what we’ve learned to regroup for this off-season, and come back to crush it next year. I’m happy with where I’m at this season, but at the same time, I’m a winner and I want to win. I try to put it into perspective because I was here last year hurt and I would’ve taken a day of racing sick and in the heat over anything, so to be back a year later fighting for wins and getting second overall is pretty dang good.”
Erik Kehoe: Team Manager
“After struggling last weekend in the mud, it’s great to have Ken back on the podium today. He fought hard in the first moto to get that win and it meant a lot to not only him but the team as well. He’s been doing so good this season that we’ve come to expect him to be up front and battling, but I’m really happy with how Ken’s stuck to the plan this season. He’s stayed patient while building and learning each week. It’s already been a great season, so we’re looking forward to ending on a solid note next weekend in Indiana and to start focusing on 2019.”
Oscar Wirdeman: Mechanic (Ken Roczen)
“Today’s moto win means way more because even though a win is a win, this one was straight up, with Ken fighting for it from start to finish. At Red Bud, [Eli] Tomac’s bike broke and Marvin [Musquin] crashed, so we kind of got lucky. I’m surprised, but I’m not. I knew he could do it but with how he was feeling today I didn’t know he’d be able to pull it off. He started this morning off a little under the weather, so he struggled in the first practice but got it together for the second session and was able to qualify fifth. He got a pretty bad jump in the first moto but was really strong down the start-straight, coming out in second, which was impressive. He got into the lead and rode good the whole race. I honestly expected him to get a little tired by the end just because he wasn’t feeling great but he actually put together one of his faster laps of the race in the final few laps. The second moto was about the same; he got a decent start, rode in the lead for most the race, then with about six laps to go he just ran out of steam. The others guy didn’t go faster, we just went slower. Bike-wise, we didn’t make too many adjustments to the suspension. We started with the shock from Washougal because he did so well there but after the first practice he thought it was too soft and wanted to go back to the one from Unadilla, which is a little stiffer. We weren’t completely sure how he’d like it here since he only got one dry practice on it in New York, but it ended up being better and he really liked it. Other than that, it was just some little fine tuning throughout the day.”
1) Eli Tomac (3-1)
2) Ken Roczen (1-3)
3) Marvin Musquin (2-4)
4) Blake Baggett (5-2)
5) Justin Barcia (6-5)
6) Phillip Nicoletti (7-6)
7) Cooper Webb (8-7)
8) Benny Bloss (9-8)
9) Dylan Merriam (12-10)
10) Weston Peick (14-11)
450MX Championship Points (after 11 of 12 rounds)
1) Eli Tomac 493
2) Marvin Musquin 473
3) Ken Roczen 403
4) Justin Barcia 394
5) Blake Baggett 370
6) Weston Peick 291
7) Phil Nicoletti 282
8) Benny Bloss 278
9) Kyle Cunningham 159
10) Cooper Webb 156
Words and image courtesy Honda