nclement weather during the 2019 AMA Supercross season opener at Anaheim’s Angel Stadium didn’t dampen the excitement for Team Honda HRC. In tricky, muddy conditions, Ken Roczen rode his CRF450R smoothly and methodically to secure a second-place finish.
When the gate dropped for the main event, Roczen bobbled and briefly came together with another rider, dropping him toward the back. He recovered brilliantly by sneaking to the inside in the first turn and salvaging a sixth-place start, then charged up to fourth place in just a few laps. At the halfway point, the German capitalized on another rider’s mistake to move into podium contention. He still wasn’t finished, setting his sights on second-place Dean Wilson, and he quickly began closing the gap. Roczen eventually made the pass on lap 16, then took the checkered flag in second.
The night also marked the return of Cole Seely, who had been sidelined by injury for nearly nine months. The Californian had to shake off some nerves, but he still managed to put together a solid performance in the challenging conditions, eventually finishing 10th on the night.
- On Friday night, Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen and Cole Seely were joined by GEICO Honda’s RJ Hampshire and Cameron McAdoo at Bert’s Mega Mall for the first dealer appearance of the season, where they spent time signing autographs and hanging out with fans.
- Other than two pre-season events overseas, Saturday marked the first race for Jordan Troxell as Seely’s mechanic with Team Honda HRC. “My first race here at Honda was awesome,” Troxell said. “Honda has a deep field of technicians and personnel who are willing to pitch in and help, which came in handy since we opened the season with a mudder. It was cool for me to work with everyone, get my feet wet—literally—and see how the team operates on race day. I still don’t really know where anything is in the truck, so the days before, I was just opening drawers!”
- As has been the case for the past few years, American Honda had a huge setup for race fans in the Supercross Pit Party for the opening round. The area included two learn-to-ride areas, which had certified instructors on hand to assist and give pointers to anyone participating. In a camping-themed environment that included an Attitude trailer, much of the CRF lineup was on display, including the CRF450L and CRF250RX. Additionally, the all-new Talon 1000R and 1000X sport side-by-sides were on hand so that the Anaheim fans could get their first look. Attendees even had the opportunity to ride alongside Roczen in the Talon, thanks to a virtual reality simulator.
- With so much competition in the 450SX class, times were tight throughout the daytime qualifying practice. At the end of two sessions, MotoConcept Honda’s Justin Brayton was the fastest Red Rider, securing the fourth-best time with a 54.698″ lap. Roczen was eighth-quickest at 55.027″, while teammate Seely was 12th with a 55.380″.
- Roczen started the night program on the right foot, earning the win in the first heat race, with Seely just off the podium in fourth. Also impressive was MotoConcept Honda’s Malcolm Stewart, who finished the second heat in the runner-up spot.
- In his first-ever 450SX appearance at Anaheim, Stewart impressed everyone by running second for over half of the 20-minute-plus-one-lap main event. Unfortunately, the deteriorating track conditions led to Stewart sliding out in a slick turn and losing multiple positions. He maintained fourth until another mishap pushed him back to seventh, where he finished.
- The Honda CRF450R was the bike of choice for seven riders in the main event, more than any other manufacturer.
- GEICO Honda’s RJ Hampshire had a decent showing in the 250 West main event, finishing in fourth place. Teammate Cameron McAdoo was just outside the top 10 after spending the first few laps in the top five.
- To help raise money for injured riders, American Honda has teamed up with Road 2 Recovery by donating a 2019 CRF450R Works Edition, with the VIN number ending in 94. From now until the Supercross finale in Las Vegas on May 4, fans can purchase $5 tickets to put themselves in the running to win not only this incredible motorcycle—inspired by Roczen’s factory race machine—but also an autographed set of Ken’s Fox gear. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.R2Rhonda94raffle.com.
- On January 12, the Red Riders take on round two of the AMA Supercross series in Glendale, Arizona. On Friday, the riders will take part in a dealer appearance at RideNow Powersports in Peoria from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
“It’s good to get out of here healthy and with a solid podium. The conditions were tough; they can obviously play in your favor but they can also bite you bad. For about half of the main, we were still jumping the big doubles in the middle but it was definitely sloppy and sketchy out there. It was really all about consistency. There were ruts everywhere so you had to try not to make any mistakes. Once we got into the lappers that’s when it got really bad. I got held up a couple times, which cost me time. I’m pumped though; I’m leaving with a heat-race win and second in the main, so I couldn’t have asked for a better first race.”
“It felt so good to get back to racing. I was so nervous and excited at the same time, but also so happy to line up again. Normally 10th is something I’d be disappointed in, and I was a little bummed at first but after putting it into perspective and considering the conditions, I’m happy with it and just excited to be back. I’m looking forward to the process and to just building on my finishes each week.”
Erik Kehoe: Team Manager
“The worst thing about today was the weather. Looking at it overall, we’re getting out of here with good results; I think both guys met their goals, and most importantly we’re healthy—that’s definitely something positive to start this series with. It could’ve been a lot worse, considering the conditions. For Ken to come away with a podium is great. He rode smart, minimized mistakes on a tricky track, and came out in second. I think a top 10 for Cole is also good. I know he had some nerves throughout the day, but with every lap in practice and even in his heat, you could tell he was getting more and more comfortable. It was a great stepping stone for him to race those two overseas events but the landscape of the competition and tracks is much different; today was his first real gate drop, and I think we’re going to continue to see his confidence grow and speed increase each weekend.”
Oscar Wirdeman: Mechanic (Ken Roczen)
“Today was good. Ken won his heat race and got second in the main, even with the sketchy conditions, so it’s awesome to leave with a podium. We were playing around all day with minor bike changes because everything can be great at the test track but then you come to a race and things are always a bit different. We need to work on some better starts for next week and hopefully make a few small bike improvements, then build on that.”
Jordan Troxell: Mechanic (Cole Seely)
“Let’s be real, Cole was off the bike for eight months, so we knew he was going to have some nerves coming into today. We kind of made goals that didn’t necessarily include putting a number on the finishing position. We wanted to get good starts, which unfortunately didn’t happen, but more than anything, we wanted Cole to just get into battle, feel the pace and get back to racing. I think that’s what we did, so I’m happy. In his heat, he started off a little slow but after the first few laps you could see him start to get comfortable and click off some good laps and make a few passes. The main event ended up being a mud race. He didn’t get a good start, so he made life hard on himself. He did what he could, coming back to 10th and then hung out there for the last half of the race. It’s a long series and I think this was a good first race to build on.”
1. Justin Barcia
2. Ken Roczen
3. Eli Tomac
4. Dean Wilson
5. Cooper Webb
6. Aaron Plessinger
7. Malcolm Stewart
8. Marvin Musquin
9. Chad Reed
10. Cole Seely
11. Justin Brayton
13. Vince Friese
450SX Championship Points (after 1 of 17 rounds)
1. Justin Barcia 26
2. Ken Roczen 23
3. Eli Tomac 21
4. Dean Wilson 19
5. Cooper Webb 18
6. Aaron Plessinger 17
7. Malcolm Stewart 16
8. Marvin Musquin 15
9. Chad Reed 14
10. Cole Seely 13
Words and images courtesy Honda