Impact Canopy

This Week in Monster Energy SX: Roczen Seeking to Go Three for Four in Oakland

| 23 January 2015 5:21 pm

Monster Energy Supercross Series
Round 4: O.co Coliseum

Courtesy of Feld Motor Sports
Photos by Brown Dog Wilson, Simon Cudby and Hoppenworld
OAKLAND, CA, JAN. 23, 2015

Three races into the 17-race Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, season, RCH Soaring Eagle/ Jimmy John’s Factory Suzuki’s Ken Roczen, who hails from Germany, has made a big statement toward determining “#WhosNext.” The sophomore 450SX-class competitor has earned a pair of wins in three races, including an undefeated record at Angel Stadium, and brings a double-digit points lead into this weekend’s first of two visits to California’s Bay Area, at Oakland’s O.co Coliseum. Meanwhile, in the Western Regional 250SX-class Championship, Yamalube/ Star Racing Yamaha rider Cooper Webb backed up his first career win with another victory last Saturday night in Anaheim, California, taking control of the points lead.

Fox Sports 1 will air the Oakland race live at 7 p.m. PT/ 10 p.m. ET. Coverage from Oakland will also be available on the authenticated Fox Sports GO app.

450SX Class
For the first time in 2015, Roczen did not lead the opening lap of the 450SX main event, but he had taken over the top spot by lap two, and he checked out on the rest of the field to lead the final 19 laps of the 20-lap race. Through three races, Roczen has led 52 of 60 laps (that 87 percent!) and carries a 12-point lead into this weekend’s visit to the Bay Area, which will present the most unique track conditions of the season thus far.

The 450SX-class points leader, Ken Roczen (94), in action at the second Anaheim round. Photo by Brown Dog Wilson

The 450SX-class points leader, Ken Roczen (94), in action at the second Anaheim round. Photo by Brown Dog Wilson

“I feel great about this weekend,” said Roczen. “I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing and work on getting my body better. I’m still not 100 percent, but it felt great to get another win last week at Anaheim, and I’m going to fight hard again when we get to Oakland.”

Roczen’s RCH Racing teammate Broc Tickle capped off arguably the strongest effort in the team’s history in Anaheim by earning a season-best fifth-place finish. Tickle capitalized on a strong start to put himself in the front portion of the field early on and then maintained a consistent pace to put two Suzukis inside the top five.

“I’m really looking forward to racing in Oakland this weekend,” said Tickle. “I got the second win of my career in Oakland, and I love the dirt there. That’s one reason why I like it. The year I won, it rained a little bit, so it was wet and sloppy. I’m just really looking forward to it. I’m coming off a good weekend at Anaheim, so I’m going to keep on focusing on my starts and keep doing the things I’ve been doing. The goal this weekend is to back up [his finish in] Anaheim.”

Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey also grabbed his best result of 2015 with a runner-up effort, behind Roczen. Dungey faced a multiple-second deficit to the points leader and was closing in until the pair hit lappers. While he was hoping to put the KTM on top of the podium, Dungey inserted himself into second in the 450SX-class points standings with the result and is feeling confident coming into Oakland.

“I know I still have some work to do, but I was a lot happier with this result,” stated Dungey. “I was happy to be on the podium and one step closer to that top spot.”

Continuing the trend of season-best efforts, Red Bull KTM rookie Dean Wilson overcame his slow start to the season by breaking through with a solid top-10 effort in Anaheim. The Scotsman fought hard with a large group of riders throughout the main event and in the end he brought home an eighth-place finish to get his momentum headed in the right direction. Wilson finished second in the 250SX class a year ago in Oakland, nearly coming away with a victory.

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The impressive start to his 450SX-class career continued for Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson. While a seventh-place finish wasn’t the result Anderson was ultimately hoping for, considering he was forced to overcome getting caught up in a crash on the opening lap, it was the kind of resilient effort that a rookie should be proud of. Anderson sits third in the 450SX-class standings and took the win in Oakland last season in the 250SX class.

“My night in Anaheim was not too good, but it was all right,” said Anderson. “Practice was just normal, but when it came to game time, I felt like I was up there and then I just had some unfortunate luck. I’m just going to try and keep moving forward and doing what I’m doing.”

GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac continued his climb from a 20th-place start to the season by securing his second straight podium result in Anaheim, just one week after earning the first 450SX-class win of his career. Tomac started deep inside the top 10 but found a way to move forward, ultimately settling into third, behind Dungey, and moving up another three spots in the points standings, to fourth.

“I want to work on putting myself in a better position early on,” Tomac said. “I’ve learned that the heat-race finish is super important to how the main event goes. Knowing that, I need to be more aggressive if I am further back in the pack in those heats. I think the Oakland race will be a good challenge for everyone. It could be a game-changer for the season as well. I’ve had success there before and I’m hoping for similar results again. At this point, podium finishes and wins are almost a necessity.”

Team Honda’s Trey Canard had a difficult night in Anaheim that was marred by a pair of incidents with Chad Reed. While battling for fourth, Canard made contact with Reed off a jump and took both riders down. After remounting, Reed made contact with Canard again, forcing the Honda rider to the ground for a second time. With his bike banged up, Canard charged through to the finish and salvaged an 11th-place result. He now sits fifth in the 450SX-class standings.

Chad Reed (22) and Trey Canard (41) during the main event last weekend in Anaheim. Photo by Simon Cudby

Chad Reed (22) and Trey Canard (41) during the main event last weekend in Anaheim. Photo by Simon Cudby

“Altogether, Anaheim was a frustrating night,” said Canard. “Once again, I didn’t get the start I was hoping for, but I was riding well. I made some good passes and was working my way forward. I was behind Chad Reed, and when he went outside in that one corner, I figured he’d go outside again. I carried too much momentum and landed on him, going down really hard. I got back up and was adjusting my goggles when out of nowhere I got hit and crashed again. I tried to get it together at the end, but it was too late to do much. It was a frustrating night, but I feel like I’m riding good and am healthy, so I’m thankful for that.”

Canard’s rookie Team Honda teammate left Anaheim as the highest-finishing rider for the squad. Seely’s season has gotten off to a sluggish start, but he was a fixture inside the top 10 in Anaheim, and he ultimately finished sixth. It was Seely’s best result of 2015, and he closed in on the top 10 in points.

“It was good to finally get a result that I earned; even with the crash, I came back from 10th to sixth, so I feel I dealt with the nerves better and rode really well overall,” said Seely. “I hit all my marks each lap, and my fitness was there until late in the race. I did get into an incident with another rider, and I feel like there are better things to do out there than take each other out. I was pretty furious when I got off the ground, but I kept riding well. I feel like I have a really good base to build off of now. It’s a stacked field out there, and we’re all going really fast. It’s a lot to think about, but I handled it a lot better this weekend.”

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Autotrader.com/ Toyota/ Yamaha’s Justin Barcia was in need of a strong run in Anaheim, and he appeared to be the rider to beat after topping the charts in practice. In the main event, the third-year rider got shuffled to deep inside the top 10, but he put on a charge and climbed his way into the top five, narrowly missing out on the podium, in fourth. It was Barcia’s best finish of the season and moved him into sixth in points.

Barcia’s fellow Autotrader.com/ Toyota/ Yamaha rider Weston Peick was hoping a broken foot wouldn’t keep him from building off a career-best finish the week prior. However, after attempting to ride through the pain in practice, Peick was unable to continue, and he will be sidelined for the time being. Phil Nicoletti is set to replace Peick.

BTO Sports KTM’s Andrew Short got another strong start in Anaheim, but he crashed hard on the opening lap. While Short was able to walk away, he did record a DNF and now sits ninth in the 450SX-class standings. He’ll be looking to bounce back on Saturday.

“It’s not the way you want to end a night,” said Short. “I hit the deck hard, but I am at least healthy. The team is working hard and will come back to fight another day.”

Short’s BTO teammate Justin Brayton also endured misfortune, and it will cause him to miss races. Brayton crashed hard in the whoops early in the night and suffered a multitude of fractures, which will keep him on the sidelines for the time being.

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Davi Millsaps put himself up front early in the Anaheim main event, leading the first lap, but after a few laps the veteran began to lose positions. Millsaps fought hard throughout all 20 laps and was able to bring home a top-10 result, in ninth.

“I’m ready to get to Oakland,” said Millsaps. “I had a tough night in Anaheim and am looking forward to a football stadium. We keep making moves in the right direction. We’re here to win.”

Discount Tire Racing/TwoTwo Motorsports’ Reed was given a black flag in Anaheim following his second incident with Canard. As a result, Reed was disqualified from the race and received no points, dropping to 15th in the standings. Reed finished third in Oakland a year ago and will be looking to bounce back from Anaheim in a big way.

250SX Class
Cooper Webb has been on a tear the last two weeks, and that’s the reason why he’s climbed from seventh to first in the points during that period. His win in Anaheim came as the result of a last-lap pass, and now he has considerable momentum coming into Oakland, as well as possession of the red plate as the championship leader for the very first time.

Western Regional 250SX-class main-event winner Cooper Webb (17). Photo by Hoppenworld

Western Regional 250SX-class main-event winner Cooper Webb (17). Photo by Hoppenworld

“Anaheim was an awesome weekend for me; I was able to win my first heat race of the season, which set me up nice for the main event,” said Webb. “In the main event, I got off to a bad start and came through the pack and put my head down and just started charging and kept going. I had a nice battle with [Justin] Hill to get into second, and then [Tyler] Bowers was out front and I knew I had to put my head down and catch him. I was able to make a really good pass on the last lap with two turns to go to be able to win, which was unbelievable! You know, [it was] definitely a picture-perfect race, as far as excitement and stuff like that [go], so I was very excited about that.”

Webb’s Yamalube/ Star Racing Yamaha teammate Aaron Plessinger was hoping for continued consistency to start his rookie season, but he finished outside the top 10 for the first time. Plessinger brought home a 13th-place finish but still sits solidly in sixth in the Western Regional standings.

“Anaheim didn’t go too smooth for me,” Plessinger confessed. “I was kind of struggling all day, but I went out in the heat race and put down some fast laps and got into a fourth position for the line-up of the main event. I went out for the main event and got a good jump and kind of got pinched off. I was in the back, trying to catch up. Then I had a little get-off and went way back. That whole lap, I just kind of messed up again, and then cased a jump, went off the track, and just kind of slowed down, got regrouped and went back at it and charged back to 12th or 13th and that was that. I’m coming into Oakland with a high head and high hopes and I am going to try my best and do my best and hopefully I’m going to get up on that podium, where I belong.”

Monster Energy/ Pro Circuit/ Kawasaki’s Tyler Bowers was the victim of Webb’s last-lap pass, but the four-time AMSOIL Arenacross Champion took his runner-up finish in stride. Bowers sits second in the points and is on the cusp of earning his first win of the season, which he hopes will come on Saturday in Oakland.

“I was really close to getting the win in Anaheim,” said Bowers. “I worked on starts this week, because my main-event starts haven’t been great, and it only makes my job harder to come from a bad start. I don’t plan on letting a win slip away like that again.”

Rookie Pro Circuit rider Chris Alldredge was enjoying his best performance of the 2015 season in Anaheim following a slow start to the season. However, while running fifth, Alldredge suffered a hard crash that took him out of action. He walked away no worse for wear and hopes to be better in Oakland.

“I continue to learn from every race,” said Alldredge. “I ran up front and felt comfortable and now just need to do that for 15 laps. We worked on that this week, and riding under pressure. Oakland should be fun.”

Troy Lee Designs/ Lucas Oil/ Red Bull/ KTM’s Jessy Nelson appeared to have the Anaheim main event in his control and to be potentially on his way to a second win inside Angel Stadium, but he suffered a crash while leading. Nelson recovered well and was able to finish sixth, but he lost the points lead as a result and now sits tied with Bowers for second. Nelson has learned from the misfortune and intends to come out swinging in Oakland.

Troy Lee Designs/ Lucas Oil /Red Bull/ KTM rider Shane McElrath had hopes of a season-best effort in Anaheim, but an incident with Josh Hansen left McElrath on the ground and in recovery mode. He fought his way back toward the front and salvaged a 10th-place effort. He’s currently eighth in the Western Regional standings.

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Zach Osborne has been dealing with a broken thumb sustained at the opening race, but with each passing week he appears to be improving. Starts have been the key to Osborne’s success this season, despite his not being fully healthy. After leading the early stages of the main event in Anaheim, Osborne was able to convert that start into a fourth-place finish. He also sits fourth in the points.

“Anaheim was good, I had speed all day in practice; I posted the fastest time, which gave me first gate pick going into the night,” said Osborne. “The night was okay. I had a bit of an issue with my thumb in the heat race when my hand kind of blew off the bars. I came back, iced it, got it as good as I could, and basically just toughed it out in the main. It’s a rough situation, but it’s getting better day by day and I feel like we’re headed in the right direction, for sure. My fitness is good and my bike is good, so I just need to be able to get some more laps in during the week when I can.”

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Red Bull KTM’s Justin Hill made his first trip to the podium in Anaheim, appearing to be over the illness that held him back during the first two races. Hill’s confidence is growing, and he’ll enter Oakland as the highest-finishing rider from the previous year, when he finished third. Hill has hopes of breaking through for his first win of 2015 on Saturday, improving upon his fifth-place standing in the championship.

“I am making progress every weekend and getting stronger each race,” stated Hill. “I felt really good [in Anaheim] and feel I am getting closer to working toward my first win. I am grateful to my team for all of their support and looking forward to the next round in Oakland.”

GEICO Honda’s Malcolm Stewart finished fifth in Anaheim and is continuing to dial in his motorcycle. If Stewart can get a good start, he knows he’ll have the chance to battle for the win and a spot on the podium, so he’ll be looking to do just that on Saturday.

“I rode smarter [in Anaheim], even when I got frustrated,” Stewart said. “The only problem is that I lost a little bit of that intensity in my riding again. Clearly I need to work on finding a better balance. I did what I needed to do, [though]: I gained points. I beat a good portion of the guys that were ahead of me in the points standings coming into tonight. If I can continue to do that, we’ll be right back in it, for sure.”

For more information on the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, please log on to www.SupercrossLive.com, the official website of Monster Energy Supercross.

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