The 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship made its second and final stop in the state of California on Saturday for round two of the 12-race championship series. The 450 Class saw an all-new winner as rookie Ken Roczen captured his first career victory in the premier class, while Minnesota’s Jeremy Martin extended his winning-streak to two-in-a-row at the 46th running of the GoPro Hangtown Motocross Classic.
After last weekend’s season opener at southern California’s Glen Helen Raceway, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey held the early points lead in the 450 Class, but his team-mate Ken Roczen trailed close behind with a pair of second place finishes in his 450 Class debut.
The two were poised to do battle at Hangtown but Roczen heightened the pace to a level that the veteran Dungey just couldn’t match on Saturday.
And it all began in the morning’s timed qualifying sessions, where Roczen laid down the fastest lap in qualifying and had the luxury of first gate choice in Moto 1. Roczen would soon build off that momentum in Moto 1, but first it was the two-time 450 Class Champion of Dungey that earned the MotoSport.com Holeshot Award before Roczen stole back the lead on the opening lap.
Roczen created a gap over Dungey that couldn’t be matched in the first moto, en route to his first career Pro Motocross 450 Class moto win. Behind Dungey was Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard, who jumped in behind the KTM duo early on. Canard was followed by his team-mate Justin Barcia in fourth, while Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart rounded out the top five in Moto 1.
In Moto 2, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer claimed the MotoSport.com Holeshot, immediately followed by his team-mate, Brett Metcalfe. Metcalfe wasted no time in getting himself out front, followed by Justin Barcia, Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey. Metcalfe and Barcia went back and forth for the lead early on but Roczen eventually staked his claim on the lead and never looked back.
Dungey followed suit, where he quickly settled into the second place position behind Roczen. Despite a valiant charge, the round one winner finished in the runner-up position, where he surrendered his early points lead after two rounds of racing.
Dunge said: “Today was pretty good, I got good starts which helped out. The first and second moto kind of played out the same, got into second and Kenny [Roczen] was riding really well today. I know I can improve in a few little areas, but overall it wasn’t too bad. It’s going to be a long year.”
It was a big day for Roczen and the KTM brand, as the world champion from Germany earned his first career overall in the 450 Class, giving KTM its first 450 Class win at Hangtown throughout the event’s 46-year history. As the 2013 250 Class winner as well, Roczen adds his name to a select list of riders to ever win the Hangtown Motocross Classic in both classes. Roczen will carry the red number plate background and the points lead into round three next Saturday.
“I really had a good time out there,” K-Roc said. “It was good racing, I don’t think I have anything to complain about. I always have done well at Hangtown and I have good memories here. This weekend I was comfortable on the bike and once you have that little bit you need, it’s going good.”
As the second moto wore on, the racing action became more intense as former 450 Class Champion James Stewart began pushing his way through the pack, eventually getting around Metcalfe and Barcia for third. And Canard soon followed, making up nine positions to overtake fourth place from Barcia by the end of the second moto. Canard ran down Stewart on the final lap and although he wasn’t able to make the pass on Stewart in Moto 2, the Shawnee, Oklahoma native was able to secure third overall with 3-4 moto scores with an impressive charge in the second moto.
“I was trying to do the best that I could and I got more and more comfortable as the race went on,” Canard said. “It feels good to ride a motorcycle that you’re comfortable on and having fun. Every point is going to count come August so I’m going to make the best of every moment while I’m out there.”
Stewart finished the day with 5-3 moto scores to capture fourth overall for the day, followed by Barcia in sixth with 4-5 scores. California native Westin Peick put in a season-best sixth place finish aboard his RCH Racing/Soaring Eagle Suzuki.
It was once again a marquee day for Factory Yamaha racing in the 250 Class, as the brand swept all three positions on the overall podium. Coming off Yamaha’s first 250 Class victory in exactly one decade at the opening round, Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin once again led the way with his second straight victory-and 1-1 sweep-of 2014.
“This is what I’ve been focusing on,” Martin said. “Great motos today, my teammate and I went 1-2 and the Yamahas were strong. It was pretty cool for Yamaha that we swept the podium. I don’t think it’s been done in a long time.”
Martin was once again joined atop the podium by his Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha teammate Cooper Webb, who seemingly picked up where he left off as a front-runner at the opening round.
In the first moto, Webb battled with GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle for the second place spot, a battle that sent the Newport, North Carolina rider to the ground once. Webb bounced back, though, eventually passing Bogle to capture second place in Moto 1. There was no catching Martin, though, as he gapped the rest of the field by nearly 20 seconds.
GEICO Honda’s Zach Bell captured the MotoSport.com Holeshot in the first moto, where he hung on for a top five finish behind Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Justin Hill, who took fourth in Moto 1.
While he’s been extremely close in the first three races, Martin captured his first MotoSport.com Holeshot of the season in Moto 2, where he led every lap start to finish. The top two positions unfolded just as they did in the first moto, but the turn of events came in the third place position with Valli Motorsports/Yamaha’s Christophe Pourcel. Pourcel, who hasn’t raced a full season of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross since 2011 in the 450 Class, captured a season-best third place finish in Moto 2, which was good enough to earn the Frenchmen third overall for the day.
Justin Hill put forth a consistent effort to capture fourth overall with 4-6 moto scores, while California native Jessy Nelson rounded out the top five with moto finishes of 7-5 aboard his Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Honda machine.
Round 3 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship heads to Lakewood, Colorado for the Toyota Thunder Valley National on Saturday, June 7.