RCH Suzuki Factory Racing’s Ken Roczen increased his lead in the AMA/ FIM World Supercross series after finishing second in Saturday night’s Phoenix race at Chase Field in Arizona.
Fresh from his opening-round win last weekend in Anaheim, Roczen and the RCH Soaring Eagle/ Jimmy Johns/ Suzuki Factory Racing Team knew that a strong finish at Chase Field would be a key building-block in its mission to lay claim to the 2015 AMA Monster Energy Supercross Series 450 Supercross title.
Roczen didn’t disappoint, riding his Suzuki RM-Z450 to a runner-up finish in the second event of the season to stretch his points-lead to nine, as team-mate Broc Tickle overcame a dicey start and a mid-race miscue to finish 12th.
“We had a great night,” said Roczen. “The track was a lot trickier than it was last weekend. I got off to a great start and that definitely helped. I wasn’t feeling it before the Main Event and the track was definitely not the easiest. The first 10 laps were good racing and I just tried to play it safe. Eli (Tomac) beat me straight up, but that’s okay. We finished with a second place so I think we’re all good for the championship. It’s all about being consistent.”
The 20-year-old German rider took over the lead during the Main Event from eventual winner Eli Tomac on the first lap and held down the top-spot until Lap 6. Roczen and Tomac traded the lead for the next two laps before Tomac made it stick for good on Lap 8.
Roczen’s mechanic, Kelly Lumgair, was pleased with his rider’s effort despite being forced to race his way into the Main, via the first of two 450 SX Semi Finals.
“I’m happy with a second,” explained Lumgair. “Ken wasn’t feeling great, so finishing second on a bad night is pretty good when you look at the big picture.”
Tickle was understandably disappointed following the event and wondered what could have been if not for a bad jump-out of the starting gate.
“The Main Event was a cluster for me,” commented Tickle following the race. “I didn’t get a good start. I ended up with a bunch of guys in the beginning and just had to ride around for the first five laps. I made a mistake around Lap 6 and ended up doubling a triple so that cost me a position. I was creeping-up there and getting faster as the Main Event went on, which was good, but I needed to be a little better at the beginning of the race. There was a group of guys in front of me at the end and if I would have had a better start, I think I could have been in front of them.”
Still, the 2011 Supercross West Coast Lites Champion came away from Round 2 with a plan and a checklist heading into this week’s training regimen.
“I just need to keep riding my Suzuki during the week and getting seat-time,” continued Tickle. “I need to practice starts, do the basic run-through of everything and just keep building. I’m frustrated because I was right there with (Jake) Weimer tonight so I could have been right in there if I hadn’t made that mistake.”
RCH co-owner Carey Hart was noticeably pleased with his team’s performance but was eager to move on from Phoenix to Round 3, and return to the friendly-confines of the season-opener in Anaheim, California.
“Ken had a great start to the Main Event,” said Hart. “He got a great jump and set a good pace for the first five laps. It must have just been Tomac’s night. Broc had some trouble out of the gate and it took him a little while to get sorted out but, once he did, he made forward progress. This series is a marathon, not a sprint. I’m definitely happy for Ken with that second-place finish and we know Broc will be fine. RCH will regroup this week and come out swinging at A2. “
The 2015 Monster Energy AMA Supercross rolls on this weekend when the RCH contingent returns for the second of three visits to Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
Phoenix 450 Supercross Results: 1. Eli Tomac (Honda) 2. Ken Roczen (RCH Suzuki), 3. Ryan Dungey (KTM), 4. Weston Peick (Yamaha), 5. Davi Millsaps (Kawasaki), 6. Jason Anderson (Husqvarna), 7. Andrew Short (KTM), 8. Trey Canard (Honda), 9. Jake Weimer (Kawasaki), 10. Chad Reed (Kawasaki).13. Blake Baggett (Yoshimura Suzuki).