RCH Suzuki Factory Racing’s Ken Roczen dominated Saturday night’s third round of the AMA/ FIM World Supercross Championship at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, taking his RM-Z450 to a 5.2-second victory.
The RCH Soaring Eagle/ Jimmy Johns/ Suzuki Factory rider, who won the opening round at Anaheim and finished second at last week’s second round in Phoenix, has now opened-up his lead in the 17-round series to 12 points.
Said Roczen: “My day started out a little bit rusty. The track was really special and not easy to ride. I knew, going into the track walk, not to get stressed about the first or second practice. The track really came around in the Main. It was pretty tricky; we had some ruts out there and it was a big track with long lap-times that definitely made it interesting. We got good starts when we needed them and I think everyone can see that my Suzuki RM-Z450 works awesome. We also had a great heat race so I was very confident going into the Main. I didn’t get the holeshot but I was still near the front after the start and that was all I really needed.”
Roczen was second fastest in both of Saturday’s qualifying sessions and finished second to Ryan Dungey (KTM) in the first 450 SX heat race of the program that guaranteed the German rider a spot at the starting gate for the Main Event.
Jimmy Albertson won the holeshot but it took Roczen less than a lap to pass him, Davi Millsaps and Andrew Short for the top spot. From there it was all Roczen, leading all 20 laps en-route to the fourth big-bike win of his young career.
“Shorty (Andrew Short) is a hard guy to pass,” said Roczen. “I didn’t really want to get tangled-up behind him so I had to make the move. After that, I needed to ride smart but stay focused on intensity because everyone was really fast. My bike worked awesome. It felt great and that’s all that matters. We put in a few strong laps but I couldn’t rest because Ryan (Dungey) got a bit closer sometimes during the race. Overall it was a really good night and it was good to fight back after last weekend. We’ll keep going and hopefully just inch away with the points lead. As long as we’re winning, we’re good.”
Team-mate Broc Tickle’s fifth-place finish in the Main Event was his best effort of 2015 and less than a year after a potentially career-ending injury suffered last March in Toronto.
Tickle had a solid weekend overall. The Holly, Michigan rider was strong in both of the weekend’s qualifying sessions but a sixth-place finish in his heat race forced Tickle to race his way through the first 450 SX semi-final of the night.
After winning the holeshot in the semi, the 2011 Supercross West Coast Lites Champion led every lap and cruised to an easy victory. That performance catapulted Tickle to his best finish of the year and gave the 25-year-old a welcome sigh of relief after a tough outing last weekend in Phoenix.
Said Tickle: “Everything went pretty good. The semi set the tone for the night. Honestly, I haven’t ‘gotten a holeshot in a couple of years so winning the semi was important as all that confidence carried over into the Main. All I did was go out there, try to ride 20 solid laps; and it paid off. There was a lot of carnage midway through the race so I just tried to keep my pace going and look forward. Justin Barcia was close to me and I knew if I stayed close to him that I would leave a gap behind me. That was my goal and that’s kind of what happened. Cole Seely started catching me at the end but I still had some left in the tank, so I opened it up a little bit and gapped him just enough where I could cruise the last couple of laps. It was an awesome Main Event; it gives me goose bumps getting off the bike after a finish like that and I really appreciate everyone who stuck with me after the injury last year.”
RCH co-owner Carey Hart said: “The whole night is really bittersweet. With Ken getting the win and to see Broc come back and finish fifth after the season he had last year is just awesome. I’m not sure who I’m happier for.
“I’m excited about next week,” continued Hart. “We’ve got a lot of momentum. Broc did great. He’s really getting his starts down and the win was a good boost for Ken to keep his confidence up. We’ll get back on the test track this week, put in the work and come into Oakland next weekend rolling.”
Team Manager Kyle Bentley added: “I’m super excited and I couldn’t be more proud of Ken. He puts in the work during the week, but I’m even happier for Broc and super-stoked for the whole team. We’ve put in a lot of work and a lot of effort. It’s a team deal. I also need to give credit to Ivan Tedesco for helping us during the week and getting our bike set-ups dialled-in. I’m almost speechless. It’s a long season so we just need to keep rolling.”
The 2015 Monster Energy AMA Supercross heads up the Pacific Coast to Oakland next weekend when Roczen, Tickle and the rest of the RCH contingent trek to northern California for the first of two annual visits to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Anaheim II 450 Supercross Results: 1. Ken Roczen (RCH Suzuki), 2. Ryan Dungey (KTM), 3. Eli Tomac (Honda), 4. Justin Barcia (Yamaha), 5. Broc Tickle (RCH Suzuki), 6. Cole Seely (Honda), 7. Jason Anderson (Husqvarna), 8. Dean Wilson (KTM), 9. Davi Millsaps (Kawasaki), 10. Blake Baggett (Yoshimura Suzuki).