Ken Roczen put his RCH Suzuki onto the podium in Saturday night’s San Diego Supercross, finishing second in the 450SX Main Event.
The 20-year-old German took the holeshot aboard his RM-Z450, but lost the lead to Trey Canard (Honda) on lap four. But during the final laps, he closed right up to finish one second behind Canard.
Said Roczen: “Overall, it was a super-fun race. I made too many mistakes though and it cost me big time, but it’s good to be back on the podium again.”
Roczen’s RCH Soaring Eagle/ Jimmy Johns/ Suzuki Factory Racing team-mate Broc Tickle was back on his Suzuki RM-Z450 for the first time in two weeks after aggravating his back in Oakland and came home with a solid ninth-place performance.
Roczen was the fastest rider in both of his qualifying sessions but came just short of winning his heat race.
When the gate dropped on the Main Event he snatched his first holeshot of the year, pacing the 22-rider field for the first three trips around PETCO Park. Roczen and Canard traded the top spot early on before Canard finally made it stick and the separation between the leaders stayed about the same until lapped traffic became part of the storyline on Lap 10, allowing Roczen to narrow the gap.
On Lap 14, Roczen used the traffic to his advantage to close in on Canard’s rear fender. Three laps later, Roczen pressured Canard again but to no avail. Ultimately, lapped traffic played a role during the closing laps, keeping Roczen at bay just long enough for Canard to take the win.
“It was good to get my first holeshot of the year,” said Roczen who now trails series leader Ryan Dungey by nine points with 11 races left. “That felt really good. Trey (Canard) just got me there. It was nice, fair racing. Some things that I noticed, over and over, are that I clipped jumps and made mistakes. It bummed me out a lot. I don’t know. Maybe it was a lack of focus a little bit. Fitness-wise, I felt good over the whole moto so that was good. I just needed that race to get back on the podium. Overall, it was really good. I’m really happy with a second-place and we gained a couple of points, which is good.”
While Roczen was pleased with the overall effort, he was also a bit critical of his own performance.
“At one point I was making so many mistakes I just said ‘Whoa. Just stay there and try to regroup.’ Overall, I felt good. Trey was a little faster than me in the beginning and I could still stay right there but towards the end, I was probably a little bit faster. All through the lappers, every time he’d gap me a little bit, I closed it right back up. He rode a solid race. Now, we can look forward to going back east.”
Tickle got out of the starting gate in the Main Event 13th and methodically worked his way into the top 10, to finish ninth. Admittedly, the 2011 Supercross West Coast Lites Champion couldn’t ride as hard as he’d hoped but at the end of the night, he took it in his stride.
“I’m sore but pretty stoked with the way everything turned out,” said Tickle. “I really wasn’t feeling it from the get go. I kind of struggled with the track all day. I felt like I was riding fast but I really wasn’t. That’s not normally a good thing. So I just needed to try and get the best start I could in the Main and weasel my way around to get in a good position to finish in the top 10. That was my goal after having missed last weekend.
“I’m pretty pumped with my night. Obviously, I wish I could have ridden a lot better and been better than what I was, but we made progress. We kind of took a shot in the dark for the Main to get me a little more comfortable in the corners and through the whoops. The guys did a good job when they made that choice. I’m looking forward to this week and getting some more time on my RM-Z450 and hopefully head into Dallas this weekend 100 per cent.”
Team co-owner Carey Hart liked what he saw from his team in San Diego and pointed out that resiliency was a key factor in his assessment.
“It was a great night,” commented Hart. “It was a good rebound from two pretty rough weekends. I feel like we had a really solid weekend. Ken was really responsive with the bike. We were able to make some changes over the course of the day. The only real downfall of the night were those five, kind of key laps, after Canard got around Ken. He put some really good laps together and then Ken had to play catch up for the rest of the race.
“Broc had a good night. He looked awesome in his semi and did what he needed to in the Main. We can learn from those little mistakes but at the end of the day, a second and a ninth is solid. It was a good building weekend. We’ll keep rolling with this momentum into Dallas.”
San Diego 450 Supercross Results: 1. Trey Canard (Honda), 2. Ken Roczen (RCH Suzuki), 3. Ryan Dungey (KTM), 4. Chad Reed (Kawasaki), 5. Eli Tomac (Honda), 6. Cole Seely (Honda), 7. Blake Baggett (Yoshimura Suzuki), 8. Andrew Short (KTM), 9. Broc Tickle (RCH Suzuki), 10. Jason Anderson (Husqvarna).