Round 3 of the AMA Supercross series at Anaheim’s Angel Stadium, which hosted the first Triple Crown event of the season, saw Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen put together a solid performance aboard his CRF450R to finish fourth overall with 2-5-4 finishes, maintaining control of the series points lead.
In the night’s first of three 450SX races, Roczen launched to the holeshot and early lead. He rode comfortably and confidently at the front until a last-lap mistake allowed Cooper Webb to make the pass, forcing the German to settle for second.
After the gate dropped on the second race, Roczen came around the first turn in sixth but worked his way up to third by the halfway point. He then went down in the whoops and remounted in seventh. He spent the remainder of the race fighting for positions, ultimately taking the checkered flag in fifth.
In the night’s final race, Roczen got a poor start, completing the first lap in sixth, but he put his head down and worked his way into fourth by the finish.
“Overall, it was a good night of racing,” said Roczen. “We showed a lot of speed and are happy with this Triple Crown race. We got off to a great start in the first race, getting the holeshot and leading the whole race until I made a mistake in one of the last rhythm sections, which unfortunately cost me the win. We still came in second, which was great. I didn’t get the best start in the second race but I eased my way through and felt like I was going really fast. I found myself in third and was catching the guys up front but I made a mistake and went down in the whoops and had about five guys go by me. I didn’t let that distract me, rode strong and worked my way back up to fifth. We were just trying to get through the third race, where I finished fourth and unfortunately, just missed the podium. It was a bummer not to be on the overall podium, but we still have the points lead and red plate so that’s awesome.”
Team-mate Cole Seely also delivered a solid result on the night, riding to a strong sixth-place overall finish with 5-7-13 marks.
In the first race, Seely came around the first turn in fourth but relinquished one spot on the opening lap, then maintained fifth throughout the entire 12-minute-plus-one-lap race.
The Californian continued his strong showing in the evening’s second race by grabbing a second-place start and posting impressive lap times early in the race. He lost momentum toward the end, relinquishing multiple spots and crossing the line in seventh.
A less-than-desirable start in the final race left Seely outside the top 10 and unable to find his rhythm, and he crossed the finish line in 13th.
“Once again, there are a lot of positives to take away from tonight,” said Seely. “My starts were much better in two out of the three races, and I was able to run more toward the front of the pack. Being up there and feeling the pace of the front group was huge. The Triple Crown format is definitely a challenge because the turnaround time is really short and you’re basically doing three sprint races, so you have to be on it. I’m getting back into the flow and am excited to go racing each weekend, so seventh is another step in the right direction.”
With wet weather in Southern California during the week leading into the race, Ken Roczen spent part of his week training in Mesquite, Nevada, and Southern Utah, riding at both a Supercross track and in the desert. Meanwhile, Cole Seely stayed local, taking advantage of the wet dirt by riding in the hills with members of the Honda crew.
During Saturday’s daytime qualifying sessions, Roczen pushed himself to the third-quickest lap of the day with a 58.381” time, secured in the second session. Fellow Red Rider Justin Brayton was fourth-fastest aboard his Smartop MotoConcepts Honda CRF450R with a 58.527” time, while Seely was 13that 59.741”.
Last year, Roczen and his wife Courtney were filmed driving Honda’s Talon for a virtual-reality simulator, which has been used at a number of events since the vehicle’s unveiling. The VR booth was set up in the pits at Anaheim 2, so the couple finally got to experience it for themselves after practice.
Roczen also took time to surprise the children at Honda’s Learn to Ride activation in the pits, where he signed autographs and posed for photos with the kids. One of the children who participated in the Learn to Ride program was Roczen mechanic Oscar Wirdeman’s 7-year-old daughter Reef.
Due to quick turnaround times between races at Triple Crown events, teams are now allowed to send two motorcycles through tech inspection for each rider. “Ideally you don’t want to have to use your second bike, but it’s nice to have,” said Wirdeman.
“There isn’t a lot of time between races, so in case of a mechanical issue, it’s nice to have a full bike ready to go that you can use, versus scrambling to re-prep or fix the same one before the next race.”
In the 250SX West Region races at Anaheim 2, GEICO Honda rider RJ Hampshire scored fourth overall for the third week in a row, this time with steady 5-4-5 race finishes aboard his CRF250R, while team-mate Cameron McAdoo was sixth with 9-5-6 results. Both riders will be shooting for better starts at the next round.
This Saturday, Team Honda HRC will campaign Round 4 of the AMA Supercross series, in Oakland, California. The evening before the race, a rider appearance is scheduled at East Bay Motorsports in Hayward.
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