Inclement weather during the 2019 AMA Supercross season opener at Anaheim’s Angel Stadium didn’t dampen the excitement for Team Honda HRC.
In tricky, muddy conditions, Ken Roczen rode his CRF450R smoothly and methodically to secure a second-place finish.
When the gate dropped for the Main Event, Roczen bobbled and briefly came together with another rider, dropping him toward the back. He recovered brilliantly by sneaking to the inside in the first turn and salvaging a sixth-place start, then charged up to fourth place in just a few laps.
At the halfway point, the German capitalised on another rider’s mistake to move into podium contention.
He still wasn’t finished, setting his sights on second-place Dean Wilson, and he quickly began closing the gap. Roczen eventually made the pass on lap 16, then took the chequered flag in second.
The night also marked the return of Cole Seely, who had been sidelined by injury for nearly nine months. The Californian had to shake off some nerves, but he still managed to put together a solid performance in the challenging conditions, eventually finishing 10th on the night.
With so much competition in the 450SX class, times were tight throughout the daytime qualifying practice. At the end of two sessions, MotoConcept Honda’s Justin Brayton was the fastest Red Rider, securing the fourth-best time with a 54.698” lap. Roczen was eighth-quickest at 55.027”, while team-mate Seely was 12th with a 55.380”.
Roczen started the night program on the right foot, earning the win in the first heat race, with Seely just off the podium in fourth.
Also impressive was MotoConcept Honda’s Malcolm Stewart, who finished the second heat in the runner-up spot.
In his first-ever 450SX appearance at Anaheim, Stewart impressed everyone by running second for over half of the 20-minute-plus-one-lap main event.
Unfortunately, the deteriorating track conditions led to Stewart sliding out in a slick turn and losing multiple positions. He maintained fourth until another mishap pushed him back to seventh, where he finished.
The Honda CRF450R was the bike of choice for seven riders in the main event, more than any other manufacturer.
GEICO Honda’s RJ Hampshire had a decent showing in the 250 West main event, finishing in fourth place. Team-mate Cameron McAdoo was just outside the top 10 after spending the first few laps in the top five.
To help raise money for injured riders, American Honda has teamed up with Road 2 Recovery by donating a 2019 CRF450R Works Edition, with the VIN number ending in 94. From now until the Supercross finale in Las Vegas on May 4, fans can purchase $5 tickets to put themselves in the running to win not only this incredible motorcycle—inspired by Roczen’s factory race machine—but also an autographed set of Ken’s Fox gear.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit R2Rhonda94raffle.com.
On January 12, the Red Riders take on round two of the AMA Supercross series in Glendale, Arizona. On Friday, the riders will take part in a dealer appearance at RideNow Powersports in Peoria from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Ken Roczen: “It’s good to get out of here healthy and with a solid podium. The conditions were tough – they can obviously play in your favour but they can also bite you bad. For about half of the Main, we were still jumping the big doubles in the middle but it was definitely sloppy and sketchy out there. It was really all about consistency. There were ruts everywhere so you had to try not to make any mistakes.
“Once we got into the lappers that’s when it got really bad. I got held up a couple times, which cost me time. I’m pumped though – I’m leaving with a heat-race win and second in the Main, so I couldn’t have asked for a better first race.”
Cole Seely: “It felt so good to get back to racing. I was so nervous and excited at the same time, but also so happy to line up again. Normally 10th is something I’d be disappointed in, and I was a little bummed at first but after putting it into perspective and considering the conditions, I’m happy with it and just excited to be back. I’m looking forward to the process and to just building on my finishes each week.”
Team manager, Erik Kehoe: “The worst thing about today was the weather. Looking at it overall, we’re getting out of here with good results – I think both guys met their goals, and most importantly we’re healthy; that’s definitely something positive to start this series with.
“It could’ve been a lot worse, considering the conditions. For Ken to come away with a podium is great. He rode smart, minimised mistakes on a tricky track, and came out in second. I think a top 10 for Cole is also good. I know he had some nerves throughout the day, but with every lap in practice and even in his heat, you could tell he was getting more and more comfortable. It was a great stepping stone for him to race those two overseas events but the landscape of the competition and tracks is much different – today was his first real gate drop, and I think we’re going to continue to see his confidence grow and speed increase each weekend.”