Ken Roczen dominated the action at the Anaheim 1 Monster Energy Supercross season opener last Saturday, winning the 450 main by over two straightaways and looking smooth as silk. After the race, Dan Betley – Team Honda HRC Team Manager – had a quiet contentment about him. He wasn’t hooting and hollering, high-fiving or pounding fists; instead, he looked satisfied and pleased. Between acquiring Ken Roczen, re-signing Cole Seely, and developing an all-new CRF450R race bike, the 2017 season is a big one for the Honda team, and Betley hopes to lead the Red Riders back to the top of the sport, as it was during his days when he tuned for Jeff Stanton.
Congratulations on the win, Dan! Is this day one of the rebirth of the glory days of Honda?
Uh, let’s not put the cart before the horse (laughs)! We're going one race at a time, but this is definitely the beginning of what I hoped for when I became Team Manager.
With all the work that’s been put into this year, involving the new bike and acquiring Kenny, It has to be satisfying to see it all pay off at the first round…
I can’t say enough about the guys that work for me, I have the best group of guys out there working on these bikes. I also can’t thank the new management enough for having faith in us and trusting us with the changes we have made.
Can you talk a little bit about the earthquake in Sendai, Japan, and how it affected the production of the new bike?
Yeah, we were pretty stressed. There was honestly a point in time where we thought we would be racing 2016 bikes in Supercross and the 2017 bikes in the Nationals. Once we rode the new bike for the first time, it was pretty apparent that we were on a much better platform. From there, I felt a little more calm about everything that was happening. The last three months of testing has really felt different. Instead of taking three stabs at one setting on the bike, we were adjusting it once and moving onto something else. It seemed very easy to get both riders comfortable on a package, which allowed us to move onto different ideas with Andrew Short and ultimately give us the ability to move onto outdoor testing sooner.
How is it having a rider of Andrew’s caliber working as a test rider for the team?
Andrew is amazing, ever since he showed back up on the team he has amazed me. He does such a great job with interviews and promoting products, but also as a test rider he has totally impressed me. He also does a great job with Cole and Kenny, he adds a valuable rider perspective that I can’t help with.
So after winning tonight, do you continue to search for better settings, or do you settle with what you have?
I think we already have better settings to tell you the truth, we are currently developing things with Andrew. The riders are comfortable, so I feel there is no reason to mess with that. We will continue the testing process, although this week will be difficult with the rain coming in. We're going to keep doing what we are doing, and continue testing and developing with Andrew. If we come up with something that we feel is better, we'll try it out and see how the riders react.