San Diego Supercross
AMA Supercross 2017 Round 2
Roczen Makes it Two for Two at San Diego Supercross
It was another exhilarating night for Team Honda HRC at San Diego’s Petco Park, as Ken Roczen emerged victorious from a thrilling battle and opened the AMA Supercross season with back-to-back wins. Roczen launched to a fourth-place start but rode his CRF450R into second place on the opening lap. The German stayed within striking distance of the leader, making multiple advances before successfully taking over at the 13-minute mark. He was kept honest throughout the remainder of the race but stayed composed, ultimately taking the checkered flag for the win.
Teammate Cole Seely got off the line to a top-10 start and advanced to fourth by lap two. He maintained that position until the halfway point before relinquishing two spots. With three laps remaining, Seely put together one last surge to regain fifth, which is where he finished.
Prior to the gate drop, Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen and Cole Seely, as well as Honda brand ambassador Andrew Short, attended a supercross pit party and autograph session at Motoworld of El Cajon. A sizeable contingent of fans came out too meet their favorite Red Riders.
With rain drenching the Southern California region for much of the week before the race, Team Honda HRC opted to take their training to dryer conditions in Arizona. Seely and Roczen spent two days at Motoland MX Park outside of Phoenix under the watchful eyes of Short and engine technician Lars Lindstrom.
Team Honda HRC was pleased to host Honda Racing Corporation Representative Director Keisuke Inomoto in San Diego. It was Mr. Inomoto’s first time attending a supercross race this season.
As had happened at the opener, precipitation leading up to the race forced officials to change the schedule to a rain format, eliminating the free-practice session. “It’s tough not getting a free practice,” Seely said. “We have a limited amount of time to learn the track already, so without that practice, we’re having to figure out the track while laying down our qualifying times.”
During the daytime qualifying sessions, Roczen was one of only three riders to drop into the 52-second mark, finishing third-fastest with a 52.772. With a mere .647 seconds separating the remainder of the top 10, Seely landed in ninth with a 53.701 second lap.
For the second consecutive week, Roczen and Seely were seeded together in 450SX heat 2. When the gate dropped, Roczen grabbed the holeshot and early lead, riding unchallenged to the checkered flag. Seely got off the line to an eighth-place start and quickly began moving through the field. By the end of the seven-lap race, Seely had moved up to fifth, and he was forced to transfer through the second semi, which he won.
This weekend, the Honda Red Riders head back to Anaheim for Angel Stadium’s second and final stop of the year. On Friday, the riders will take part in a dealer appearance at Huntington Beach Honda from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
THE FOCUS: Paying Respect
This marked the fourth annual Military Appreciation race in San Diego, and the entire industry came together to honor the men and women who have served and sacrificed in the United States Armed Forces. Once again, Team Honda HRC showed their full support by donning their CRF450R race bikes in military-inspired graphics by Throttle Jockey. This year was unique in that Cole Seely’s and Ken Roczen’s bikes showcased different themes, which were matched by their personal gear. The number 94 machine was armed with red plastics and snow-camouflage graphics, while the number 14 Honda wore stars across red and navy fields.
“The idea to base the graphics off the riders’ gear actually came from Matt Davis at Throttle Jockey,” said team manager Dan Betley. “We’ve done different designs over the past couple years but I think these turned out pretty cool, especially seeing Ken and Cole in their gear and on the bikes.”
“It’s great, and in actuality it’s such a small thing,” Seely said of the event. “I mean, all we’re doing is putting different stickers on our bikes and wearing different gear, which is so minute compared to what the members of the military have done and continue to do for us. This is the least we can do. I hope they feel appreciated because we really just have to say thank you to all of the people who have served and put their lives on the line.”
“Ryan [Dungey] kept me on my toes,” said Roczen. “The track broke down and it was really rough out there, but that’s the fun part. I hope the fans enjoyed it. That’s what they want to see—a battle for the win. I’m happy to be up here again—actually happier with this weekend’s win than last weekend’s. Another day in the books and I’m looking forward to next weekend.”
“Tonight went pretty good,” said Cole Seely. “I’m trying to get my starts more dialed in and I definitely felt better during the semi, so I just tried to apply that to the main event, got a decent start and made my way up to fourth. I went back to sixth but chipped away at Eli [Tomac] before passing him back. It was a step in the right direction for both me and the bike setup.”
“It was a very tough race tonight and it was great to beat last year’s champion the way Ken did,” said Keisuke Inomoto, Representative Director: Team Honda/ HRC Motocross. “:I’m sure it gave him more confidence going forward into the rest of the season. I was also glad to see that Cole improved from last week. I’m sure he’ll be on the podium very soon! I would like to congratulate the team as well for their hard work.”
“I’m feeling a lot better now that that race is over because it sure was a nail-biter!” said Dan Betley, Team Manager. “It was stressful and I’m sure I have a few more gray hairs but it was a good race and that’s what the fans come to see. Last weekend was great with a 15 second lead but that’s a little unrealistic because the competition is tough, so I think we can expect a lot more battles between those two. We’re taking it one weekend at a time though, so we’ll reset and go into Anaheim 2 with the same attitude. Cole is better than he’s racing right now, so we just need to find out what’s going on and iron out those kinks and he’ll be on the podium in no time.”
“It was a good race tonight,” said Oscar Wirdeman, Roczen’s mechanic. “Ken and Ryan were battling hard for much of the race, but luckily they both respect each other and it stayed clean. Ryan made a few mistakes at the end luckily, and we were able to come out on top again. The bike is working great; we only made a few minor clicker changes throughout the day. Getting another win under our belt is great but we’re going to continue to focus on each week.”
“I think we made some improvements tonight,” said Rich Simmons, Seely’s mechanic. “We made a few good changes to the bike during the week, as well as today. That helped but we’re still working on starts; those definitely need to be better. As much as you don’t want to go to the semi, I think it helped him get his starts in order a little more. We really just need to work on his aggression in the first half of the race and I think the rest will come.”