MENTOR, Ohio (February 6, 2018) - Team Honda HRC's Ken Roczen and Cole Seely tried to steal the show Saturday night in Oakland when Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, made it's annual visit to Oakland Alameda County Coliseum for Round 5 of the 2018 Supercross Championship tilt.
Seely set the pace early in premiere 450SX Class action while Roczen looked to shed the proverbial monkey from his back and return to the top of the podium as the Wiseco-sponsored duo raced in the top two spots for most of the opening half of Saturday night's main event.
As the Red Riders approached the halfway mark, Seely lost the handle of his No. 14 machine and went down in one of the more challenging sections of the course, handing the lead to Roczen. Seely would remount his bike fourth in the running order but slipped to sixth before the checkered flag flew.
Roczen appeared to be well on his way his first win since the 2017 season opener until the rider of the No. 94 Honda CRF450R was outdueled on the final lap by series' veteran Jason Anderson. Still, Roczen clearly demonstrated he's getting sharper by the week by earning another runner-up effort to match his best finish of the season.
"It was a great race but I was really bummed because we worked so hard just to pretty much give away the win on the last half-of-a-lap," commented Roczen following the race. "All in all though, we're healthy and in the championship hunt so it was a good night. We're moving forward and getting that much closer. There were definitely a few close calls out there with lappers and the track, but I feel like I rode pretty clean for most of the race. The last couple laps were something else though. Jason (Anderson) got by me somehow, but we had a good battle to the very end. I really wanted that win but it was good to lead laps. We've got a lot more races to go so we'll keep chipping away at it."
Roczen continues to hold down second in the Supercross Championship point standings and trails Anderson by a slim five-point margin. Seely sits fourth in points with 12 races left on the schedule.
"It was definitely an exciting night," explained Team Honda HRC's team manager Eric Kehoe. "I know Cole is disappointed with the end result and even Ken was upset that the win kind of slipped through his fingers, but they both made good progress. Ken was really able to turn his day around after struggling in qualifying with bike setup. I like Ken's fire. That's what makes him who he is and really drives him to want more. Cole led almost half the main event, which is a huge confidence builder. He knows he's right there and what he has to do to get up front, but the track was just really tough and a mistake cost him."
Across the paddock in the 250SX Class pits, Wiseco-sponsored GEICO Honda riders Christian Craig and Chase Sexton turned in solid performances by finishing their main event fourth and sixth, respectively. Craig led once for nine laps but faded as his night wore on while Sexton recovered from an early-race incident to come up just short of a top five. Craig is currently fifth in points while Sexton sits just off his rear fender in sixth.
"It was pretty good all day," said Sexton. "I had good speed. The heat race was good. I kind of started off slow and ended up third. In the main event, I had a good start. I came into the corner third and I did pretty much a 180 in the first corner and just blew it. I was pretty much dead last and came back to sixth, which was, I guess, about as good as I could do. A-Mart (Alex Martin) and Christian were right in front of me at the end, but didn't have enough time. Sixth was not where I want to be, but we've got next week."
Monster Energy AMA Supercross rolls on this weekend when the Wiseco-supported contingent visits PETCO Park in San Diego, Calif. The sixth of 17 races on the 2018 supercross schedule will be televised live on FS1 Saturday, Jan. 10 beginning at 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, 7 p.m. Pacific.