Team Honda HRC's Ken Roczen turned in an impressive performance aboard his CRF450R at round four of the AMA Supercross series in Glendale, Arizona, scoring his second podium result of the season with a third-place finish. When the gate fell for the main event, Roczen rounded the first turn in sixth, but he quickly made his way into fifth on the opening lap. The German continued his charge forward, taking over fourth a few laps later. With his sights set on the podium, Roczen began applying pressure on third-place rider Weston Peick, battling hard before finally making a pass stick on lap seven. He spent the remainder of the race trying to close the gap on Justin Barcia, but mistakes in the race's closing minutes caused him to lose time and settle into third.
Roczen's teammate Cole Seely had a night he'd like to put behind him, as a poor start and a big mistake toward the end of the 23-lap main event saw him take the checkered flag in 12th place. Having been saddled with a poor gate pick, Seely struggled off the line, completing the first lap in 15th place. By the halfway mark, the Californian had made his way into eighth. A close call in the sand section caused him to lose his rhythm and fall off the pace, ultimately sending him back to 12th position.
Team Honda HRC riders Ken Roczen and Cole Seely, along with GEICO Honda's Christian Craig and Chase Sexton, attended a pre-race Supercross party at Peoria, Arizona's RideNow Powersports on Friday, providing fans the opportunity to get photos and autographs from their favorite riders. "Without all of our fans, we wouldn't be able to do what we love," Roczen said. "Tonight was extra special because one little girl was so excited to meet me that she actually started crying. That's what it's all about and it really made my night."
During daytime qualifying, Roczen was the top Red Rider, scoring the second-quickest time with a 55.793", while Seely secured third with a 55.952" time. SmarTop MotoConcept Honda's Justin Brayton was also impressive, landing fourth with 55.955" lap.
The University of Phoenix Stadium has one of the largest floor plans on the circuit, and as a result the track showcased one of the longest start straights. "We actually shifted into fourth," Roczen said. "All in all, the layout of the track was much better than last week. There were a lot of different options, some big jumps, and actual whoops. It makes for much better racing when there are multiple options in rhythm sections and it's not all one-lined."
Team Honda HRC was pleased to host Honda Racing Corporation Representative Director Keisuke Inomoto at Glendale. This was Mr. Inomoto's first time attending an AMA Supercross race this season.
Slotted in heat 1, Roczen got a poor jump out of the gate but was able to sneak to the inside, coming around the first turn in third. He moved into second on the opening lap, and that's where he finished. Brayton had a stellar performance, taking the heat-race win. They were the only two riders in the race to dip into the 55-second range. Seely had his work cut out for him in heat 2 after he came together with another rider in the first turn, sending him to the ground. He worked his way up from 15th on the opening lap to taking the checkered flag in sixth, transferring straight to the main.
Following his solid podium finish, Roczen moved into third overall in the championship standings with 77 points (12 off the leader), while Seely sits fifth with 70.
On February 3, Team Honda HRC will campaign round 5 of the AMA Supercross championship, at Oakland's O.Co Coliseum. On the evening before the race, Seely and Roczen will head to East Bay Motorsports for an autograph session beginning at 6 p.m.
Ken Roczen | 94
"We found ourselves on the podium again tonight with a third place, which is awesome. We had a good heat race, but I really need to work on improving my starts. I have the speed and fitness, but I just need to put myself up front in the beginning. I was in sixth off the start, made some passes, and got myself into third. I rode some solid laps and was inching up on Justin [Barcia], but unfortunately, we ran out of time. All in all, I'm happy with tonight's racing. Obviously, we want to win, but after last weekend it was important to me to come out here and ride how I did. It was a big confidence booster. The team and everyone has been putting in a lot of work each week. I'm having a lot of fun right now and loving where we're at, so we'll keep building from here."
Cole Seely | 14
"I'm really disappointed with tonight. I didn't have a great gate pick and somehow my boot got snagged on the metal start grate so I got a terrible start in the main. I worked my way forward a bit, but I almost went over the bars coming out of the sand and it kind of knocked the wind out of me. Mentally, I couldn't regroup after that. I wasn't tired physically but after that I struggled to focus on hitting my marks."
Keisuke Inomoto | Representative Director: Team Honda/ HRC Motocross
"Overall it was a good night for us with Roczen finishing third on the podium. Seely crashed in the heat race and did not get a good gate pick for the main, but he showed the speed and was moving forward until the end. I'm sure he will figure it out. We have our two riders in the top five in the ranking and we will keep fighting for the championship!"
Erik Kehoe | Team Manager
"I was very excited to see Ken back on the podium today. I think overcoming last weekend's mental hurdles and being able to rebound like he did is a big confidence builder. He was strong all day, even to the very end of the main event. He made a couple mistakes, which he knows, but he didn't let it rattle him and he continued to charge. I think we're seeing a much more patient Ken. Unfortunately, it was an off day for Cole. I think his starts are definitely what killed him today. He was able to make some good, solid passes in the heat race to get into a transfer position, but you don't want to be put in that situation. The back is where all the bad stuff happens because it's so hectic and there's a lot of bar-banging going on. He almost went over the bars toward the end of the main, and from that point on, his lap times fell off. I think that's just a mental-toughness thing he needs to work on. When things rattle him, he needs to snap out of it and get right back into his flow. It's still early in the season and points are pretty close so there's a lot of time left."
Oscar Wirdeman | Mechanic (Ken Roczen)
"Tonight was good, especially after last weekend. I think Ken had the speed to win, but he made two mistakes when he caught up to those guys, and that cost him some time. He's definitely getting more comfortable and confident each weekend. We made the bike quite a bit stiffer on press day, both front and rear, and continued to go that direction throughout race day."
Rich Simmons | Mechanic (Cole Seely)
"I'm disappointed in tonight's overall finish, but there were also good things to take away from today. Despite struggling in the first two practices, Cole qualified well in the third session. Then he rode really well in his heat race, going from last to sixth. I also thought he rode well in the main until the end. For this track, we made quite a few changes to the bike. We lowered the rear and softened it, then actually raised and stiffened the front just because of the way the corners were."