MENTOR, Ohio (August 28, 2018) - Wiseco-sponsored teams and riders flexed their collective muscle throughout the summer and carried that momentum through the final checkered of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship season with a trio of strong showings in Saturday's season finale at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Ind.
Heavy rain saturated the venue Saturday morning, promising fans and teams plenty of drama for the 12th and final round of the year. Despite the less-than-ideal conditions, Wiseco-powered racers came through the day practically stain free.
Ken Roczen, rider of the No. 94 Honda CRF450R secured his sixth runner-up finish of the year, closing out the 2018 outdoor campaign third in the championship battle. All totaled, Roczen earned a pair of moto wins, and notched six podium finishes in 12 races. Even more impressive, in a season that was clouded by uncertainty because of injuries, the two-time Pro Motocross titlist earned 10 top fives and only finished outside the top 10 once. Additionally, Roczen was named 2018 Sportsman of the Year during the ceremonies following the final round.
Fellow Wiseco-supported riders RJ Hampshire and Chase Sexton finished second and third, respectively in the last race of the season for the 250 Class, wrapping up their seasons with strong performances for the GEICO Honda team.
Roczen exploded out of staring gate in the first moto and was sixth in the running order before the 40-rider premiere class field rounded the second corner. Despite having to stop for a fresh pair of goggles just past halfway, the German fan-favorite made a spirited charge in late goings to secure a gritty third-place finish in the penultimate moto of the season.
Back on the starting line for Moto 2, Roczen leveraged another sporty gate drop to rocket into second before completing the first lap. He spent the rest of the moto trying to track down the leader and eventual race winner Justin Barcia, but time and distance proved to be the deciding factors, leaving Roczen second at the checkered flag.
"This season was tough, but great," offered Roczen. "Nobody really sees the struggle during the week. To throw myself into this season with very little track time or testing and not even be sure I could really race, to how things progressed, especially the second half of the season, was great. I finished on the podium a bunch and got third overall in the championship, which was the goal coming into this weekend. It's really good to finish this season healthy and strong, which is what the plan was for this year, and to get some racing under my belt."
Hampshire rode his No. 36 Honda CRF250R to a fourth-place points finish on the strength of one overall win, two podiums, five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes. The Hudson, Fla., rider closed out his season with a sturdy 4-3 effort at the Ironman National, to come home second overall.
His day started with a tough practice, but Hampshire bounced back despite a bad gate pick in the first moto. He pulled the holeshot in moto two with a sneaky line inside the competition.
"I saw in the first 450 moto that Chad Reed had that gate, and sure enough it was open for me," explained Hampshire. "It was cool. I actually called it early this week in an Instagram post, I said I would get a holeshot. I had the confidence. We actually had a little issue in practice, so we qualified 36th. (I) was pretty far outside but had a decent go at it, had a few small crashes but got fourth. Second moto I pulled that holeshot and was kind of just riding with AP (race leader Aaron Plessinger) for quite a while, found the ground, got up. I knew I needed to get Chase (teammate Chase Sexton) for the podium, and he ended up going down and giving it back to me."
Sexton wrapped up his year sixth in the 250 Class points after recording three podiums, four top-five and 11 top-10 efforts. The 18-year-old La Moille, Ill., native finished third overall Saturday afternoon with a workman-like, but dirty, 2-6 outing.
"It's only three hours from my home town," Sexton said of the Ironman track. "I've actually raced the GNCC (Grand National Cross Country) here twice. I wish it would have helped me out there today--falling down six times in the second moto is definitely not GNCC worthy! I saw Aaron (Plessinger) up ahead of me and I thought 'I got one shot to win this.' I felt really good and I thought I saw him getting closer, but then I hit the ground. It went downhill from there.
"I was kind of over being conservative this whole year, so I'm glad I went for it. I got six podiums this year, three in supercross and three outdoors. I'd say that's a pretty good year for me, I learned a lot and I'm looking forward to 2019."