Ken Roczen and the RCH Soaring Eagle/ Jimmy Johns/ Suzuki Factory Racing team bounced back from a disappointing race in Oakland with a solid fourth-place performance in Saturday night’s Monster Energy AMA/ FIM World Supercross fifth round at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.
Although the end result left him one position short of the podium, the solid showing was an important about-face from his previous week’s performance. Although Roczen was pleased with his overall race-effort on Saturday night, the RCH Suzuki Factory rider was less-than thrilled with how he performed out of the starting gate.
Said Roczen: “I started-out in practice not feeling the greatest, for some reason. I just felt a little bit off. In the heat race I didn’t grab that good-of-a start but I could kind of sneak around and then I rode a good race. Same thing happened in the ‘Main’: I had a horrible start. I don’t know what I was doing. Then (Blake) Baggett held me off for three-or-four laps and that’s when the guys in front gapped us. We caught them at one point but then I got passed by (Eli) Tomac on the last lap, which I’m not happy about. Basically, the starts are what really hurt me. It is what it is. We’re looking forward to this weekend. We finished fourth, which isn’t awesome but it’s ok.”
The 20-year-old German was third-and-fifth-fastest respectively in each of his two qualifying sessions and finished second to eventual Main Event winner Ryan Dungey in their heat race.
In the Main, Roczen struggled out of the starting gate before eventually settling into sixth in the running order. Throughout the 20-lap Main, Roczen rode a smart, measured race and steadily worked his way up to third. Even though he yielded the final podium position to Tomac on the last lap, he still left Anaheim with a solid fourth-place finish.
“The whole day was kind of a struggle,” said Roczen’s mechanic Kelly Lumgair. “It took a while to get the track figured-out and Ken might still be feeling it a little bit from Oakland. He got better the more he rode but a bad start in the Main cost him a few positions. He worked his way up to a podium but Tomac passed him at the end and we finished fourth.”
After winning the first two races at Angel Stadium this season, RCH co-owner Carey Hart was optimistic heading into the event but he knows that any minor hiccup has the potential to derail a championship effort.
“I think Ken was just a little bit off all day,” explained Hart. “He just wasn’t flowing like he typically does. We have to buckle-down this week and get the train back on the tracks and get ready for San Diego.”
Roczen’s RCH team-mate Broc Tickle wasn’t able to race this weekend after suffering a back injury at the Oakland Supercross. However, the 2011 Supercross West Coast Lites Champion was on-hand to support his RCH stablemate with an eye towards returning at San Diego.
Said Tickle: “The track looked super-tough. It was hard to pass and all about the start. Sitting and watching drove me crazy but I’m really looking forward to this week. Hopefully I can get on the bike and give positive feedback. The plan is to go to San Diego and pick back up where I left off before Oakland.”
Monster Energy Supercross heads south from Anaheim down Interstate 5 this weekend to San Diego’s PETCO Park – home of the San Diego Padres – and the last leg of the series’ West Coast series.
Anaheim III 450 Supercross Results: 1. Ryan Dungey (KTM), 2. Cole Seely (Honda), 3. Eli Tomac (Honda), 4. Ken Roczen (RCH Suzuki), 5. Trey Canard (Honda), 6. Chad Reed (Kawasaki), 7. Blake Baggett (Yoshimura Suzuki), 8. Justin Barcia (Yamaha), 9. Jason Anderson (Husqvarna), 10. Josh Hill (Yamaha).