RCH Suzuki Factory Racing’s Ken Roczen raced to second place at Saturday night’s Monster Energy Supercross seventh round at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The 20-year-old started in fourth, moved into second on the fifth lap; and stayed there to take the flag just behind series leader Ryan Dungey (KTM) as RCH Soaring Eagle/ Jimmy Johns/ Suzuki Factory Racing team-mate Broc Tickle carded ninth place in the Main Event.
While the top-two effort left him one step below the top of the box, Roczen felt good with the result but was quick to point out that second won’t be enough to close the deal at season’s end.
“I need to work on my starts,” said Roczen. “I’ve been working hard on trying to be better, but I just have to get out front. Ryan (Dungey) was pretty much gone after two laps and I made one big mistake after the finish line but overall, it was a decent race. We got second again and we’ll definitely take the podium.
“It’s still a long season but I have to work on my starts so I can be out front. Ryan is a really good starter. I just need to get holeshots. Third and fourth out of the gate isn’t going to be good enough. We need to win races and can’t make mistakes. Obviously, there are enough guys who can win. You just have to go in the Main, get that holeshot and ride smart. You have to win.”
Roczen finished second for the third time this season but still lost three points to Dungey in the championship standings. In the first seven races of 2015, he has won twice, finished second three times and has only one finish (Oakland) worse than fourth.
Tickle’s evening wasn’t quite as straightforward: A red flag halted his heat race, forcing the AMA to restart the night’s first 450SX qualifier. Shortly after the ensuing restart, the Holly, Michigan rider tangled with Jimmy Albertson and Jason Anderson, forcing him to race his way through the semi where a gritty last-lap performance secured him a starting spot in the Main Event.
Despite starting deep in the field and the constant nag that comes with the lingering effects from a back injury, Tickle rode a smart, consistent race during the Main to come away with a respectable ninth-place showing.
Said Tickle: “We had a red flag during the heat race. I think someone went down in the rhythm section so they red-flagged the race about halfway through and we had to restart. I got a decent start that time. I think I was fourth or fifth. Then (Jimmy) Albertson lost control and (Jason) Anderson ran into him and I ran into Anderson, so that caused a big pile-up. Pretty much finished almost last in the heat race.
“Went to the semi and had a bad gate pick. Thought I had the holeshot for a second but I got pushed a little wide. The last lap of the semi was pretty hectic. I made a couple of mistakes at the end but it turned out for the best because it got my intensity level up. I’m not stoked with my riding, 100 percent, and I kind of felt like I did last weekend where I wasn’t totally comfortable. I need to work on some stuff this week so I can get better. Working on the little things is going to help me a lot.”
RCH co-owner Carey Hart was at AT&T Stadium for the race and in the team’s post-race debrief Hart pointed out consistency will make or break his team’s pursuit of the ultimate goal, the Monster Energy Supercross title.
“It was a great night,” offered Hart. “Ken had a good day in practice and qualifying. He was solid through the night. We have to keep banging out first- and second-place finishes to stay in this championship hunt. It was just one of those nights. (Ryan) Dungey got a clear start and had a clean track. Ken had to work through three or four guys to get to second and by then, Dungey had already set the pace and pretty much checked-out. Broc’s still feeling it in his back but he finished ninth so it was a solid night all around. The only unfortunate part is that Ryan won and we lost a few points. There are 10 races left so we have to keep grinding.”
Roczen, Tickle and the rest of the Monster Energy Supercross crew continue east this weekend when the series visits Atlanta for the first of back-to-back weekends at the Georgia Dome.
Arlington 450 Supercross Results: 1. Ryan Dungey (KTM), 2. Ken Roczen (RCH Suzuki), 3. Trey Canard (Honda), 4. Blake Baggett (Yoshimura Suzuki), 5. Andrew Short (KTM), 6. Jason Anderson (Husqvarna), 7. Eli Tomac (Honda), 8. Josh Grant (Kawasaki), 9. Broc Tickle (RCH Suzuki), 10. Cole Seely (Honda).