As much of the sporting world turns its attention towards Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in the San Francisco Bay area, the RCH Soaring Eagle/ Jimmy John’s/ Suzuki Factory Racing team turns its attention towards University of Phoenix Stadium, home of last year’s NFL championship game in Glendale, Arizona for Monster Energy AMA/ FIM World Supercross.
RCH Suzuki Factory Racing’s Ken Roczen and new stand-in Jake Weimer come into round five fresh-off solid performances last weekend in Oakland, California and ride into the Phoenix area looking to build on those results.
Broc Tickle, rider of RCH’s # 20 Suzuki RM-Z450, will miss his second consecutive race while he continues to recover from a wrist injury suffered in a practice crash two weeks ago.
Roczen earned his best finish of the season last weekend at O.Co Coliseum where he ran second to race winner and championship leader Ryan Dungey. The solid result lifted Roczen from sixth to fourth in the standings where he sits just two points out of second, trailing Dungey by only 24; and with plenty of races left on the 17-round schedule.
Said Roczen: “He’s (Dungey) just confident right now. He’s known for being super-consistent and he’s definitely hitting his marks; plus he’s going really fast at the same time. I think we’re doing the right thing. There’s nothing to stress about. Obviously, he has a pretty good point lead already, but the season is so long and you never know what’s going to happen, so I’m just excited. It’s been a long time coming for me. Last year was obviously tough but we’re doing good this year and I’m really enjoying the racing. That’s what matters the most to me and what counts.”
The 21-year-old German rider finished second last January when the series competed at Chase Field and is looking to earn his third straight podium of the season.
In his first race competing under the RCH banner, Weimer matched his best result of the year and came home eighth last weekend. The Rupert, Idaho native turned-in a quiet, but important, top-10 finish and maintained his grip on ninth in points. The effort was Weimer’s second eighth-place finish of the season and third straight top-10 result.
“I was pleased with our finish at Oakland, for sure,” explained Weimer, who will make his 54th career 450SX Class start on Saturday night. “There was a lot that went on over that week span. A lot of changes. New scenery. Everything is just a lot different. Overall, everything was good. Oakland was the best that I’d qualified this year. I had a couple of decent starts and then in the Main matched my best finish of the year. I had to fight for 20 laps. It seemed like I was with someone the whole time. I felt like I could be better. I felt like there’s more in the tank. I was definitely happy.”
While tomorrow will mark the series’ inaugural visit to University of Phoenix Stadium, the “Valley of the Sun” has played host to Monster Energy Supercross dating back to 1986. Even though the venue has changed, the dirt surface will be constructed from the same material as it has in year’s past. Despite the new setting, Weimer has had his fair share of success in Phoenix, including a pair of 250SX Class wins (2008 & 2010) and a runner-up finish in the Premier Class in 2012. Still, considering tomorrow’s race is just his second with RCH and the Factory RM-Z450, the 28-year-old veteran keeps his expectations in perspective.
“I’m going to try and get my best result of the year,” Weimer continued. “My best right now - I have two eighths - so I’m going to try and do better than that. I felt like there were some areas where I could improve last week. There are some ways that I can ride the bike better and some ways that the bike allows me to ride it differently. I just need to get a little-more time on it and get a little-more comfortable and I can be better than I was last week. I’ve always enjoyed going to Phoenix: I got my first win there and it seems like I’ve done well there, so that’s always one that I look forward to.”