Team Honda HRC had a night of ups and downs at the San Diego Supercross, as Cole Seely led over half of the main event before taking the checkered flag in fourth, while teammate Ken Roczen was sidelined after an incident with another rider. For the second consecutive week, Seely grabbed the main-event holeshot aboard his CRF450R and laid down consistent laps, opening up a solid lead through the first half of the race. At the midway point, Seely came under pressure and was unable to hold off the advances of eventual winner Jason Anderson. Several mistakes resulted in Seely relinquishing two more positions before he crossed the finish line in fourth place.
Roczen had a rough night from the very start of the main event, as a first-turn crash left him nearly last on the opening lap. On lap three, while looking to make a pass on Cooper Webb, Roczen lost control of his bike and sent both riders to the ground. Unfortunately, Roczen’s right arm tangled in the rear wheel of Webb’s bike and he retired from the race. The German was evaluated by the Alpinestars Mobile Medical Unit, where it was determined that he has a fracture to the second metacarpal in his right hand. Roczen will visit his physician on Monday for further evaluation, but surgery has already been scheduled with Dr. Randy Viola (the surgeon who performed all of his procedures in 2017) on Friday, February 16. Additional details will be released when they become available.
On Friday evening, hundreds of fans came out to South Bay Motorsports in Chula Vista, California, to meet Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen and Cole Seely, GEICO Honda’s Christian Craig and Chase Sexton, and Adam Enticknap, all of whom were on hand to sign autographs and take pictures.
The Honda racing family came together in San Diego, with Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team rider Jake Gagne spending some time under the Team Honda HRC tent to meet fellow racer Cole Seely. Gagne is spending his final days in the States before heading to Australia to kick off his 2018 season on February 23.
Competition was fierce during the daytime qualifying sessions, with all the riders from second to 12th posting times in the 51-second range. Roczen notched the third-quickest lap time at 51.109”, while Seely was a mere .52” behind in 11th with a 51.629” lap. MotoConcept Honda’s Justin Brayton was fourth-fastest with a 51.120” time.
For the second week in a row, Seely and Roczen were slotted together in the same 450SX heat race—heat two in this case. Due to a red flag, all riders were forced back to the line early for a full restart. When the gate dropped for the second time, Seely got off to a much better start, settling into third on the opening lap. He closed in on the rider in front of him, dicing back and forth before making a blazing pass through the whoops to take over second. Meanwhile, Roczen didn’t fare as well in the restart, sitting ninth after the first turn. He worked his way through the pack to take the checkered flag in fifth.
On lap five of the 450SX main event, Seely laid down the fastest time of the race at 51.444”.
GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton rode impressively throughout the 250SX main event to earn his second career podium finish with a solid third. The rookie completed the first lap in fourth but charged forward, taking over third on lap six. En route to his podium appearance, Sexton laid down the fastest lap of the main event with a 52.733” time. Teammate Christian Craig struggled off the start and was shuffled toward the back of the pack in the first turn. He spent the remainder of the race trying to salvage as many positions as possible, working his way into sixth by the end.
This weekend, Team Honda HRC will begin their journey east to campaign round 6 of the AMA Supercross series, in Arlington, Texas. The evening before the race, Team Honda HRC and GEICO Honda are scheduled to make an appearance at Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda, starting at 6 p.m.
Cole Seely 14
“It’s frustrating for sure, but I’m trying to take away the positives. I’ve got good speed, rode aggressive in the heat race, and my starts have been better, so I just need to put it all together. I just need to figure out that last missing piece that’s keeping me from winning races. I started making little mistakes; I’d start to feel the front end tuck and would have to back it down a little bit, and in all the spots that I had to back it down, those guys caught up with me and made passes. After that I got tight and just couldn’t keep going forward. I held on and pushed as long as I could but I wasn’t getting the traction I felt I needed. I didn’t predict that the track was going to get so slick. During our briefing after the heat race, I said I wanted to keep the bike the same and liked the way it handled. In hindsight, I should’ve made some adjustments, but I need to continue working on it and hopefully get a win soon.”
Ken Roczen 94
“I’m completely devastated with the outcome of tonight. The first thing I thought about on the ground was my team and all the hard work we’ve put in to get back to this point. I came into the corner with good speed, got on the gas, and then caught a ton of traction in the rut, lost my balance, and whisky-throttled the bike into [Cooper] Webb. My arm went in between his wheel and swingarm. We’ve already made the necessary calls to Dr. Viola and are going to get everything fixed up so I can get back out there as soon as possible.”
“Cole had another great start tonight in the main event and led almost half the race again, but things started to unravel toward the second half and he fell back a few spots. Fourth definitely isn’t bad, but I know he’s frustrated with that after the way the race started. He’s got the speed and fitness, so we just need to figure out what’s holding him back those last 10 minutes. It was a rough night for Kenny. Looking at the way his arm got sucked into the wheel though, it could’ve been worse, so we’re grateful it wasn’t. We’ll see what the doctor says about his hand this week and find out what the prognosis and recovery time is.”
Mechanic (Cole Seely)
“I’m disappointed with tonight. This is the second week in row that Cole has been riding really well and put himself in a great situation right off the start but was unable to make it happen all the way to the end. He just made some small mistakes the second half of the race and couldn’t maintain his original pace once those guys got around him. He’s so close to a win and I know he wants it, so we’ll just keep chipping away at it.”
Mechanic (Ken Roczen)
“This is such a bummer and is not the way we wanted things to turn out. We were alright all day, but the main just didn’t go our way. Kenny struggled again in the first qualifying session but we made some changes and came out strong in the last one, giving him a good qualifying position. His heat was okay; he got a terrible start but rode fast, moving into fifth by the end. Then in the main, he went down in the first turn and then again with Cooper (Webb). I only got to see it when they replayed it on the big screen, but it was still hard to get an idea of what exactly happened. It could’ve been much worse, so I’m happy about that, and hopefully he’ll be back sooner than later.”
Words and pic: Honda