PR- Round 3 of the AMA Supercross series at Anaheim’s Angel Stadium, which hosted the first-ever Triple Crown event, saw Team Honda HRC’s Cole Seely capture second overall for his first podium result of the season, with an impressive 1-2-7 tally. When the gate dropped for the first of three 450SX main events, Seely got off to a second-place start. He quickly moved his CRF450R into the lead on the opening lap and rode unchallenged for the remainder of the eight-minute-plus-one-lap race. In the second main, Seely got a top-five start and moved into second on lap two. He kept the leader honest, making advances toward the end of the race before a mistake forced him to settle for second. The evening’s final race proved to be the biggest challenge as a less-than-desirable getaway left Seely nearly 14th on the first lap. The Californian spent the 15-minute contest maneuvering through the field to salvage a seventh-place finish, enough to wrap up second overall.
With Saturday’s race marking the one-year anniversary of Ken Roczen’s frightening crash, the German had a challenging evening overcoming his subconscious. Although he had hoped for another podium finish, he was pleased to put this race behind him and walk away healthy with a ninth-overall result. In the first main event, Roczen took an eighth-place start and then struggled to find his rhythm, losing spots before taking the checkered flag in 11th. Another poor start in the second race left him outside the top 15 on the first lap, but he advanced to 12th by the finish. The last main saw Roczen start near the front before settling into fourth on lap five, which is where he finished.
On Friday night, Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen and Cole Seely joined GEICO Honda’s Jeremy Martin, Christian Craig, and Chase Sexton in an appearance at Del Amo Motorsports Orange County for a pre-race Supercross party, where fans had the opportunity to hang out and get autographs from their favorite Red Riders.
Competition was fierce during the daytime qualifying sessions, with a mere .729 seconds separating the top 12 riders. Roczen secured the sixth-quickest time with a 50.746” lap, while Seely was seventh with a 50.799” time. Both marks were secured in the second session.
For opening ceremonies and the evening’s first main event, Roczen chose to make a bold statement by using the same yellow Shift gear that he was wearing one year ago in his horrific, injury-inducing crash. “It was my idea to wear the same gear from last year’s crash,” Roczen said. “It was all about making a statement and I think it did that. Not everyone was crazy about the idea, but I’m not superstitious and felt this was a cool way to officially put everything behind me and move forward.”
The new Triple Crown format was an adjustment for not only for riders but also mechanics, as they were not given a lot of time between main events to prepare for the evening’s next race. With no issues throughout the night, it wasn’t a huge factor, but Seely’s mechanic Rich Simmons explained that had damage been incurred, things might not have been as easy. “There was only about an hour between each race tonight,” said Simmons. “If you take into consideration spending 10 minutes down on the track for podium stuff after the race, then needing to be staged 20 minutes prior to the race, we don’t have a ton of time at the truck. Luckily, we didn’t have any issues, but if we had it would’ve been tough to turn around. I don’t like that we’re pressed on time to get down there, then sit in staging or on the gate for 25 minutes.”
MotoConcept Honda’s Justin Brayton was impressive all day, locking in the fifth-fastest qualifying time in practice before putting together three solid main-event rides to secure fourth overall with 2-6-3 finishes.
For GEICO Honda’s Jeremy Martin, Anaheim two marked his third and final appearance in the 450SX class. With 15-15-10 finishes in the Triple Crown, Martin scored 12th overall aboard his CRF450R. The Minnesota native will now shift his focus back to the 250 class where he’ll be contesting in the 250SX East Championship beginning on February 17 in Arlington, Texas.
The Triple Crown event proved beneficial for GEICO Honda’s Christian Craig, who made his first podium appearance of the season, scoring third overall with 2-3-5 finishes. Despite having a disappointing overall result, Craig’s teammate Chase Sexton had a few noteworthy moments throughout the evening. The rookie scored the holeshot in two of the three main events before leading a majority of the final main event and eventually crossing the finish line in third.
Following his solid second-place finish, Seely moved up two spots in the championship standing, sitting second with 59 points, while Roczen is fourth with 56.
This Saturday, Team Honda HRC will campaign round 4 of the AMA Supercross series, in Glendale, Arizona. The evening before the race, a rider appearance is scheduled at RideNow Powersports in Peoria.
Cole Seely 14
“It feels great to be back on the podium. Leading some laps in the first race definitely helped boost my confidence, but I was happier with the way I rode in the second main event. Eli [Tomac] was going fast so to be able stick with him and almost challenge for the lead before making that mistake was huge. I was definitely feeling a little pressure on the gate of the last race because I just needed that last bit to close the deal. I knew I was riding really well in the first two mains, but sadly my start in the third race got me. [Weston] Peick kind of came over on me down the start-straight, so I got shuffled back and came around the first turn in around 14th. It was hectic coming through the pack. I ran out of steam in the end and wish I could’ve pushed forward a little more and made a few more passes. It had the win in my grasp and was so close.”
Ken Roczen 94
“Tonight was very interesting. It’s Anaheim 2, which is obviously where I crashed and even though I tried not to think about it at all, it lingered subconsciously in the back of my mind. I didn’t feel like myself at all out there. I was riding bad and couldn’t seem to do anything about it. I went into the first main, got a bad start, felt terrible on the track and basically went backwards. That definitely wasn’t the plan but the worst part was, I had two more to go [laughs]. Even though I didn’t feel good, it was great to just finish it and get this one off the checklist. It was big night and obviously, it could’ve gone worse—as we saw here last year. We’re walking away from here super healthy and looking forward to next weekend’s race. All in all, it’s a tough pill to swallow as a rider because I want to win or at least battle for the win. It for sure wasn’t there today though. I want to move on, forget about tonight and start looking forward to the next one.”
“It was a really solid night for Cole. I was glad to see him get great starts in those first two races. Unfortunately, in the last one, the start is what got him. He still rode incredibly hard and came through the pack as quick as he could but it really set him back. I think the sprint-style format of the first two races played into Cole’s favor, he was strong and aggressive, but it really came down mainly to the starts. He’s continuously improving each week so I anticipate him being on the podium much more this season. I think Ken’s starts had a lot to do with his struggles tonight. When he was in back, it was really hectic and there was a lot of banging going on, so I think that may have shook his confidence a little. The way the track was, there wasn’t a big difference in lap times so you really had to get a start to be up there. I was glad to see him bounce back with fourth in the last race, so that was a good way to end it.”
Mechanic (Cole Seely)
I thought Cole’s performance was good all day. He was riding awesome and looked strong. Overall it was a big improvement and we just need to bring that to each race. The track was so basic; you shouldn’t get a bad start, but if you do, there’s nothing to separate everyone. Everyone is going the same speed and taking the same lines so passing was pretty hard. Cole did make some great passes in both the second and third race, but it was follow-the-leader for the most part.”
Mechanic (Ken Roczen)
“It was just one of those days when we didn’t get dealt the right cards and are happy it’s over. Ken started off the night with two bad starts, and the track was so one-lined, everyone was going the same speed, making it hard to pass. He wasn’t himself for a lot of the day though; he rode tight and a little tentative. As much as he tried not to, I’m sure he had last year on his mind. I didn’t want to come back here, so I can only imagine how he was feeling. I think it would be hard not to let it be a factor, especially with everyone else making it such a big deal.”
Words and pic: HRC Honda