In hot, humid conditions at what is arguably the roughest circuit of the AMA Pro Motocross series, Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen continued his positive return from injuries, tallying 5-5 moto finishes for fifth overall in Southwick, Massachusetts, home of The Wick 338.
Racing at a circuit he hadn’t been to since 2016, the German kicked off the racing with a convincing moto-one holeshot aboard his CRF450R and held the lead for four laps before being overtaken by a battle involving the three riders who would eventually occupy the podium. Lap 13 saw him lose an additional spot, and he completed the final three laps in fifth. The second moto was steadier for the German, who started in fourth place before quickly advancing to third. Lap six saw him slip back a place, and he relinquished another spot three laps later to assume fifth, the position in which he would finish the moto.
- Morning practice saw Ken Roczen post a best lap time of 2’11.033”. The time, which came in the second session, earned him the sixth gate pick.
- The second-best Red Rider in the 450MX class was Lorenzo Locurcio, whose 7-7 moto finishes secured a commendable seventh overall. It was the Venezuelan’s best-ever AMA Pro Motocross result.
- While Roczen continues to make gains with his fitness, he’s also experiencing progress with the aftereffects of his injuries. One small-but-appreciated step was the fact that he was able to switch from taping his right arm to using a wrist brace at Southwick. “Getting everything ready for the tape takes a lot of time, so I’m glad I was able to practice and race without tape this week,” he said.
- As The Wick 338 is the sandiest track of the year, Team Honda HRC used a unique setup compared to the other rounds, with changes to the suspension and gearing, and of course Roczen’s CRF450R had Dunlop sand tires mounted.
- As has been the case at the last few rounds, mechanic Rich Simmons was on hand at Southwick to lend a hand, and he reported that his rider Cole Seely is making progress with his recovery. “He just had a doctor’s appointment, and everything’s looking good,” Simmons said. “He’s riding his mountain bike on a paved path, his spirits are good, and everything is on track. Hopefully I’ll do some mountain biking with him this week, although I’m still pretty out of shape compared to him!”
- With Jeremy Martin now out for the remainder of the season, RJ Hampshire, Chase Sexton, and Cameron Mcadoo were left to fly the GEICO Honda flag in the 250MX class at Southwick, and Hampshire put in a 7-3 moto tally for a respectable fourth overall. Sexton went 5-14 for eighth, while Mcadoo notched 9-13 results for 11th.
- Team Honda HRC and Ken Roczen were pleased to work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to host Jaiden Britt and his family at Southwick. After traveling from their Texas home on Friday, the Britts headed to The Wick 338 on Saturday morning by limousine, with a police escort organized by Make-A-Wish volunteer Tom Convery. Once at the track, they had the chance to meet Roczen, who gifted Jaiden with a signed jersey, to tour the Honda tech truck, and to enjoy lunch with the team. For the actual racing, MX Sports set up the Britts with passes to a trackside VIP hospitality tent.
- Next up for the AMA Pro Motocross series is the popular RedBud round in Buchanan, Michigan, which will host the teams and riders on July 7.
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“It was a little bit of a struggle. We made some changes to the bike to help me out a little bit, but you don’t want to make too many changes on race day. It’s still a learning curve after so much time off the bike. I’m trying everything at home to get back, but I feel like race shape is just going to take a little time. Today was brutal—super-hot and the track was pretty beat—plus I haven’t been here in a couple years. I fought it out, and I’m just going to continue working with the team and working on myself to get better. I’m healthy and got good starts again, so I’m pretty happy from that side. I’ve been going quite hard throughout the week, trying to put in more and more work, but I think sometimes it’s good to take it a notch down and fully recover. RedBud could be another hot one, so we’ll recover and hopefully have a good race next weekend.”
“This was probably the toughest track and toughest conditions of the year, and definitely the sandiest race. I think getting out of here with a fifth place is good, especially because Kenny learned some more this week about the bike, about his fitness, and about this track. Every week, we’re learning more and getting stronger and stronger.”
Words and pic: HRC Honda