Roczen: A little bummed on his High Point National!
Coming off the season’s first break and his first full week of solid training at home in Florida, Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen was eager to return to action at Pennsylvania’s High Point Raceway for round four of the AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Although a crash thwarted his efforts at scoring another podium finish, the German and his team were pleased to walk away with fourth overall via 7-3 scores.
In moto 1, Roczen got a solid jump out of the gate but was involved in a large first-turn incident that left him and his CRF450R at the bottom of a pileup. He remounted in nearly last and began an impressive come-from-behind ride, advancing from 31stat the completion of the opening lap to seventh by the checkered flag. When the gate dropped for the second moto, Roczen was looking for redemption, rocketing down the start straight with the holeshot. On lap two, he made a mistake and lost a position. He tried to stay within striking distance of the leader while also fending off the advances from behind, but he eventually slipped to third, which is where he remained until the finish.
- The program for the High Point National differed from the previous three rounds, with the 450MX class scheduled to run first in practice and the motos.
- During the morning’s qualifying practice, Roczen spent much of the first session learning and getting comfortable with the new track layout, as he hadn’t raced at High Point since 2016. He found his stride in the second session, scoring the fifth-fastest time with a 1’59.248” lap.
- While battling for the lead in moto 2, Roczen laid down his fastest lap of the day and the second-fastest lap of the race, at 1’56.221”.
- While his squad was in Pennsylvania for High Point, recovering Team Honda HRC rider Cole Seely spent his weekend in Spain for the seventh round of MotoGP, at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. While at the race, Seely got the opportunity to spend time inside the Repsol Honda team garage and meet reigning World Champion and supercross enthusiast Marc Marquez. “It was a pretty last-minute decision to go to the race,” Seely said, “but with Adam [Cianciarulo] and me both hurt, we decided, Why not? We’ve both been wanting to go to a MotoGP in Europe, so now is the perfect time. He got us passes, and the team got me set up with Repsol Honda, so it was awesome.”
- Having torn his ACL on May 26 in the first moto at Glen Helen while filling in on Team Honda HRC, Christian Craig underwent successful surgery on June 6 and has begun his road to recovery. “Everything went great,” Craig reported. “I spent the first week icing nonstop, elevating, and going to physical therapy with Dr. G [H. Rey Gubernick]. I’m hoping to get healed up and try riding sometime in October. I could’ve taken the easy way out and not had the surgery so I could race, but I wanted to do the smart thing. Both the HRC and GEICO Honda teams agreed that this was the best thing to do. I’m happy everyone around me always has my best interests at heart and isn’t pressuring me to just be on the track. Being on the couch definitely isn’t fun, and I’m missing being at the races with the whole team.” Craig is spending time with his family in Minnesota for a couple of months, and will start physical therapy today (Monday). His wife Paige is scheduled to have their second baby in about a month.
- It was a long race day for Roczen’s mechanic, Oscar Wirdeman, as he traveled from California to Pennsylvania on a Friday-night flight, arriving at the High Point track minutes before the day’s first qualifying practice. “We sacrifice a lot for this job in terms of missing out on some things with our families, but it was important to me that I got to spend time with my daughter at her kindergarten graduation and dance recital,” Wirdeman explained. “Luckily, I found a red-eye flight that would get me to the race in time, and Rich [Simmons] was open to coming in early and filling in for me on Friday. Now that the day’s over, I could really use some sleep!”
- With his High Point performance, Roczen moved up one position in the championship standings, to fourth, with 131 points (just nine behind third), with 16 motos remaining in the season.
- Despite a tough first moto, it was still an exciting day for Team Honda HRC’s Toshiki Tomita, as he bounced back in the day’s second race to secure his career-best moto finish of 11then route to his best overall finish of 14th.
- The Honda Red Riders will return to action on June 23 for round 5 at Muddy Creek Raceway in Blountville, Tennessee. On Friday prior to the race, Roczen and the GEICO Honda squad will sign autographs at Atlas Motorsports in Bristol, beginning at 6 p.m.
Ken Roczen 94
“I kind of struggled with the track, especially in practice. I wasn’t really gelling with the new layout. As always though, I went to the first start confident. I got a decent jump, but there was a big pileup in the first turn that I was involved with. I got run over, had bikes on top of me, and was basically at the bottom of the pile. Luckily nothing was hurt or wrong with the bike, so I just had to come from behind and made my way up to seventh. After the first moto, I came back in and just tried to get as much rest as possible before the second race. I told Oscar [Wirdeman] that I was going to get the holeshot and I did, so I was pretty stoked about that. I tried to run up front as long as possible, but I didn’t have it today and faded. I still finished third, which is good. I have to be okay with it, even though I’m a little bummed. The first start crash could’ve been worse, and I’m happy I was able to bounce back in the second race with a good start and be up front for a bit. I’m happy with fourth overall.”
“Overall, today went pretty well considering how the first moto started. Ken is continuing to build and make progress each weekend, so we’re still on track. He delivered a solid result, is now fourth in points, and is leaving healthy, which is the number-one goal. We’re going to continue fine-tuning the bike while Ken works on himself and his hand, and we’ll come into Tennessee strong.”
Mechanic (Ken Roczen)
“Practice today was normal; we’re always a little off because Ken’s definitely more a racer than a qualifier. Then he had a pretty big start crash in the first moto and that kind of ruined the overall result, but he was still able to work his way back up into the top 10. I don’t know how, but the bike was actually pretty good after the crash. We had everything prepped and ready to change anything that was bent or tweaked between motos, but we didn’t have to use any of it. For the second moto, we just made a few adjustments to the shock to work better in the sticky and rutted conditions.”