Roczen: It’s a bummer to lose the points lead
The 2020 AMA Supercross series’ seventh round and its first trip to the East Coast saw a return to the podium for Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen, who took a heat-race win before charging to a third-place finish in Tampa, Florida’s Raymond James Stadium.
Unable to replicate the strong starts that led to his early season success, Roczen struggled off the line in the main event and had to rely on well-timed passes to close in on the frontrunners. A mid-race fall hindered progress but didn’t deter the German; after losing the front on the backside of a triple while chasing down Cooper Webb, Roczen put in a string of consistent laps to get back into podium contention. Following a mistake by Adam Cianciarulo and a pass on Malcolm Stewart, Roczen rode a smart race to bring home his fifth podium result of the season.
Justin Brayton’s race was also marred by a poor start, and though he fought hard to come within striking distance of a top-five finish, the Team Honda HRC rider struggled through the final four laps and settled for ninth place.
- On Friday night, Xtreme Powersports hosted an open house, where hundreds of fans showed up despite on-and-off rain showers. Attendees had the opportunity to meet and get autographs from their favorite Red Riders, including Ken Roczen and Justin Brayton. Alongside the Team Honda HRC duo were GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton, Jo Shimoda and Jeremy Martin. Team BWR was also in attendance, making it no fewer than eight Honda racers at the table.
- Roczen and Brayton showed a strong, consistent pace all day long, with Roczen qualifying second by way of a 48.052” lap time. Brayton was 10thquickest at 48.931”.
- While Roczen’s bike will no longer carry the red number plates that denote the series’ points leader, his podium finish helped to minimize the deficit. He now sits in second place, just four points from the lead. Brayton gained one position and now sits eighth.
- With the series now in the East Region, Roczen has transitioned from California to his home in Clermont, Florida, a move that simplified travel for this event. “This almost felt like an off weekend because on Friday I stayed home for quite some time and was able to do my stretching and all my stuff there,” he said. “It’s kind of nice having a whole lot less travel. I love it being here on the East coast.” Brayton has also switched back to his home in North Carolina.
- GEICO Honda moved on from its challenging 250SX West season to kick off the 250SX East series in excellent fashion. Quick all day, defending champ Chase Sexton and teammate Jeremy Martin finished second and third, respectively, while Jo Shimoda took 10thin his rookie debut.
- Having dominated the early part of the 2020 AMA Arenacross series, Phoenix Racing’s Kyle Peters and Jace Owen showed up for the 250SX East opener and rode within the top 10 for much of the day. Peters finished seventh in the main event, while Owen settled for 11thfollowing a strong first half of the race.
- As has been the case at every race this year, there were more riders of Hondas than any other manufacturer in the 450SX main event, at six. Even more impressive, the same was true of the 250SX East opener, with no fewer than nine CRF250Rs entered in the main event.
- The supercross community showed its support for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through its “This Race Saves Lives” event, which teams acknowledged by running graphics and gear inspired by patients’ artwork. GEICO Honda’s race bikes wore white and black with a “Believe” graphic across the radiator shroud. Memorabilia is to be auctioned off, with all proceeds going to St. Jude.
- The Tampa round was the final race for Team Honda HRC Technical Director Takashi “Sam” Mishima, who is retiring after over 23 years with American Honda. To commemorate the occasion, everyone on the team (plus a few GEICO Honda members) presented Mishima with a cake and a special poster that they had all signed.