Roczen on his first podium since his injury
PR- Round 2 of the AMA Supercross series, held at Houston’s NRG Stadium, was an exciting one for Team Honda HRC, as Ken Roczen put together an impressive ride, leading much of the main event and finishing second in only his second race back after nearly a year off due to injury. When the gate dropped, the German launched his CRF450R to an upfront start, taking over the lead on lap two. On lap 14, Roczen relinquished the lead but rode smoothly and prudently to take the checkered flag in second place.
Teammate Cole Seely also had a noteworthy night, improving on his result from Anaheim to score fourth place. Following a top-five start, Seely quickly moved into fourth, then engaged in a heated battle before taking over third. It looked as though the Californian may join his teammate on the podium, but after eight laps he fell back to fourth, which is where he finished.
Prior to Saturday’s action, Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen and Cole Seely joined GEICO Honda’s Jeremy Martin, Christian Craig, and Chase Sexton for an appearance at Wild West Motoplex to hang out with fans and sign autographs at their pre-race Supercross party.
On Saturday morning, Red Rider Adam Enticknap (No. 722) presented Roczen with the fan-voted “Seven Deuce Deuce Pulp MX” Lit Kit Award for his custom Anaheim 1 Fox gear, which was all-white with multi-colored left arm.
During Saturday’s timed qualifying sessions, Roczen was again the top Honda racer, laying down a 53.418” lap in the second session to score the second-fastest time of the day, while teammate Seely was fourth-quickest with a 53.527”. MotoConcept Honda’s Justin Brayton secured fifth, followed by GEICO Honda’s Jeremy Martin in sixth and MotoConcepts rider Vince Friese rounded out the top 10.
In the evening program, Roczen and Seely finished 1-2 in the first heat race, transferring them both directly into the main event. While leading, Roczen laid down the quickest lap of the race with a 53.552”.
For the second consecutive week, Honda had the most bikes of any manufacturer finishing in the top 10 of daytime qualifying and the main event.
The Houston track showcased long rhythm lanes, crossing the start straight six different times, as well as a deep sand section, which added a unique element to the evening’s racing. “I thought the track layout tonight was cool,” Roczen said. “It’s been a while since I’ve raced in a football stadium and they have a lot of open space to work with. There were a lot of spots we launched across the start straight. The track was pretty soft and with that, the bottoms of the jumps are changing all the time. Once everyone keeps hitting the same line, it just gets deeper and deeper. We even got down to the floor in certain spots. It was a tough track but still fun.”
It was a solid night for the GIECO Honda team, as rookie Chase Sexton finished second in his heat before scoring his first-ever podium result in the main event with a third. Despite an injured ankle, teammate Christian Craig put together an impressive performance, taking the checkered flag in fourth. During his second of three scheduled appearances in the 450SX class, Jeremy Martin overcame a mishap on the first lap of the main that saw him go off the track, rejoin the race in nearly last, and charge forward to finish 10th.
Roczen now sits second overall in the championship standings with 42 points, while Seely is fourth with 36.
Next weekend, Team Honda HRC heads back to Southern California for their second and final stop at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. On Friday, the Honda Red Riders will attend an autograph signing at Del Amo Orange County from 6-7:30 p.m.
Ken Roczen 94
“This was a good weekend for us. I’m really stoked to be able to deliver a podium to the team in only our second race back. I would’ve loved to win it obviously, but Jason [Anderson] was going good all day so I wasn’t going to just send it and do something stupid. I had two good starts in the heat and main event and just tried to ride smart in both. I had some good battles with Justin [Barcia] and Jason; it was clean and fun. We’re moving in the right direction. It’s only the second round and everything is going how we planned. I don’t think there’s much more we could ask for.”
Cole Seely 14
“I’m frustrated with tonight because Justin [Barcia] shouldn’t have gotten back by me, but overall fourth is still good. Other riders had much worse nights than I did so I can’t really complain. I had a hard time getting back into my flow and hitting my lines after he got back by me. We’re still making progress and I’m happy about that; I just want to get on the podium where I belong. and tonight I was so close.”
“That was as good as a win tonight. It was great to see Ken back on the podium. He’s right on his plan of just building every week and making more progress. He’s getting more comfortable on the bike and in race situations, so he’ll continue to chip away at it each week. I think we’re seeing a more mature and experienced Ken. He knows he’s in this for the long haul and is working on staying smart and gaining momentum. Cole rode well tonight too. He still has some things to work on, but it’s early in the season and he’s already improving. His starts were better today, he was working on different lines all day, and his aggression was there in the heat race. He battled hard to get around Barcia in the main and really should’ve beat him, but he made some mistakes that I think kind of rattled him and caused him to tighten up. He just needs to go back and learn from these mistakes and improve for next week.”
Mechanic (Ken Roczen)
“Tonight was awesome. Ken got a good start and won his heat race, got another good start in the main, and led over half the race. Anderson was just a little faster and got by him but he rode super smart to the end. I think Ken has matured a lot in a year. He seems to be playing the cards he’s dealt rather than pushing too hard and getting sketchy—just thinking about it a little more. I think he’s looking at the big picture more than ever. Our overall setting was quite different than last weekend. We tested a lot during the week with Showa and made the bike a lot stiffer, which was a great thing for this track. Throughout the day we just fine-tuned it a little more as the track developed.”
Mechanic (Cole Seely)
“Tonight was better than Anaheim. Cole was better in practice, better in the heat race for sure, and got better starts than last week. He had good intensity for the first 10 or more minutes, but he just really needs to improve that last half of the race. I think the battle with Barcia spiked his heart rate a little. He got away for a bit but with the track breaking down, not being able to take his own lines with lappers, and Barcia hunting him, just got to him. We didn’t really make too many adjustments throughout the day. We made the shock stiffer during the week but overall he wa