|In only his third race back from injury, Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen continued his amazing progression, battling hard for the lead in both motos at the Thunder Valley National to score his first overall podium of the season, landing second with 2-2 results at round three of the AMA Pro Motocross series.
When the gate dropped for the first moto, the German got off to a seventh-place start, but he moved up to fifth by the green flag. He had advanced to third before the race was red-flagged and everyone was forced to return to the starting line. On the restart, Roczen rocketed his CRF450R to the holeshot and, after briefly surrendering the front spot, regained it later in the opening lap and maintained it for over half the race. Coming under severe pressure from Eli Tomac, Roczen was able to evade the subsequent advances for several laps before relinquishing the lead on lap 10. He fought hard to make a counterattack but was eventually forced to settle for second.
In moto two, Roczen got off to a fourth-place start but blitzed the downhill to quickly move into second. He closed in on the leader, and a three-way battle for the top position ensued, with Roczen falling to third in the battle. The top two riders tangled on the next lap, which gave Roczen the opportunity to take the lead. He stayed smooth and consistent up front before once again coming under fire, and after fighting tooth and nail for several laps, he slipped to second with 10 minutes remaining.
- For the third consecutive week, recovering Team Honda HRC rider Cole Seely was with his team at the National. On Friday, he joined Ken Roczen and the GEICO Honda riders for an autograph session at the local Honda Powerhouse dealership, Peak Honda World in Littleton. While at the race, Seely signed autographs for fans before heading to the Pro Motocross TV compound to commentate alongside Jason Weigandt and Grant Langston during the pre-race qualifying show. “It’s been awesome coming to the first few rounds to hang out with my team,” Seely said later. “I hadn’t been to a race since Tampa, so to get out and be around everyone was great for me. My recovery is going well and I actually did my first little workout last week. I was so sore after [laughs]! I’m supposed to be able to start riding September 1 so I still have some time, but I’m excited to keep building my strength in the meantime.”
- The day started on a positive note, as Roczen secured the second-fastest time during the morning’s second qualifying session, with a solid 2’06.697” lap.
- At 5,500 ft. elevation, the Thunder Valley track poses its challenges for not only the riders, but mechanics as well. “Obviously at elevation the bike is going to run a little slower,” explained Roczen’s mechanic Oscar Wirdeman. “Luckily, our bike is really fast already and we normally slow it down for Ken anyways, so we had a lot of extra power we were able to add here, with ignition and mapping stuff. Even this morning the bike was still too fast for him so we had to tune it down, which is good because the elevation doesn’t affect us as much as it could. You also want to check all the fluids at elevation. We obviously blead the brakes when we build the bikes, but we check it and do it again up here.”
- On race day, Team Honda HRC was pleased to have two-time U.S. Olympic Gold Medal skier Mikaela Shiffrin stop by their pits for a meet-and-greet with fellow Red Bull athlete Ken Roczen. Although the two had never met previously, there is a connection as Shiffrin’s father is an anesthesiologist at the Steadman Clinic in Vail and worked with Roczen on a few of his surgeries. Additionally, Roczen watched the Winter Olympics on television while in Vail and became a big fan of Shiffrin as she competed in PyeongChang. “It was awesome having Mikaela at the race today,” Roczen said. “I love any Olympic sports. She was really cool and a big fan, so it was nice to exchange some stories.”
- Roczen’s Colorado performance moved him up two positions in the championship standings, to fifth, with 97 points.
- It was a stellar day for GEICO Honda’s Jeremy Martin, who powered his CRF250R to his first overall win of the season with 2-1 moto finishes, moving into the championship points lead, which means the No. 6 machine will be adorned with the red plate at the next round. Teammate Chase Sexton secured seventh overall with 10-6 marks, while RJ Hampshire rounded out the top 10 with 13-7 scores.
- Team Honda HRC will take a one-week hiatus before returning to action on June 16 for round four at High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania.