Thrilling Second-Place Finish for Roczen at Oakland2018-02-06 08:53
It was an exhilarating night for Team Honda HRC at round five of the AMA Supercross series in Oakland, as Ken Roczen secured second place after a heated battle in the final laps of the race. When the gate dropped for the main event, both Roczen and teammate Cole Seely launched down the start straight, with Seely scoring the holeshot and early lead, while Roczen was tucked in behind him. It looked as though it might be a double podium for the Red Riders, as the duo ran 1-2 until nearly the halfway mark. On lap 11, Seely made a big mistake while leading, costing him several positions. He remounted in fourth but struggled to get back into his groove, losing two more spots before taking the checkered flag in sixth.
Meanwhile, back at the front, Roczen continued to put together solid laps and had his sights set on his first win of the season. As the German navigated the challenging track, lapped riders began to play a bigger role, and Roczen came under fire from Jason Anderson during the closing laps. Both riders made mistakes during their heated battle and swapped positions multiple times before Roczen was edged out by just .839 seconds at the end.
On Friday evening, Team Honda HRC riders Ken Roczen and Cole Seely, along with GEICO Honda’s Christian Craig and Chase Sexton, attended a pre-race Supercross party at Hayward, California’s East Bay Motorsports, where they signed autographs and posed for photos.
The Oakland Supercross was unique because it marked the first day race of the season. The schedule started three hours earlier than normal, with rider track walk at 7:30 a.m. and the racing concluding by 7 p.m. “I’m not a morning person at all, so it was tough getting up and getting to the track so much earlier than normal today,” Seely admitted. “It felt like we were at a motocross race. The overall schedule was the same, so nothing changed there, and it was really nice getting done by 7 so we can catch a flight home.”
During the day’s timed qualifying practice, Seely was impressive aboard his CRF450R, continuously battling for the top position before securing the fourth-quickest time, at 51.947’, in the second session. Roczen struggled to get comfortable with the Oakland soil, leaving him slightly off pace in 14th with a 53.397’ time.
In the evening program, Roczen wore a unique set of black-and-white riding gear that represents a collaboration between Fox Racing and See See Motorcycles, a Portland coffeehouse and apparel shop. See See promotes the popular One Motorcycle Show that kicks off February 9, when the gear will become available to the public. “We’re trying to tie ourselves in with brands that expand on the culture of riding, being passionate about the sport, and having fun, which fits Ken,” explained Clayton Williams, Fox’s Pro MX Team Manager. “Our designer really got into that idea of making something retro that was onboard with See See’s flat track ideas and their gear. What he wore was just a take on that, with the vintage leather-pants look with the different color jersey and ribbed neckline and cuffs.”
In 450SX heat one, Seely put together a flawless performance, grabbing the holeshot and riding unmatched for the entire six-minute-plus-one-lap race to take the win. Slotted in the same heat, Roczen got off to a top-10 start and moved into fifth by lap two. With less than two minutes remaining, he gained one more position to take the checkered flag in fourth.
Despite his sixth-place finish in the main event, Seely laid down the second-fastest lap of the race with a 51.083’ time.
Both riders had good starts in Oakland, and Erik Kehoe pointed to Team Honda HRC Technical Support Naoki Serizawa. “He has been a big help figuring that out,” the team manager said. Cole Seely’s mechanic Rich Simmons concurred, adding, “I have to give credit to Naoki because they worked on starts this week, and it helped with both guys getting good starts.”
After five rounds, Roczen sits second in the championship chase with 100 points, while Seely is fourth with 87. With MotoConcepts rider Justin Brayton sitting fifth, Red Riders hold three of the top five positions.
This week, the Honda Red Riders head back to Southern California for round six at Petco Park in downtown San Diego. On Friday from 6 to 7:30 p.m., the riders will take part in a dealer appearance at South Bay Motorsports.
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Ken Roczen 94
“It was a great race tonight. I was really bummed because we worked so hard just to pretty much give away the win on the last half of a lap. All in all though, we’re healthy and in the championship hunt so it was a good night. We’re moving forward and getting that much closer. I got a good start and tucked right in there behind Cole. He was going really good but made a mistake in front of me and I took over the lead. I was trying not to get too amped up and push even more because I knew the track was going to get worse and worse. It’s easy, especially in those tight rhythm sections, to rush and possibly make a mistake, so I just tried to be patient. There were definitely a few close calls out there with lappers and the track, but I feel like I rode pretty clean for most of the race. The last couple laps were something else though. Jason [Anderson] got by me somehow—can’t even remember to be honest because it was like tunnel vision—but we had a good battle to the very end. I really wanted that win but it was good to lead laps. We’ve got a lot more races to go so we’ll keep chipping away at it.”
Cole Seely 14
“I’m pretty upset and bummed tonight, but at the same time happy with the progress that I showed. I felt strong all day. During the main event, I got another great start and was hitting my marks well. I was putting down consistent laps but couldn’t shake Kenny; he was applying pressure on me the whole time. We came up on lappers and one didn’t get out of the main line for a while, which forced me to take another line that I hadn’t taken before. That’s when I made that big mistake that cost me the lead and even a podium. I got back going in around fourth, but it took me some time to get back into a rhythm and I ended up losing two more spots. It’s part of racing and everyone out there was dealing with the same conditions and situations, but it’s still unfortunate that lappers play such a huge factor. I know I’m capable of running up front and really want to get a win.”
“It was definitely an exciting night! I know Cole is disappointed with the end result and even Ken was upset that the win kind of slipped through his fingers, but they both made good progress today. Ken was really able to turn his day around after struggling in qualifying with bike setup. I like Ken’s fire; that’s what makes him who he is and really drives him to want more. Cole led almost half the main event, which is a huge confidence builder. He knows he’s right there and what he has to do to get up front, but the track was just really tough and a mistake cost him.”
Mechanic (Ken Roczen)
“The day didn’t completely start how we’d like. After first practice, we put a new shock on that we’ve been testing and that Ken has really liked, but it didn’t really gel with this track or the conditions, so for the heat race we ended up going back to last weekend’s setting. In the main he got a great start and was up front, led a lot of laps, but a couple mistakes in the end cost him the lead. It was a hectic and crazy last two laps. I thought after the first mistake Ken made that it was over, then they just kept swapping back and forth. It sucks losing it on the last lap but every week we’re getting closer and closer, so we’ll just keep plugging away for that first win.”
Mechanic (Cole Seely)
“From last week to this week, I think the main difference we saw is starting off the first practice with intensity. For Cole, he has to ride consecutive laps to get going and really get warmed up, and he did that today in every practice—charged out with aggression and laid down good times. I also know he was disappointed in himself from last weekend, so I think that probably helped provide a little extra motivation today to show that the work he has been putting in is paying off. The guy that we saw last weekend in the main event isn’t who he is, and tonight he really showed what he’s capable of. Everything was better tonight. For bike setup, we started off the day a little stiffer in the front than we normally would run and a little taller in the rear, but we didn’t change much—only one click in the rear all day. The track was changing all day, even every lap, but you couldn’t really set your bike up to anticipate that. Overall he’s really happy with his setup right now.”
Source: Honda Racing Corporation
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