Roczen Back in Points Lead After Minneapolis Supercross2019-02-11 17:07
Ken Roczen continued his consistent 2019 AMA Supercross season at round six in Minneapolis, notching a steady runner-up finish in U.S. Bank Stadium and reassuming a slim lead in the championship chase. The Team Honda HRC rider, who has yet to finish outside of the top five this year aboard his CRF450R, started the main event in third place and rode there for 15 laps before putting a pass on Joey Savatgy to take over second place. With the leader out of reach by that point, the German held his position to the finish.
Teammate Cole Seely managed a decent start and was in the top eight for the first five laps, but when he tried to make a pass on Justin Barcia, the two collided and Seely went down. The Californian remounted around 15thand began working his way forward, eventually finishing the 20-lap race in 11th.
Now that the AMA Supercross series has headed east for a month and a half, Ken Roczen has relocated back to his home in Florida, while teammate Cole Seely is still based at his home in Costa Mesa, California. Periodic rain in the Golden State has made it difficult for Seely to maintain a regular practice schedule, and the trend is expected to continue this week. “At the end of the month, I’m moving to Florida too, but until then we’ll just do our best to deal with the weather,” Seely said.
Though the weather was more cooperative in Florida, Roczen’s practice schedule was also disrupted, as he spent much of the week letting his skin recover from the rash caused by lime that organizers had put in the wet dirt at last week’s San Diego Supercross. Roczen only got in one day of practice but hopes to be back to his regular schedule this week.
When he’s not training or practicing, Seely has been keeping busy lately with a bike-build project on his new Honda CRF450L dual-sport machine. He and friend Mike Ojeda of Bleach Design Werks recently completed the teardown stage, and Seely has been uploading vlogs to his YouTube page, though he’s keeping his cards close to his chest when it comes to revealing his plans for the build itself.
On Friday night, Team Honda HRC’s Roczen and Seely joined GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton and Christian Craig for a rider appearance at Cities Edge Motorsports in Shakopee, though they came close to not making it in time. “With the riders coming into sub-zero temperatures and snow on the ground, they both had delayed flights,” Team Manager Erik Kehoe explained. “As soon as they landed, they just soldiered on and got over to the dealership—they didn’t even stop to eat! There were a lot of people enduring the cold, and it was a great autograph signing.”
Minnesota was the first round of the season where the pits weren’t in the parking lot, but instead were inside, out of the cold. “The trucks were out in the snow, so we had to unload all of our essentials and bring them down to our makeshift pit area in the tunnel,” Kehoe explained. “It took everyone out of their routine, but we adapted.” The Team Honda HRC mechanics used warmers on the tires and suspension to keep the bikes working consistently.
Lap times during the daytime qualifying-practice sessions were extremely cloe, with the top 12 riders within just over a second. MotoConcepts Honda’s Vince Friese was the top Red Rider, posting a 47.168” time that proved to be sixth-fastest. Teammate Justin Brayton was next at 47.307”, with Roczen eighth at 47.412”. Seely posted a 47.679” lap that was the 11th-quickest time.
Despite a sore thumb, Brayton scored an impressive win in the second heat race aboard his CRF450R after leading almost the entire race. Meanwhile Seely was sixth in that race, whereas Roczen had finished third in the previous heat.
Minneapolis marked the first round of the season for the 250SX East Region riders, and GEICO Honda racer Chase Sexton notched a fifth-place finish after suffering a crash in the main event. Meanwhile, teammate Christian Craig suffered through the pain of a recovering thumb and was credited with 20th
The 450SX points chase has been extremely close this year, and through the first six rounds, the top four riders are within two points of one another. “We’ve switched red plates quite a bit this year,” Roczen said. “I haven’t won yet, so I can’t let anybody get too far away. It’s still early, and it’s just good to keep it consistent.”
This coming Saturday, Team Honda HRC will be in action at round seven of the AMA Supercross series at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Ken Roczen 94
“I had a little wheelie on the start, and I came around in third. I was just in third forever because it's just really hard to pass out there; it gets rutty and we’re all kind of taking similar lines. I felt really good, but I couldn't ever make the pass happen, and once Cooper [Webb] got by Joey [Savatgy], he gapped us. I wish I would’ve had a clear lap earlier because I feel like I could’ve done a charge toward the end, but with these turns and the intensity we brought, I didn’t want to just do a silly, aggressive move and bump up on the inside. I just took a little bit too long, but I’m happy with second place and back in the points lead. I still want to win, but it’s all good to get out of here healthy.”
Cole Seely 14
“The track was pretty simple so the practice times were pretty close. I knew going in that the start was going to mean a lot, but unfortunately I didn't get a good one in the heat race. Still, I found my lines and was happy with my speed in the second half of the heat race. That translated into the main event because I was riding really good, and then just before the halfway mark I got cut off by another rider when I was trying to make a pass. I got up and tried to keep my focus forward even though my bike was a little banged up. I managed to pass a few guys. I feel like I’m riding well, but things aren’t really going my way. I’ll keep plugging away and wait for my luck to turn.”
“It was a great weekend for Ken overall, getting second place and getting back in the points lead, even though we’re only six rounds in. The track conditions were a little bit different than they’ve been at the first few rounds, and everybody was doing the same lines. That meant starts were going to be really important; we’ve been working on that, and when it came time, he pulled them off. The leaders were together there for quite a while in the main, and he showed a lot of patience, which could be important for the long run. Unfortunately, Cole didn't get the result that he wanted, but he continues to make progress with his speed. He was running really well just behind that lead pack and then he had a collision but got back up and soldiered on. He continues to get stronger and build his confidence, and he knows that he can finish higher.”
Mechanic (Ken Roczen)
“Ken had a solid weekend considering he couldn’t ride much this week. His daytime qualifying position was only eighth, but he felt good so it was okay. In his heat race he almost got the holeshot but let off a bit early and got third, right behind the leaders. He started top-five in the main, but it was a tough track to pass on. He took too long to get around Savatgy, and Cooper made up a gap and ended up second. Overall, I’m happy. We made no bike changes all weekend and we’re leaving injury-free and with the points lead.”
Mechanic (Cole Seely)
“We struggled to find speed during practice and then made a couple changes during the day to try to get Cole comfortable and get his intensity up. Unfortunately he had a bad start in the heat race, and then with everyone taking the same options in the rhythms, Cole took a while to get going. We had an outside gate for the main event, but he actually made it work pretty well and sent into the first corner about top-five. He was in that lead freight train the first few laps and was trying to make some passes, and then [Justin] Barcia made a little mistake and Cole clipped him and found himself on the ground. It was a frustrating night for him, but a lot of things are moving in the right direction. We’ll just stick with the program, and it will come together one of these nights.”
Source: Honda Racing Corporation
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