MILLVILLE, Minn. (July 18, 2016) – Ken Roczen seemed a bit off his game two races ago at Southwick, and the questions abounded throughout the week of whether or not the rider of the No. 94 RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/Suzuki Factory Racing RM-Z450 had peaked too soon.
Roczen answered those questions with authority on Saturday afternoon when the 22-year-old German rider spanked the field and put together his fifth perfect afternoon of the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. At the same time, Roczen stretched his points lead to 55 over second-place Eli Tomac with four races left on the 2016 schedule.
When the starting gate dropped on the first 450 Class moto of the day, Roczen secured his footing near the front of the field and spent much of the opening lap stalking Justin Barcia for second. After making the pass on Barcia, just before completing the first lap, he set his sights on Southwick winner Eli Tomac for the top spot.
The 2014 Pro Motocross Champion reeled in Tomac near the one-third mark and never looked back. By the time the checkers waved on the first premier class moto of the day, Roczen had stretched his lead to nearly eight seconds before collecting his 12th moto win of the season.
While he was able to go two-for-two and win the second moto of the day and 13th of the season by almost 30 seconds, the victory came with a bit of a twist, or bend if you will.
“Took the first moto after some battling with Eli (Tomac),” explained Roczen. “Second moto, we got off to a rough start. I almost went down and then in the second turn, I bent my shifter really bad and I missed shifting a bunch of times. It was pretty sketchy so I tried not to shift too much and ride a safe race. I fought my way to the front again and we came away with another win. That’s what we’re shooting for every single weekend no matter how big the gap is and we pulled it off.
“I’m a racer so my mind is just getting to the front. At first, I didn’t know what was going on. I mis-shifted and almost went over the bars twice. I was like ‘what the heck?’ And then I looked down and the thing (shifter) didn’t look right. So, from then on, I just kind of put my rear-end back and kept it in third and went wherever the other guys didn’t go to try and make passes.”
Unfortunately, Roczen’s brilliance was clouded when his RCH teammate Broc Tickle was collected in a scary mid-race incident in the first moto. As Tickle and Weston Peick were racing for position, Peick cross-rutted as he approached the face of a tabletop causing his machine to veer to the opposite side of the landing area where Tickle was already committed. As a result, Tickle landed on top of Peick and neither rider was able to finish the race or return for the second moto. Tickle is expected to be on the starting gate for Round 8 at Washougal this weekend but will continue to be evaluated on a daily basis leading up to the event.
“I really like Millville and I was bummed with how the day ended up turning out but it could have been a lot worse,” Tickle said. “Practice went pretty well. I was really looking forward to the motos. I started the first moto in about 14th, made some passes and got up to about seventh. I was close to (Weston) Peick and he cross-rutted on this little tabletop. I went to the outside and he came across the track. I ended up landing on his head and both of us crashed and didn’t race in the second moto.
“It was a tough weekend for me. I didn’t want to accept not racing in the second moto but I felt like it was the best choice to make at the time. I’m going to get looked at this week and make sure there’s nothing too serious and hopefully head to Washougal, into the break, and hit the last three. I feel like I have some more podiums to get and that I’m capable of doing it. The focus for me right now is see what’s going on with my body, make sure there’s nothing too serious and go from there.”
The first moto from the Peterson CAT Washougal National in Washougal, Wash., will be televised live on MAVTV Sat., July 23 beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 1 p.m. Pacific. Coverage for the second moto will shift to NBCSN at 6:30 p.m. EDT, 3:30 p.m. Pacific. All motos can also be streamed live online through ProMotocross.com or the NBC Sports Live Extra app. More than 60 hours of coverage will be featured on NBC, NBCSN, and MAVTV throughout the 12-round championship, highlighted by nearly 40 hours of LIVE coverage and three hour-long showcases on network television via NBC.