Roczen Seventh at Inaugural Denver Supercross

Courtesy of Honda Racing Corporation

The first AMA Supercross in Denver on Saturday night was a challenging one for Team Honda HRC, as Ken Roczen fought the elevation at Mile High Stadium on his way to a seventh-place result, while teammate Cole Seely finished 19thafter a crash and another mishap that forced him into the mechanics area for repairs. When the gate dropped on the night’s main event, both riders got off to less-than-desirable starts, with Roczen in ninth and Seely outside the top 10. The German quickly made passes, working his way into sixth by lap seven. He closed the gap on the group of riders in front of him, but exhaustion set in and he was never able to make further progress. Roczen relinquished one position during the closing laps, taking the checkered flag in seventh. Meanwhile, Seely had been running 11thwhen a crash on lap five sent him back to 20th. He remounted, only to have a run-in with another rider, resulting in broken spokes in his front wheel and prompting a visit to the mechanics area for a wheel change. The Californian returned to the race a few laps down but still rode to the finish, recording 19thplace. NOTES Peak Honda World in Littleton, Colorado, hosted Friday night’s pre-race supercross party, with a strong turnout of fans waiting in line to meet their favorite racers. Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen and Cole Seely, GEICO Honda’s RJ Hampshire and Cameron McAdoo, and BWR Honda’s Carlen Gardner and Robbie Wageman were on hand to sign autographs and take pictures with the fans. To accommodate NBCSN’s coverage of the NHL hockey playoffs, the Denver Supercross ran one hour earlier than initially planned, with the night program starting at 5 p.m. “I actually liked today’s schedule,” Seely said. “It wasn’t super early like when we do day races, but being done by 8:30 was really nice. I wouldn’t mind all the races starting an hour early.” Severe weather has been a common theme of the 2019 season, and this weekend in Denver was no different. Snow fell in the days leading up to the event, and race day was marked by frigid temperatures and even a snowstorm, creating a challenge for the racers. “During track walk I had those hand and feet warmers in, and that worked really good,” Seely said. “While riding it didn’t actually feel that bad because you’re working so hard, but I did have a compression shirt underneath to try and keep me a little warmer. I brought a few different options in case I needed more layers. The only thing that really got cold were my fingers but Trey [Canard, the team test rider] told me about a trick, so for the later qualifying sessions I actually put on latex gloves—with the palms cut out—under my gloves. It did help.” Cycra hand guards were once again mounted on Roczen’s CRF450R, but this time it was with the purpose of deflecting some of the cold air, rather than rocks. During timed qualifying practice, both riders struggled to find their rhythm on the fast Denver track, with Seely scoring the seventh-fastest time via a 43.835” lap, while Roczen was eighth at 43.837”. Slotted in 450SX heat 1, Roczen got a mediocre start, completing the first lap in seventh. He continued to work his way forward throughout the 10-lap race, taking the checkers in fourth after a last-lap pass. In the second 450SX heat race, Seely took the holeshot and early lead aboard his CRF450R. He rode smooth and controlled up front, scoring his third heat-race win of the season. In the 250SX West region competition, GEICO Honda’s RJ Hampshire struggled off the main-event start, coming around in eighth after the completion of the first lap. He put on a late-race charge to finish a solid fourth aboard his CRF250R. Teammate Cameron McAdoo also had a solid night to secure sixth. Having raced for 15 weeks straight, Team Honda HRC will take a much-needed break before returning to action on April 27 at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. On Friday evening before the race, Roczen and Seely will sign autographs at Belleville’s Motorcycle Mall starting at 6 p.m.
Ken Roczen  94 “Today was a struggle. I felt off all day. Qualifying didn’t go great, then I got bad starts in both races, and I just ran out of steam in the main event. I’m trying to get my body back to 100% but it’s been a challenge so I’m really looking forward to a weekend off. I’ve been fighting fatigue and trying to figure out what’s going on for a while now, so it’s been hard to come to the races feeling the way I have been. The elevation today definitely didn’t help either. I know once I’m able to get this fixed and get some consistency in my program, I’ll be in a good position to start winning. Hopefully I can come back and finish the last two races strong.”
Cole Seely  14 “I’m bummed with how tonight ended, considering how well it started. We’ve been making steady progress and I’ve had some good rides the past couple weeks, so I was hoping to build on that. My heat race was great but the main event was a different story. My start wasn’t good and then I just had multiple incidents, going down once and then coming together with Alex Ray and getting his foot peg in my front wheel. I could hear and kind of see the broken spokes but I didn’t know how many were actually broken, so I didn’t want to risk it. I pulled in and they changed it so I could at least go out and finish—not how I wanted to end the night but we’re moving forward.”
Erik Kehoe Team Manager “It was a tough day for Ken. His start wasn’t the best in the main event but he did put in a good charge; unfortunately, he just ran out of steam and wasn’t able to work his way forward anymore. He’s definitely frustrated with that and I know he’s working hard to figure out why. He was happy with the bike though. This is obviously our first time racing supercross in Denver so we had to make some initial adjustments to compensate for the elevation, but after we did, both riders were happy. Cole was riding really well today, including the heat race. He’s been making steps and progress each week, so that heat-race win was great to see. For some reason, in the main event it just came apart. He didn’t get a good start, then crashed, and then he came together with Alex Ray and broke his spokes. It all compounded and was a bummer ending to an overall good day for him.”
Oscar Wirdeman Mechanic (Ken Roczen) “It was a rough day at the office. Ken still isn’t feeling the greatest so he struggled with the altitude more than he thought he would. We also had to make quite a few adjustments to the bike to compensate for the elevation—gearing, flywheel and mapping. We made improvements all day and by the main event, Ken was pretty happy. Suspension-wise, we stiffened it up for the main but maybe too much because there was too much feedback on the shock but I don’t think it would have changed the outcome. We’re all looking forward to this weekend off. It’s been a long stretch so it’ll be nice to spend some time at home and regroup.”
Jordan Troxell Mechanic (Cole Seely) “The day as a whole was pretty good, up until the main event. Qualifying was okay. Like Oscar said, we made a bunch of changes after free practice to compensate for the elevation but then Cole was pretty happy, which showed in the heat race, where he got a great start and grabbed the win. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t repeat in the main. He was kind of late off the gate, put himself in a bad spot, and then went down a few minutes in, after losing the front in a corner. He was back in 15th and got caught up with a guy, breaking some spokes out of his front wheel. He had to come into the mechanics area and we had to change a wheel, so by the time he went back out he was a few laps down. That’s basically all she wrote.”

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