Since dominating the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 450MX Championship with 20 wins out of the 24 motos, HRC / Honda’s Ken Roczen has not won a single overall win due to being in hospital beds more than on the dirt bike. Over the last two seasons, Supercross injuries has pretty much ruined the former World Champion from Germany, but he was back on top at the 2019 Hangtown National—the opening round of the 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship.
Kenny had a very up and down SX season—finishing 4th with six podiums and no wins—so we really had no clue what we would see from the #94 this outdoor season. It did not take long to find out, though. Kenny is not normally a rider that throws down the fastest lap in practice, but at Hangtown he surprised us all by being fastest in both sessions.
In the opening moto of the day, Kenny went to the front quickly and proceeded to disappear from the field. The two-time 450MX AMA Motocross Champ checked out to a massive 20-second lead at one point and made the wire-to-wire moto win look easy. In moto two, Mother Nature dumped water on the track for the full 30-minutes plus two laps. Eli Tomac got out front early in moto two, but Kenny hunted him down and passed him for the lead. This time, though, Eli was able to get him back and cruise in for the moto win, but Kenny crossed the line in 2nd, collecting the overall win with a 1-2 day.
After Kenny was done celebrating his first win since August 27, 2016, we caught up with him inside the press tent to talk about his day.
Kenny, you’re back, You’ve been back at it for a while now, but you got your first win in quite a while. 1-2 got it done for the overall today. Congrats!
Yeah, a very long time. It feels great! I’ll tell you that much. It’s been a long time. Crazy conditions today and it can go the other way but yeah, we made it happen.
They’ve made it a big deal on the broadcast about you not being able to win again up until today and we as reporters talk about it a lot as well, but how important has getting that first win been for you? Is it as important as everyone has made it out or were you patient and knew it would eventually?
No, it’s for sure… I mean, I don’t know about important, it’s just we want to win and I’ve just been struggling with so much stuff and being so far off of it. I’ve just not been comfortable. So today was the first time I just kind of went out there. I could kinda kind of ride the bike how I want it to and that turned out good so we can get better.
Is it weird how like you’ll try so hard for so long, but then one day it looks like it comes easy.
You know, last year it was a different story. I came in kind of injured still and Supercross… It’s just motocross is so different than Supercross.
In that first moto today, you just got to the front and took off. I mean, you were gone! Did that surprise you a little bit being the first moto of the year?
Yeah, I just kinda felt solid out there and I wasn’t riding like super aggressive or anything. I just kinda think I was on a good pace. I don’t know about surprising, but yeah, I mean, I guess in the end when you’re through you’re kind of like, “Woah, what happened?” So I guess, yeah, it was a little bit surprising.
Talk about the track today. In the first moto you literally had two different tracks with the rain starting midway through the moto, and the second moto was obviously a whole ‘nother level of mud from moto 1.
It was tough. You know, we definitely had some bumps there in the beginning and the first moto, but the second moto was on a whole other level. There were parts of the track that we’re super difficult and super sloppy. I mean it’s so much madness going on. That’s what makes it even better to just stay cool. And you know, not 1-1, but the second place [in moto 2], the bike’s got to survive as well. If you did.
If you had to go out after [Eli] Tomac in moto 2 to get the overall, did you have a little more in the tank?
Yeah, at one point for sure. I just had a couple of moments and I don’t know, some funky things on the bike that it was kind of doing. I just wasn’t ready to just go and try really hard, you know. And it’s the same like if I could’ve won, I would’ve won. You know what I mean? But he was going good at one point and then you make a mistake and you get further away and then there’s a couple of things happening and before you know it, you know you can lose 5 to 10 seconds in a lap no problem. I actually went down as well.
With wins coming so close in Supercross and them seeming to be ripped away at the last moment, how nerve-wracking was that last lap of moto 2. I noticed at one point you got stuck in a deep rut behind a stalled out lapper. on the last lap too. That had to be a scary moment.
Yeah, it was. There was the guys behind me and coming too. You know, you have a 20-seconds before the next guy and that goes away really quick in those conditions.
So what’s the mentality now heading to Pala with the red plate? Have you ridden there a lot and do you like the place?
I mean a little bit but not too much because we were in Florida most of the time. So same mentality, just go out there—it’s very early in the season—and try to do the same thing I did here. Go out and be aggressive in the beginning and try to put myself in a good spot.