|For round nine of the 2019 AMA Pro Motocross Championship, Team Honda HRC headed to the beautiful Pacific Northwest’s Washougal Motocross Park, where Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen secured his first podium finish since High Point Raceway, locking down second overall with a 2-3 moto tally.
In the opening 450 moto, Roczen launched down the start straight and around the first turn in fifth place before gaining two additional spots in the following turn to put him third heading up Horsepower Hill. Shortly thereafter, Roczen made the move into second and began working on the leader. He closed the gap and made the pass into the top spot on lap two. Once out front, the German took advantage of a clear track, riding smoothly and opening up an eight-second lead by the halfway point. Unfortunately, Roczen was unable to maintain his early race pace, which allowed Eli Tomac to close in during the final laps. The two fought hard, even coming together during their battle, but Roczen ultimately relinquished the lead and took the checkered flag in second. In moto two, Roczen got a seventh-place start but made some quick and aggressive passes, working his way into fourth on the opening lap. He continued his charge forward, making passes on third, then second before setting his sights on the leading Marvin Musquin. The two played cat and mouse for the majority of the race until Roczen came under fire from behind, once again by Tomac. He was unable to maintain his position, losing one spot to finish in third.
- Heavy rain throughout the week in Claremont, Florida, where Ken Roczen trains, led him to make a last-minute decision to ride press day on Friday at Washougal. Not only did this give him another opportunity to get some riding in, but it allowed him to preview the track and let the team try a few different settings prior to Saturday’s race.
- During the morning qualifying practice, Roczen laid down a 2’17.567” lap in the first session, landing him fourth-fastest heading into the races.
- The Washougal track features a unique first-turn section with multiple elements that pose challenges to racers. “This first turn is pretty sketchy,” explained former factory Honda racer and current Team Honda HRC test rider Trey Canard. “Not only is the turn itself really sloped but it’s also very fast coming down the start straight. Then after the first turn you have multiple rollers, which are pretty crazy when everyone’s going so fast right next to each other.”
- Despite relinquishing the lead during the final laps of moto 1, Roczen’s speed early in the race was unmatched, as he laid down the fastest time with a 2’17.608” lap.
- Following his second-place overall finish, Roczen remains third in the championship standings with 335 points, now only seven behind second with only three rounds remaining.
- It was a solid day for the GEICO Honda team, as they had two riders in the top six, with Chase Sexton landing fifth overall via 4-6 results, followed by teammate RJ Hampshire in sixth with 8-5. Unfortunately, mediocre starts in both motos hindered them from fighting for podium contention. Christian Craig also made improvements this week, landing 12thwith 11-13, while Hunter Lawrence missed the race due to injury.
- The Red Riders will now take their third and final break of the season before returning to action on August 10 for the Unadilla National in New Berlin, New York. “I’m looking forward to another weekend off,” Roczen said. “We’re leaving straight from here to spend a few days with some family before I head back to Florida. I’ll take some time to relax but still work hard to finish the season strong. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for the season to end though, so I can take some real time off to recover and come back strong.”
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