Round six of the AMA Supercross series at downtown San Diego’s Petco Park didn’t go as planned for Team Honda HRC, as so-so main-event starts left teammates Ken Roczen and Justin Brayton fighting through the chaos to finish sixth and seventh, respectively. Nonetheless, Roczen retains the lead in the title chase.
When the gate dropped for the final time in California, Brayton and Roczen both got decent jumps off the line but didn’t manage to come through the first turn in good position, with Brayton being pushed wide and Roczen getting pinched off; the duo came around eighth and ninth on the opening lap. On lap two, Roczen made his way around his teammate and continued his charge forward, passing fellow Red Rider Malcolm Stewart for sixth a few laps later. He then took advantage of another rider’s mistake, moving into fifth and setting his sights on Justin Barcia. His momentum then slowed though, as he struggled to make a move, allowing championship competitor Eli Tomac to close. Roczen was unable to defend his position, slipping back to sixth, which is where he finished. In the meantime, Brayton had a run-in with Jason Anderson early in the race, causing him to slip back to 10th. He rebounded quickly and spent the reminder of the race fighting through the field, working his way into seventh by the checkered flag.
- On Friday night, Fun Bike Center hosted an open house, where hundreds of fans were in attendance to meet and get autographs from their favorite Red Riders. Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen and Justin Brayton were joined by GEICO Honda’s Christian Craig, Jo Shimoda, and Jett and Hunter Lawrence.
- On race day, Team Honda HRC was pleased to host Monster Energy Honda Team rider Ricky Brabec, the first American to win the Dakar Rally. Brabec was kept busy throughout the day, meeting with supercross stars Ken Roczen and Justin Brayton before joining them for an autograph session. Next, Brabec was a guest on Race Day Live with Jim Holley and Daniel Blair. During the night show, he was interviewed trackside with NBCSN before riding his CRF450 Rally on a parade lap around the perimeter of the track and being interviewed on the stadium big screen.
- Times were tight during the daytime qualifying sessions, with the top eight riders all landing in the 49-second mark. Roczen and Brayton were sixth- and seventh-quickest, respectively, with 49.648” and 49.724” lap times.
- As usual, San Diego featured a Military Appreciation theme, with bikes and riders donning special graphics and gear to show their support. Throttle Jockey created individual custom schemes that honored two different branches of the military and coordinated with Brayton’s and Roczen’s gear. Roczen’s red, white and yellow livery paid homage to the United States Navy, while Brayton’s black and forest green showed respect to the Army.
- With the series heading east following the San Diego Supercross, both Roczen and Brayton will do the same, moving to their respective homes in Claremont, Florida, and Charlotte, North Carolina. “I’m really looking forward to going home,” Roczen said. “We’ve been in California since the beginning of December, preparing for the season and racing the West races, but I’m ready to get back to Florida.”
- After six rounds, Roczen still leads the championship with a one-point margin. Brayton is currently ninth with 89 points.
- Despite 250SX West riders Hunter Lawrence and Christian Craig both being out with injuries, GEICO Honda still had a presence at the San Diego Supercross, with their semi, riders and staff in attendance. On race day, they gave fans an incredible opportunity, opening their doors for two hours for fans to get autographs and tour the rig. “Since we didn’t have anyone racing, we decided to do something fun during the day,” said Josh Wisenor, GEICO Honda Team Manager. “It was a cool opportunity to promote our team and sponsors, while giving fans a unique experience. It was fun to have fans be able to come under the truck, meet the riders and get a tour. We’re looking forward to getting back to business next weekend for the start of the East series.”
- This coming Saturday, Team Honda HRC will campaign round seven of the AMA Supercross series, in Tampa, Florida. In the 250SX class, this will mark the opening round for the East Region series, in which GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton will defend his title alongside teammates Jeremy Martin and Jo Shimoda. On Friday, Honda Red Riders will make an appearance at Xtreme Powersports, starting at 6 p.m.
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Ken Roczen 94
“The night started off really well. I crushed it in the heat race and had an awesome start. Ultimately in the main, I got an okay-but-not-great jump and just got sandwiched in the first turn and again in the second turn, losing four more positions. It made for a tough race. I also got stuck behind [Justin] Barcia and just wasn’t riding well. Then [Eli] Tomac got me and from there on out, I was just going backwards. I lost touch with the front guys and wasn’t that good. Unfortunately, as much as we don’t like it, we all have those races and we did some damage control. It’s obviously not where we want to be but we’re heading to the East Coast still with the points lead, so that’s a positive. It’s still a long season ahead.”
Justin Brayton - 10
“Today was pretty good. It was about standard for this season so far, but I do think my starts were better. They were good in the heat race and in qualifying; I just kind of messed up the main-event start and was a little wide. I was next to the box, which is normally good, but I think this time it was too wide. I feel like I executed the start good but just got pushed out. Overall I rode pretty well. Once again, I had to pass some good guys and it’s really hard to come through the pack, so I only made it up to seventh. I just need to put myself in a better position in the beginning and I know I can run up front and get a better result.”
Erik Kehoe - Team Manager
“I think we started off the night really well. We’ve been working a lot on starts and I think they both got good starts and rode really strong in their heat races; Kenny killed it in his heat race. In the main event, both guys’ starts weren’t great and I think the pace of the top guys was so fast, you had to get a good start to race up front. Ken started with a lot of good intensity but being mid-pack, there was a lot of banging going on. It looked like he charged really hard, really quick and might have blown too much of his energy, so he had to maintain the rest of the race. Justin was kind of the opposite. Toward the middle of the race he started to settle into a rhythm and find his pace and was really strong.”
Jordan Troxell - Mechanic (Ken Roczen)
“Tonight’s main event was a challenge. Ken didn’t get the start he wanted and was back in the chaos. He made some good passes in the beginning but then got stuck behind [Justin] Barcia. I think he just exerted a lot of energy in the start and when it took him too long to get around a few people, he started riding tight. He just wasn’t comfortable for a combination of reasons, and it showed. We still have the points lead and are now heading east, so hopefully we can get back on the podium next week.”
Brent Duffe - Mechanic (Justin Brayton)
“I hate to say tonight was an average result, but it’s been average for this year. Justin’s speed shows that he should be further up in the results and standings but unfortunately, we keep having a recurring theme—decent qualifying time, good heat race and then a bad start in the main event. The pace is so fast this year that if you don’t have a good start and a good first lap, then you’re buried. By the time the field spreads out, you can only pass people one at a time and you just run out of time. A 20-minute main goes by so fast that the starts are so important. We just need to work on making every one count. Bike-wise, Justin’s been on a new setting the last three rounds and it’s significantly different than what he’s been racing the fast few years, but he’s found a lot of comfort in it. We’re not making major changes on race day anymore, just little tweaks here and there to find comfort with the track conditions.”