Round Four of the AMA Supercross series was held under the lights of Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California, where Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen rode his CRF450R to a respectable fifth-place finish, placing him second in the championship standings.
When the gate fell for the night’s Main Event, Roczen came around the first turn just outside the top five. By lap six, the German had made his way into fourth and was continuing his charge forward. While he battled for third with Joey Savatgy, both riders capitalised on a mistake made by Marvin Musquin in the whoops, allowing them to sneak by and overtake second and third.
On the following lap, Roczen made his pass on Savatgy to take over second.
It was short-lived however, as the chaos continued and a four-way battle ensued, with riders swapping positions multiple times. Roczen relinquished two positions during the heated battle before losing one more in the final minutes of the race to take the checkered flag in fifth.
Ken Roczen: “Oakland started off pretty good. I felt super good in practice and was super-happy with the bike. I was confident going into the night show and happy to have first gate pick. We had a decent heat race, finishing in second. We had to do some little bike adjustments, just as the track changed.
“I didn’t have a great start at all but fought my way up to second for a bit. I was struggling in the whoops and started feeling uncomfortable and unfortunately, I went back to fifth. That’s not ideal but we’re leaving healthy. We lost the points lead but only by a couple of points – it’s a long season, so if we can take this as our worst race, that’s pretty good. It’s time to regroup and hopefully get back on the podium in San Diego.”
Fellow factory Honda racer Cole Seely showed flashes of speed and brilliance all day, riding smoothly and confidently through qualifying and his heat.
Unfortunately, while running seventh early in the Main Event, Seely had a mishap in the sand section, sending him to the ground. He remounted in 20th, and for the remainder of the 20-minute-plus-one-lap race, Seely put his head down and manoeuvred through the field, working his way to 11th by the finish.
Cole Seely: “I’m pretty happy with how today went overall. Obviously, my result in the Main Event didn’t show it as much, but we made a lot of progress. I’m not always the best at qualifying but today I was feeling good and able to get the second-fastest lap. My heat was good too. I was about fifth off the start and finished second so again had a good gate pick going into the Main.
“I was running top-10 in the Main when I went down in the sand and got a handlebar to the side. I did what I could to make up as many positions as possible but could only get to 11th. The season is still early and I know I’m building each week, but I really want to get back toward the front and be battling for podiums.”
During the day’s timed qualifying sessions, Roczen and Seely set the pace, recording the first- and second-fastest times of the afternoon, respectively. Roczen led the charge with a 52.709” time, with Seely close behind with a 52.956” lap. They were two of only three riders to drop into the 52-second range.
Once practice concluded, Roczen made dreams come true for Paradise, California, resident Evan Shoemaker, whose family was severely affected by the devastating fire that destroyed their town last November. With the help of Fox Racing and American Honda, Roczen surprised Evan with a brand-new CRF230F adorned with Team Honda HRC-replica graphics from Throttle Jockey, plus head-to-toe riding gear, as well as some additional clothing.
NBC Sports was on hand to film the emotional presentation, which was then shown during the Oakland broadcast. The family stuck around all evening, eating dinner under the Team Honda HRC hospitality truck before heading to the press box to watch the action unfold.
After four rounds, Roczen sits second in the championship chase with 81 points, just two points off the lead, while Seely is eighth with 56.
In the 250SX West class, GEICO Honda’s Cameron McAdoo had another strong showing, riding his CRF250R to his second straight sixth-place finish. Although RJ Hampshire wasn’t able to celebrate his 23rd birthday with a podium finish, he showed resilience by overcoming a hard first-lap crash to finish 13th.
This week, the Honda Red Riders head back to Southern California for Round Five at Petco Park in downtown San Diego. On Friday from 6 to 7:30 p.m., the riders will take part in a dealer appearance at Del Amo South Bay Motorsports.