ANAHEIM, Calif. (January 18, 2015) – RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy Johns/Suzuki Factory Racing kept the momentum rolling Saturday night when Ken Roczen picked up the win and Broc Tickle finished fifth in the Monster Energy Supercross event at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
The win was Roczen’s second of the season and third career at Angel Stadium. Tickle’s fifth-place finish was his best effort of 2015, less than a year removed from a potentially career-ending injury he suffered last March in Toronto.
Despite Roczen’s first- and second-place finishes, respectively, in the first two races, the 20-year-old 450SX sophomore standout was cautiously optimistic before the gate dropped on the third main event of the year.
“My day started out a little bit rusty,” commented Roczen, who is undefeated at Anaheim this season. “The track was really special and not easy to ride. I knew, going into the track walk, not to get stressed about the first or second practice. The track really came around in the main. It was pretty tricky. We had some ruts out there and it was a big track with long lap times. That definitely made it interesting. We got good starts when we needed them, and I think everyone can see that my Suzuki RM-Z450 works awesome. We had a great heat race so I was very confident going into the main. I didn’t get the holeshot but I was still near the front after the start and that was all I really needed.”
Roczen was second fastest in both of Saturday’s qualifying sessions and, coincidentally, finished second to Ryan Dungey in the first 450SX heat race of the program. The solid effort in his heat guaranteed the German rider a spot at the starting gate for the main event. While he settled for second in the preliminaries, that wouldn’t be the case when the money was on the line. Jimmy Albertson won the holeshot but it took Roczen less than a lap to pass Albertston, Davi Millsaps and, ultimately, Andrew Short for the top spot. From there it was all Roczen, all night, where he led all 20 laps en route to the fourth big-bike win of his young career.
“Shorty (Andrew Short) is a hard guy to pass,” said Roczen, who extended his point lead to 12. “I didn’t really want to get tangled up behind him so I had to make the move. After that, I needed to ride smart but stay focused on intensity because everyone was really fast. My bike worked awesome. It felt great and that’s all that matters. We put in a few strong laps but I couldn’t rest because Ryan (Dungey) got a bit closer sometimes during the race. Overall, it was a really good night. It was good to fight back after last weekend. We’ll keep going and hopefully, just inch away with the points lead. As long as we’re winning, we’re good.”
Tickle had a solid weekend overall. The Holly, Mich., rider was solid in both of the weekend’s qualifying sessions but a sixth-place finish in his heat race forced Tickle to race his way through the first 450SX semifinal of the night.
If confidence breeds confidence, then Tickle’s path to the main event was just what the doctor ordered. After winning the holeshot in the semi, the 2011 Supercross West Coast Lites Champion led every lap and cruised to an easy victory. That performance catapulted Tickle to his best finish of the year and offered the 25-year-old a welcome sigh of relief after a tough outing last weekend in Phoenix.
“Everything went pretty good,” explained Tickle after Round 3. “The semi set the tone for the night. Honestly, I haven’t gotten a holeshot in a couple of years. And winning the semi was important. All that confidence carried over into the main. All I did was go out there, try to ride 20 solid laps and it paid off. There was a lot of carnage midway through the race so I just tried to keep my pace going and look forward. (Justin) Barcia was close to me and I knew if I stayed close to him that I would leave a gap behind me. That was my goal and that’s kind of what happened. (Cole) Seely started catching me at the end but I still had some left in the tank, so I opened it up a little bit and gapped him just enough where I could cruise the last couple of laps. It was an awesome main event. It gives me goose bumps getting off the bike after a finish like that. I really appreciate everyone who stuck with me after the injury last year.”
RCH co-owner Carey Hart was on hand in Anaheim when the dust settled and was obviously proud of both his riders.
“The whole night is really bittersweet,” said Hart. “With Ken getting the win and to see Broc come back and finish fifth after the year he had last year is just awesome. I’m not sure who I’m happier for.
“I’m excited about next week,” continued Hart. “We’ve got a lot of momentum. Broc did great. He’s really getting his starts down. The win was a good boost for Ken to keep his confidence up. We’ll get back on the test track this week, put in the work and come into Oakland next weekend, rolling.”
Team manager Kyle Bentley was also pleased following the event but he was quick to credit the ongoing team effort that provides Tickle and Roczen with Suzuki RM-Z450s that perform at the highest level.
“I’m super excited,” said Bentley. “I couldn’t be more proud of Ken. He puts in the work during the week but I’m even happier for Broc. I’m super stoked for the whole team. We’ve put in a lot of work and a lot of effort. It’s a team deal. I also need to give credit to Ivan Tedesco for helping us during the week and getting our bike setups dialed in. I’m almost speechless. It’s a long season so we just need to keep rolling.”
The 2015 Monster Energy AMA Supercross heads up the Pacific Coast to Oakland next weekend when Roczen, Tickle and the rest of the RCH contingent trek to northern California for the first of two annual visits to the San Francisco Bay Area. The fourth of 17 races on the 2015 Supercross schedule will be televised live on Fox Sports 1 Saturday, Jan. 24, beginning at 7 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
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