Ken Roczen and his RCH Suzuki Factory RM-Z450 raced to the second-step of the podium with two runner-up places at the weekend’s Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Red Bull Southwick National in America.
The Soaring Eagle/ Jimmy John’s/ Suzuki Factory Racing leader of the championship waged a spirited battle with eventual race winner Eli Tomac for much of both 450 Class motos Saturday afternoon but ultimately yielded the top spot to Tomac and go on to notch runner-up showings in the seventh round of 12.
Despite coming up just short on his sixth overall victory in seven races this season, Roczen still paces the points race where he holds-down a commanding 47-point lead with five events remaining on the 2016 calendar.
“I felt like I struggled, pretty bad,” explained Roczen. “No excuses. I struggled in the first moto so we went back and made some changes and it was better for the second one. It wasn’t ideal. I kind-of felt uncomfortable out there all day. Just tried to minimise the mistakes and do the best I can even though it wasn’t ideal. In the second moto we had a good battle going on. We were kind of yo-yoing there for a while. He (Tomac) had certain spots where he was faster and I was closing in other spots. We weren’t ever really close enough where I could have maybe gone up the inside and made a pass. It was a tough one out there.”
Roczen’s RCH stablemate Broc Tickle struggled with his starts in both premiere class events but rallied to come from deep in the field to finish 10th in the first moto and eighth in the second, to be credited with an eighth-place overall finish. The solid recovery allowed the rider of the #20 RM-Z450 to maintain the fifth spot in the championship where he’s just 10 points behind fourth and 29 outside the top-three.
“Overall, I feel like it was a decent day,” said Tickle. “Obviously, not as good as the last two weekends. My starts were terrible and unfortunately, that set the tone for the motos. I felt really awesome in the second moto once I got a flow going. It was kind of hard to pass out there. It felt like the track funnelled into one berm. There were some positives, for sure, so I’m not bummed by the weekend. It was still solid with a 10-8 and eighth overall. We’re heading to Millville and that’s one of my favourite tracks so I’m really looking forward to that.”
After such an incredible run of wins and podiums over the opening half of the season, it was hard for either rider to not be disappointed following ‘Round 7’. As a seasoned veteran of the sport, RCH team manager Kyle Bentley understands the ebbs and flow of the business and kept things in perspective at day’s end.
“Anytime we can get out of Southwick with a solid points finish is a good day,” offered Bentley. “I’ve lost championships at Southwick before with some DNFs so, overall, we’re happy. No big surprise that Tomac was fast. We knew he would be. He was fast at Daytona and he was fast at Southwick. He’ll be fast next week at Millville, too. We just need to keep getting good starts and scoring solid points. (Broc) Tickle had two terrible starts and came from the back in both motos. He still got two top-10s so that’s a productive points-day for him. The most important thing is that we have two healthy riders so we can move on to the next race.”