RCH Suzuki Factory Racing’s Ken Roczen and Broc Tickle turned in solid performances during Saturday night’s Monster Energy AMA/ FIM World Supercross season opener at Angel Stadium, Anaheim in California.
After being collected in an early-race incident during the second 450SX heat race of the night, RCH Soaring Eagle/ Jimmy John’s/ Suzuki Factory Racing’s Roczen had to race his way through the semi into the Main Event where he ultimately went on to finish fifth aboard his Suzuki RM-Z450. Tickle turned in a strong performance but ended-up one spot short of a top-10 finish.
“It was a hard fought night,” commented RCH co-owner Carey Hart following the event. “I know a lot of people had high expectations of Ken in the opening round but the championship isn’t won on the first night. He showed a lot of heart, speed and a lot of skill. He came from dead last in turn two to finish fifth. I’m glad both Ken and Broc got through in one piece. It was a pretty crazy night with guys hitting the ground and how rough the track was, but onward and upward. Ken’s fifth in the points and that’s admirable considering everything that happened.
“Broc did great. He had a little bit of a slow start but hey, it’s the first race. Ricky (Carmichael) and I always talk about the series not really starting until Atlanta. We have to get through the first handful of races smart and consistent and Broc did just that. We’ll do some work this week and come out swinging next weekend in San Diego.”
The 450SX Class Main Event was initially halted by a red flag when James Stewart and Ryan Dungey collided on the second lap. As a result of the red flag, the field was re-racked at the starting gate but Roczen and Tickle didn’t get the start they were looking for.
“It was a very, very rough night for me,” explained Roczen. “We started off in the heat race and I got cleaned-out right away. My bike was just way too banged-up to go on, so we had to get everything fixed to be ready for the semi. In the Main, my start wasn’t that great. I was pretty far to the outside so that made it tough. On the restart after the red flag, I tried to cut to the inside and went down in the second turn so I had to come from dead last and pass guys one-by-one. I think it turned out to be a decent ride. We got up to fifth and salvaged some decent points.
“It’s a big confidence builder for the whole team to come from dead last and finish fifth. Obviously, it’s not where we want to be but it is what it is for this night. Luck was definitely not on our side tonight so I’m glad to come out of here healthy. A lot of people crashed.”
Tickle spent much of the day trying to establish a comfort level on the tricky Anaheim race course. After finishing seventh in his heat race, he also had to race his way into the Main Event via the semi where he secured his spot on the starting gate with a fifth-place showing. He went on to finish 11th and heads into the second race of the season 11th in the standings.
“All-in-all, it was pretty rough,” said Tickle. “I struggled throughout the day. I had a hard time getting comfortable and the track was awkward for me. As the day went on, I improved and ended up 11th in the Main, so that’s not too bad. Obviously, not where I wanted to be so I’m looking forward to improving next week. I just need to work on some little things. I know where I belong. The way I’ve been riding during the week has been really good so I’m disappointed to finish 11th. We’re going to work on some stuff this week and hopefully that will help us be better for San Diego.”
Carmichael, a five-time series champion, spent the night wearing his broadcaster’s cap, providing an insider’s look from the track surface for the FS1 television audience. Following the race, the team co-owner offered a candid but optimistic view of his team’s performance.
“Well, it was a rough night,” Carmichael said. “On the bright side of things, Ken and Broc came out of here with some points but I think it’ll get better from here. Everyone will get in their race routine and go on. We just have to keep applying the pressure. It’s a 17-race series. From a team owner’s standpoint we obviously want to be better. We want to win but all things considered, it was ok. I’m proud of the team for thrashing and getting Ken’s bike back together. They worked their butts off in the pits and we came away with a couple decent finishes.”
Monster Energy AMA Supercross rolls on next weekend when Roczen, Tickle and the rest of the RCH contingent visit PETCO Park in San Diego, California.