In the long-awaited return to AMA Supercross racing following the COVID-19-prompted shutdown, Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen posted a third-place result at Salt Lake City, Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium, site of the series’ 11th round (as well as the next six). The German suffered a subpar start in the 450SX main event, completing lap one in eighth place. He advanced three positions on the next lap and then another spot on lap three to sit fourth, where he spent some time before taking over third near the midway point. That’s the position he maintained for the remainder of the 29-lap race, despite a scary close call near the end. Roczen maintains second place in the series title standings, though he slipped five points and is now eight back.
“I felt pretty good. I had a decent start, but got bumped around a little bit and lost some positions, so we had to fight our way up there and were kind of just riding in a train; it was hard to make up time. I lost a couple of tenths and gained a couple of tenths here and there and then I kind of stayed the same. Obviously, Eli [Tomac] was super strong and Cooper [Webb] right in front of me, and I couldn’t really make a move. I had a moment with about a lap to go where I almost crashed really, really bad, and then the last lap I really just rolled everything pretty much just to kind of bring it home. A podium is okay. Obviously we need to put ourselves in front of Tomac, but there’s a lot of racing left and a lot of crashes out there, and with all the lappers, a lot of things can happen. Really, we just have to regroup and try again on Wednesday.” – Ken Roczen
Roczen’s teammate Justin Brayton, who had suffered a broken left hand at the previous round, enjoyed a better start aboard his CRF450R and ran in second place early on, but lap nine saw him lose three positions as he suffered from arm pump. Issues at the race’s midway point resulted in Brayton slipping back to eighth, and lap 21 saw him drop to ninth, where he remained to the finish.
“It was a pretty good day. It felt so good to be back with the guys and the crew at the races and to get behind the gate again. Overall, I’m fairly happy with the day. The heat race was good; I got third there. I had a solid first half in the main and ran second for a long time. To be quite honest, I just pumped up about halfway in and kind of went backwards. Then I had a really big moment where I almost went down and that allowed a guy to get by me and some other guys to close the gap. I’m happy I didn’t hit the ground on that one, that’s for sure, and happy with a solid top-10 result. We’ve just got to keep this ball rolling, especially with the good starts that we got all day.” – Justin Brayton
The remainder of the series will happen on an accelerated timeline and entirely in Salt Lake City, with round 12 taking place on Wednesday and five more rounds following in quick succession.