Round Six of the AMA Supercross series at downtown San Diego’s Petco Park didn’t go as planned for Team Honda HRC, as so-so Main-Event starts left team-mates Ken Roczen and Justin Brayton fighting through the chaos to finish sixth and seventh, respectively.
When the gate dropped for the final time in California, Brayton and Roczen both got decent jumps off the line but didn’t manage to come through the first turn in good position, with Brayton being pushed wide and Roczen getting pinched off; the duo came around eighth and ninth on the opening lap.
On lap two, Roczen made his way around his team-mate and continued his charge forward, passing fellow Red Rider Malcolm Stewart for sixth a few laps later. He then took advantage of another rider’s mistake, moving into fifth and setting his sights on Justin Barcia.
His momentum then slowed though, as he struggled to make a move, allowing championship competitor Eli Tomac to close. Roczen was unable to defend his position, slipping back to sixth, which is where he finished. In the meantime, Brayton had a run-in with Jason Anderson early in the race, causing him to slip back to 10th. He rebounded quickly and spent the reminder of the race fighting through the field, working his way into seventh by the chequered flag.
Times were tight during the daytime qualifying sessions, with the top eight riders all landing in the 49-second mark. Roczen and Brayton were sixth- and seventh-quickest, respectively, with 49.648” and 49.724” lap times.
As usual, San Diego featured a Military Appreciation theme, with bikes and riders donning special graphics and gear to show their support. Throttle Jockey created individual custom schemes that honoured two different branches of the military and coordinated with Brayton’s and Roczen’s gear. Roczen’s red, white and yellow livery paid homage to the United States Navy, while Brayton’s black and forest green showed respect to the Army.
With the series heading east following the San Diego Supercross, both Roczen and Brayton will do the same, moving to their respective homes in Claremont, Florida, and Charlotte, North Carolina. “I’m really looking forward to going home,” Roczen said. “We’ve been in California since the beginning of December, preparing for the season and racing the West races, but I’m ready to get back to Florida.”
After six rounds, Roczen still leads the championship with a one-point margin. Brayton is currently ninth with 89 points.
Despite 250SX West riders Hunter Lawrence and Christian Craig both being out with injuries, GEICO Honda still had a presence at the San Diego Supercross, with their semi, riders and staff in attendance. On race day, they gave fans an incredible opportunity, opening their doors for two hours for fans to get autographs and tour the rig.
“Since we didn’t have anyone racing, we decided to do something fun during the day,” said Josh Wisenor, GEICO Honda Team Manager. “It was a cool opportunity to promote our team and sponsors, while giving fans a unique experience. It was fun to have fans be able to come under the truck, meet the riders and get a tour. We’re looking forward to getting back to business next weekend for the start of the East series.”
Ken Roczen: “The night started off really well. I crushed it in the heat race and had an awesome start. Ultimately in the Main, I got an okay-but-not-great jump and just got sandwiched in the first turn and again in the second turn, losing four more positions. It made for a tough race. I also got stuck behind [Justin] Barcia and just wasn’t riding well.
“Then [Eli] Tomac got me and from there on out, I was just going backwards. I lost touch with the front guys and wasn’t that good. Unfortunately, as much as we don’t like it, we all have those races and we did some damage control. It’s obviously not where we want to be but we’re heading to the East Coast still with the points lead, so that’s a positive. It’s still a long season ahead.”
Justin Brayton: “Today was pretty good. It was about standard for this season so far, but I do think my starts were better. They were good in the heat race and in qualifying; I just kind of messed up the Main-Event start and was a little wide. I was next to the box, which is normally good, but I think this time it was too wide. I feel like I executed the start good but just got pushed out.
“Overall I rode pretty well. Once again, I had to pass some good guys and it’s really hard to come through the pack, so I only made it up to seventh. I just need to put myself in a better position in the beginning and I know I can run up front and get a better result.”
This coming Saturday, Team Honda HRC will campaign round seven of the AMA Supercross series, in Tampa, Florida. In the 250SX class, this will mark the opening round for the East Region series, in which GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton will defend his title alongside team-mates Jeremy Martin and Jo Shimoda. On Friday, Honda Red Riders will make an appearance at Xtreme Powersports, starting at 6pm