Anaheim winner Ken Roczen
With the opening race of Monster Energy AMA Supercross completed, the focus is now on the desert of Phoenix for the second stop of the 2015 season inside Chase Field. The anticipated start to the season produced great racing across both the 450SX Class and 250SX Class, but in the end RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s Factory Suzuki’s Ken Roczen and Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Red Bull KTM’s Jessy Nelson posted dominant efforts to make the first statements of the championship.
Roczen’s first start for the RCH Racing squad was a memorable one, signifying the team’s biggest accomplishment to date since joining Monster Energy Supercross in 2013. Now they sit at the forefront of the premier class as the points leader and are instantly considered title favorites as a result of the convincing win. In his first start at Chase Field a year ago, Roczen finished sixth and he’ll look to improve on that result to keep the early season momentum going. “It was good to grab the win in the opening race at Anaheim,” said Roczen. “We just want to stay consistent and not get hyped up too early. We all need to just focus on doing our job. Going into Phoenix, I want to be aggressive again. It’s going to be a little bit of a harder track but I’m usually pretty good at that. In Germany, we didn’t have a watering system so I’m used to riding a lot of hard-packed tracks. I’m really looking forward to it. I think we can do some damage again. I want to be as aggressive as the track allows me to be.”
Fellow RCH Racing rider Broc Tickle completed a strong start for the team by finishing in eighth. Tickle hadn’t raced since suffering a season-ending back injury in Toronto last season. “I’m looking to build off Anaheim,” explained Tickle. “I was kind of frustrated after the race because I felt like I should have been better but, in the grand scheme of things, eighth is pretty good for being off the bike for so long. I just want to be better than I was at Anaheim. That’s the goal. Keep maintaining, building, and doing as much as we can to get closer to the top-five.”
In his 450SX Class debut, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson had about as good as a ride as possible in his first taste of action in the premier division. Anderson’s runner-up effort was assertive, moving into second by the second lap and never looking back. Despite being out of competition for many years, Husqvarna came back swinging and the combination with Anderson looks to have potential. Anderson emerged victorious in the 250SX Class at Phoenix last season. “The race was good last weekend, I got a good start, settled into a pace and ended up with a podium so I’m stoked,” exclaimed Anderson. “I expected to hopefully have a good night and be in the battle, but what happened was crazy. I train with Kenny [Roczen] during the week but we don’t know where we’re at with each other as far as racing. Going 1-2, we talk about it but it actually happening is surreal.”
Many thought Trey Canard would be a factor in the battle for victory at the season opener and while he wasn’t able to battle alongside Roczen for the win, he still finished the night with an impressive third-place finish. Canard passed five riders in the Main Event to land on the podium and he has his sights set on the top step on Saturday night. “I’m happy, because other than the starts, the night went really well,” stated Canard. “I thought I rode well and although I had to roll the triple once, I missed some carnage around me and had no big crashes or drama. Starts are key, because we’re all going about the same speed. We’ll work on that for next week, but I don’t want to get lost or mess things up by doing too much different. I’m glad to get on the podium at the opener and now I’ll come back ready for next week.”
Canard’s rookie Team Honda teammate Cole Seely had to endure some ups and downs in his official 450SX Class debut. The California native found himself on the ground more than he would have liked and it forced him to qualify for the Main Event through the LCQ. While his 14th-place finish was a resilient one, Seely knows he’s capable of running inside the top-10. “Finishing 14th is a hard pill to swallow when you work as hard as the team and I do,” said Seely. “I know it’s a long season and I’ll have other races to prove myself, but it’s tough when the first race doesn’t go as planned. It was really just a string of bad luck; I felt like a black cloud was following me all day. I’m just going to stick to it, keep doing what I’m doing and hope for better luck this weekend.”