Press Release from Honda: The first round of AMA Supercross, at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, saw Ken Roczen turn in an exciting dream performance aboard his CRF450R, giving Team Honda HRC the opportunity to celebrate an early points lead in the series. The German native was unstoppable all evening, taking the holeshot in both his heat race and the 20-minute-plus-one-lap main and never relinquishing his lead in either. Along the way, Roczen clicked off unmatched lap times, ultimately taking the checkered flag with nearly 16 seconds to spare.

Despite having to shake off some pre-race nerves, teammate Cole Seely put together a solid performance to finish sixth on the night. The Californian got off the line to a top-10 start and quickly made his way through the field, moving into fifth on lap five. He maintained that position until the halfway mark before relinquishing one spot to finish in sixth.

NOTES

  • On Friday night, Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen and Cole Seely, as well as Honda brand ambassador Andrew Short, were joined by GEICO Honda’s Jeremy Martin and Jimmy Decotis for the first autograph session of the season, at Santa Ana’s Del Amo Motorsports of Orange County, where they spent time hanging out with fans.
  • Team Honda HRC was pleased to host Honda Racing Corporation Vice President Mr. Shuhei Nakamoto at Anaheim, as well as a number of other Honda Motor, HRC and HGA executives. Mr. Nakamoto, who has served in a number of important roles for Honda over nearly 35 years, will retire in April. To show their appreciation, Team Honda HRC presented him with a cake before the evening program began.
  • For the second consecutive year, American Honda welcomed fans in the Supercross Pit Party with a huge setup that included a children’s learn-to-ride center, an exhibit of models from the 2017 CRF family and four vintage race bikes.
  • During the daytime qualifying sessions, Seely notched the third-quickest lap time at 1:02.334, while Roczen was fifth with a 1:02.428 lap.
  • Slotted in the second heat race, Roczen launched his CRF450R to the holeshot and early lead. Seely was in the same race, sitting fifth on the first lap. Roczen began to pull away from the pack before ultimately taking the win, while Seely moved into fourth to secure the final transfer position.
  • Honda’s CRF450R was a popular choice at Anaheim 1, with no fewer than 15 of the 56 event entries choosing it as their steed—four more than the next-most popular machine.
  • This week, the Honda Red Riders head to downtown San Diego for round two at Petco Park. On Friday, the riders will take part in a dealer appearance at Motoworld of El Cajon from 6-7:30 p.m.

THE FOCUS: Three-Hour Tour

While Team Honda HRC was as busy as anyone preparing for the new season, they did take time to celebrate the holidays, inviting team staff, sponsors and members of the media on a Newport Beach harbor cruise shortly before the New Year. Riders Ken Roczen and Cole Seely were introduced to the attendees, as was brand ambassador Andrew Short and team manager Dan Betley, but most of the time was dedicated to socializing and participating in a Honda-themed trivia contest that was won by Team Golden Boy (captained, of course, by Dunlop’s Broc Glover).

“The goal was just to get everyone in a comfortable, laid-back atmosphere,” said Honda Motorcycle Sports Supervisor Brandon Wilson. “It was good for everyone to let their hair down a little bit and get to know each other better without all the hoopla that goes with work. It was a situation none of us were used to, where you could wander around and chat with different people. It was a good event, and I think everyone had fun.”

 

Ken Roczen  94

Tonight couldn’t have gone better. I’m happy to come away from tonight with the win but I’m staying really calm and taking this season week by week, which I don’t think I did in previous years. It’s important to take this race and enjoy tonight and tomorrow but to continue to look ahead, focus on the next race and not get caught up. At the moment I’m just having a lot of fun. The team is great, they’re working hard and all the details that make me super happy are in place right now.”

Ken Roczen

Cole Seely  14

“I’m okay with how tonight went. It was good to get the first one out of the way, shake the nerves off and still come away with a pretty good finish. If you were to ask me where I put myself against everyone, I’d say that us top six tonightare in another league and going really fast, so it’s going to be a constant battle with those guys this year. I was really loose in practice and able to lay down some good laps to come out third, which is really rare for me because I don’t always qualify the best. I was happy to transfer directly into the main event from my heat race and not have to deal with a semi at the first round. I don’t really know what it was, but I was really nervous before the main. Other than Monster Energy Cup, I haven’t really raced these guys since June. I rode tight but loosened up a little bit in the middle after [Jason] Anderson got around me. Toward the end I was catching [Eli] Tomac but I just didn’t have enough time.”

Cole Seely

Shuhei Nakamoto

HRC Executive Vice President

“I’m really happy to see the new CRF450R win the first race of the year! I would like to thank everyone on the development team as well as the race team for getting the machine ready in such a short time, as we were feeling the effect of the earthquake right when this machine was being developed. I was also incredibly impressed by how Roczen rode the whole race. He was completely in control and he looked like he had more to give if needed. Seely also rode tenaciously and did not give up. I’m convinced his results will continue to improve as the season progresses. I’m very pleased to see us win this very important race but we should not be too content. HRC promises to give more support to the team and I hope the team keeps giving their best for the championship!”

Shuhei Nakamoto

Dan Betley

Team Manager

“I’m really happy. Ken rode extremely well all day and completely dominated the main event, so it was a great way to set the tone and start the season on the right foot. I’m kind of bummed for Cole though. He was a little nervous for the evening and I think that may have gotten the best of him a little, but all in all our guys both showed speed all day and our starts were good. We learned a few things throughout the day but overall we’re in a good place and only made a few small clicker changes for each rider. The environment around our team is really great right now. Everyone is very relaxed and having fun, so I can’t speak highly enough about them and all their hard work. I’m really happy with where we are right now and looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Dan Betley

Oscar Wirdeman

Mechanic (Ken Roczen)

“This is going to be fun year. Today was almost too good to be true. It was smooth sailing throughout the whole day with the team, bike, practice and obviously race. Ken is really happy with his setup and totally crushed it tonight, but obviously we have a long way to go with 16 races left so we need to stay focused. I just wanted him to leave here healthy and in the top three, and he won by 15 seconds so that’s pretty good.”

Oscar Wirdeman

Rich Simmons

Mechanic (Cole Seely)

Tonight was good. Obviously, if you didn’t win you always want to finish better because that realistically is the ultimate goal, but for Cole tonight, I was hoping for a top-three finish. I think the top six were all running pretty close though, so to come away with that at the first round is still pretty good. I think the nerves just got the best of him because he wasn’t himself all day and was just over-riding the bike and track. We’ll work out the kinks and continue to improve each weekend.”

Rich Simmons

450SX Main Event Results

Pos. Rider Num Nation Points Team Time/Gap
1 ROCZEN Ken 94 GER 25 Team Honda HRC
2 DUNGEY Ryan 5 USA 22 Red Bull KTM
3 MUSQUIN Marvin 25 FRA 20 Red Bull KTM
4 ANDERSON Jason 21 USA 18 Rockstar Husqvarna
5 TOMAC Eli 3 USA 16 Monster Energy Kawasaki
6 SEELY Cole 14 USA 15 Team Honda HRC
7 MILLSAPS David 18 USA 14 Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM WPS
8 PEICK Weston 23 USA 13 JGR
9 GRANT Joshua 33 USA 12 Monster Energy Kawasaki
10 WEBB Cooper 2 USA 11 Monster Energy/360fly/Chaparral/Yamaha Factory Racing
11 WEIMER Jacob 12 USA