Roczen Rides The Wave Into Oakland and Round 5


1/31/2020

Round 4’s Triple Crown format delivered all of the excitement a fan of AMA Supercross could hope for. Great racing and unexpected successes and failures abounded. Roughly a quarter of the way through the 2020 season, the riders are really beginning to sort themselves out.

 

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Ken Roczen is the least surprising big surprise of the year. Everyone knows that he has the skills and drive to make his quest of a 450SX title work, and the team to back it all up. With his two massive injuries over the past few seasons, there’s been a bit of doubt whether he could deliver the results he and everyone else know he’s capable of.

 

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That changed in Glendale. It’s now clear that Roczen is more than able to beat everyone on the track if he wants to. He swept the three main events in Glendale with relative ease and did so while fending off the aggressive advances of Eli Tomac in the process. That alone is testament that he’s ready to battle for every last position with his primary competitor in this race for the title. Roczen was cool, precise and never rattled by the advances of Tomac. He left Glendale with a bit more points cushion heading toward Oakland this weekend for Round 5.

 

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Tomac was good, no doubt, but he simply couldn’t crack Roczen and that must weigh on him a bit moving forward. In the past, Roczen has folded under pressure a bit, but now it looks like something may have finally ‘clicked’ for the German. It’s interesting to see the two on and off the track and, after the racing, on the podium together. They interact more than in previous years and seem to have a healthy mutual respect, talking about the track and the race they’d just experienced together. It’s not unrealistic to expect that the rest of the race wins this season will come from one of these two guys – but the problem for Tomac is that he needs to win more than Roczen in order to make up the 12 point gap that now separates them. Every weekend from here on out is going to be critical for Tomac, as it looks like Roczen should be a lock for podiums at the very least. Tomac needs to go on a run starting in Oakland if he wants to keep his head above water in this title chase.

 

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Cooper Webb, the defending AMA Supercross 450SX Champion, was good enough for fourth place in Glendale. He’s a notch behind the top two in points. Coupled with a terrible Round 2--where he scored just 11 points--Webb needs to be more consistent. He’s great on most of the track, shows astounding race craft and line choice. But he’s just plain terrible in the whoops and that’s going to prevent him from being one of the elite two or three until he gets that straightened out.

 

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In the no-man’s land between the Nos. 3, 94 and 1 is 2018 champ Jason Anderson. His 2020 season has been quietly impressive. If we consider the ‘what-if’s’ of Glendale, we could ask what if there hadn’t been a red flag on the main that Anderson had just worked into the lead over Martin Davalos while Roczen and Tomac were buried in the pack? It’s pure speculation whether or not Anderson could’ve stayed there and what would’ve happened with the other elites. What we got was a red flag restart and Anderson ending up third overall in Glendale. Fast? Yes. Consistent? Sure. Fast enough to win? We don’t know that for sure yet. Oakland will be key also for Anderson, and thankfully the weather looks great so that shouldn’t factor. Anderson’s 14 points out of the lead, in fouth behind Barcia, Tomac and Roczen.

 

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In the 250SX West, things are also starting to get interesting. Well, that’s if by interesting we mean two of the most exciting (and colorful) riders in the pack being sidelined by injury. Christian Craig went down hard in one of the main events and will be out for at least the next two rounds, while his teammate Jett Lawrence is likely out until Seattle. This leave the door wide open for Star Racing Yamaha teammates Justin Cooper and defending champ Dylan Ferrandis.

 

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But it’s never a good idea to forget about the perennial wild card in the 250 class – Austin Forkner. Win or crash trying seems to be Forkner’s mantra, and Glendale proved he could ride away from the rest of the class if everything goes his way. Going 1-1-3 on the night, he didn’t even both trying to win the final main as his two remaining rivals (Ferrandis and Cooper) duked it out up front. Despite his 17th place finish in Anaheim 2, Forkner’s only 10 points out of the points lead and in fourth place as we roll into O-town this weekend. Against competition like the top Yamahas, though, that may be a tough road ahead for the on-again/off-again potential superstar.

 

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This leads us to Oakland. It’s always an interesting round with unusual, east-coast style dirt, which features a bit of moisture coming up through the evening as the temperature dip down into the upper 40s. The track also is always an elongated, unique layout. There’s only one whoops section that looks to be fairly short, so Webb’s Achilles heal probably won’t factor in this round. With a good start, look for the No. 1 to make an impact on the podium at least as he tries to close the gap to the rejuvenated Ken Roczen. Watch the Live Timing and Scoring action here on amasupercross.com and check out our regular photo updates on the Facebook page and Instagram accounts.


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