RCH Suzuki Team
Just as he did during his rookie 2014 season, Ken Roczen won the Supercross season opener at Anaheim, Calif.
But this year the German wasn’t piloting the Red Bull KTM SX-F450; instead, he was aboard the RCH Soaring Eagle/ Jimmy Johns/ Suzuki Factory Racing RM-Z450 for the team co-owned by 15-time AMA National Champion Ricky Carmichael and Freestyle Motocross pioneer Carey Hart.
This was RCH Suzuki’s debut win in the 450 Supercross class, and it appeared to arrive with ease for Roczen, the 2014 AMA Motocross Champion.
When the gate dropped for round one of 17 in 2015 Monster Energy Supercross, Roczen made quick work of holeshot winner Mike Alessi (Suzuki) and early leader Andrew Short (KTM). By the end of the first lap he was in first, and would go onto lead the remaining 19 laps for a perfect race win.
Speaking of A1 Supercross, Roczen said “Great weekend. It was our first race together so it was cool to actually get going. The night couldn’t have gone any better. To come out with the win and obviously, the first for the team, I take a lot of pride in that. That makes me really happy and proud. It just shows how hard we have worked. We’re going to keep going from here. There’s more to come. It’s just good to get this first one out of the way. Now, we’ll go home and keep working.”
Hart also commented after the win: “It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been at this eight or nine years and honestly, it’s very bittersweet. I have to give it all up to Mark Johnson, Kyle (Bentley) and the whole technical team. Ivan Tedesco did a ton of pre-season testing for us and that paid off in a big way. Ken put his head down and rode solid from the time the gate dropped.
“At the same time, Broc rode an amazing race. That was his first time back after breaking his back last year in Toronto and to get out of here with an eighth-place finish is an important accomplishment for him. I just could not be happier for my crew and all my guys.”
Carmichael had to leave the broadcast booth to congratulate Roczen and the team. Following the race, the five-time Supercross Champion said “I’m really happy for the team, Ken, Broc and all the people who have made the sacrifices that it took to put RCH in this position.
“We’re like the Bad News Bears sometimes but we’ve got great personnel, great riders and a great technical staff. It’s really cool to see all the work and the plan come to fruition. Carey and I sat down three years ago and mapped-out our plan but we weren’t exactly sure it would all be possible. We set our goals very high. I’m really proud of the guys in the shop who bust their tails every week. That’s who I’m most proud of.
“I’m really happy for Broc. We all know he had a horrific crash last year and injuries that were almost career-ending. For him to bounce back from that and to come to Anaheim and finish eighth, I’m pretty darn happy for him.”
RCH Suzuki reported that Roczen’s win proved to be a collective sigh of relief for the entire organization, especially Hart, the team’s founder.
“It was the longest 18 minutes and change of my life,” continued Hart. “I was watching the laps click-off and every lap felt like hours. After about lap 12, I had a big grin on my face and was doing my happy dance. We came into A1 like it was just another race or another day at the test track. Everyone did their homework, stayed cool, calm and positive. This is a 17-race battle. This win wasn’t a one-shot pony, by any means. We’ve got 16 races to go. We’re taking them one by one. We’ll keep picking away and take the good with the bad.”
The RCH Suzuki team continues this weekend with round two in Phoenix. For a recap, visit 2015 Anaheim 1 Supercross Results; for commentary, visit 2015 Anaheim 1 Supercross Upside/Downside. For a post-race interview with Roczen, click here.
Photo by Don Williams