2015 Hangtown Motocross | Roczen Begins Title Defense

2015 Hangtown Motocross | Roczen Begins Title Defense
Ken Roczen on his former ride, the KTM SX-F450

2015 Hantown Motocross Preview & TV Schedule

2015 Hangtown Motocross | Roczen Begins Title Defense
Ken Roczen on his former ride, the KTM SX-F450

Two weeks following the conclusion of 2015 Monster Energy Supercross in Las Vegas, the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship begins with the 47th edition of the GoPro Hangtown Motocross Classic near California’s Capital of Sacramento.

The first German to ever earn an MX title in 43 years of the outdoor MX series – Ken Roczen – begins his title defense this Saturday at Hangtown. But at KTM SX-F450 won’t be donning the #1 plate; instead, the red plate will be on Roczen’s RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy Johns/Suzuki Factory Racing RM-Z450.

Roczen departed from KTM following the 2014 Motocross season, which came down to the final lap of the season. Roczen edged out his former teammate Ryan Dungey to earn the title. Roczen, who earned five AMA Motocross wins last season, joined the RCH Racing team during the off-season. The team is co-owned by 10-time Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Champion Ricky Carmichael and freestyle motocross pioneer Carey Hart. Riding alongside Roczen is Broc Tickle.

Though Roczen is a favorite at Hangtown Motocross – round one of 12 – many challengers will be present, including Dungey, who claimed his third runner-up position last season in five years of competing in MX. As for the other two years, Dungey earned the titles.

2015 Hangtown Motocross | Roczen Begins Title Defense Ryan Dungey
KTM’s Ryan Dungey

Dungey also has extra incentive this season – he earned his second Supercross title following a dominating 2015 SX season. Heading into 2015 MX, Dungey is second both on the all-time wins list (31) and all-time career podiums (55). He never finished worse than second overall in the 450 class, making him the biggest threat to Roczen’s title.

Another threat will be GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac, who missed four rounds last season due to injury. He is in full health this season, and finished second in the 2015 Supercross series following three wins.

Confidence is high for the Colorado native and he looks to have every bit of speed and endurance to challenge Roczen and Dungey on a weekly basis.

Many eyes also will be on 33-year-old Chad Reed. The Discount Tire Racing/TwoTwo Motorsports Kawasaki pilot of Australia is the most successful international rider of all time. Along with Roczen and Dungey, he is one of three former premier class champions in the field. The other former Champion – Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart – is still out due to his anti-doping penalty.

Reed won Atlanta 1 SX this season, but did not taste victory in the Motocross series since 2011. Adding to his title hopes is the addition of a teammate for the first time under Reed’s own TwoTwo Motorsports banner in Josh Grant. The California native won the season opening moto a year ago and is a 450 Class winner, back in 2009. He looks poised for a strong season alongside his owner/teammate.

Riding for Joe Gibbs Racing Yamaha is Justin Barcia and Weston Peick. Barcia joined the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Champion in 2009, and is a fan favorite due to his aggressive riding. As for Peick, he may be the most improved rider in the premier class. This is his first year on a factory machine, and he will surely benefit the success of the JGRMX team in the outdoor summer series.

2015 Hangtown Motocross | Roczen Begins Title Defense Eli Tomac
Honda’s Eli Tomac

BTOsports.com KTM’s Justin Brayton returns after some time off in Supercross due to injury, but he is 100-percent heading into 2015 Hantown Motocross. The same can’t be said of teammate Andrew Short, who remains sidelined with a knee injury sustained in Supercross. Short is expected to return after a few rounds.

Team Honda HRC’s Trey Canard is also out. Last season Canard broke through to become a consistent front-runner and even took the first win of his career at the season finale in Utah to solidify third in the final standings. A broken arm suffered in supercross has put Canard in an uncertain position as the Nationals get underway, but his return appears to be imminent.

Many rookies enter the 450 Motocross stage this year, which was supposed to include former 250 MX Champion Dean Wilson. But the Red Bull KTM pilot will be sidelined all summer with a nee injury.

Three other rookies will join the grid, though: Team Yoshimura Suzuki’s Blake Baggett – also a 250MX title holder – Team Honda HRC’s Cole Seely, and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson.

Joining Anderson on the other Rockstar Energy Husqvarna is the Frenchman Christophe Pourcel – an MX veteran. While he’s never raced a full season of 450 Class competition, Pourcel has considerable experience in the 250 Class and has made a name for himself with his unique European style and innate ability to lay down a fast lap. He’s one of the most intriguing players for what is shaping up to be a memorable 2015 season.

During last year’s opening round of Motocross at Hangtown, Roczen doubled, taking the overall win ahead of Dungey (2-2) and Canard (3-4).

2015 Hantown Motocross TV Schedule:

MavTV will broadcast the first motos live from 5 to 7 p.m. ET Saturday, May 16, and NBCSN will broadcast the second motos live from 7 to 9 p.m. Promotorcross.com will also provide live streaming of all 2015 Hantown Motocross action beginning at 1:30 p.m.

2015 Hangtown Motocross Preview Photo Gallery: