It was the Team HRC Honda rider’s third win of the season and his comeback from horrendous injuries is now complete.
It is perhaps the greatest comeback in all of sports history, Roczen returning to the top of his sport after two major crashes, 14 surgeries and thousands of hours of rehabilitation and training to put it all right again.
US orthopedic surgeon Randy Viola was the man who tended to Roczen after his horrifying crash at the Anaheim Supercross in January 2017 and a year later at the San Diego Supercross in February 2018, when his arm was ripped up between the swing-arm and wheel of Cooper Webb’s bike.
“As bad as it gets” was how Viola described Roczen’s injuries.
Viola said Roczen’s compartment syndrome was so severe, he was six hours shy of amputation. Looking at the x-rays, Viola’s anesthesiologist turned to him and remarked: “You’re not fixing this so he can ride. You’re fixing this so he can eat dinner”.
“Ken said to me, ‘This thing doesn’t have to be perfect. Just give me an elbow. Give me a wrist. If I can hold a handlebar, I can win.’ ”
And win he did, twice, at Unadilla on Saturday.
In the 250 class at Unadila on Saturday, French Yamaha star Dylan Ferrandis captured his second consecutive victory, giving him three wins on the season.
The first 450 class moto got underway with Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac capturing his second holeshot over Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-WPS-KTM’s Justin Bogle and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Zach Osborne.
Roczen started the race on a tear as he blasted through the field and muscled his way by Tomac to lead the opening lap. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Marvin Musquin was credited in third, followed by Bogle and Osborne.
Roczen quickly sprinted out to a multi-second lead in the opening laps, while Tomac continued to give chase in second. As the race closed in on the halfway point of the 30-minute-plus-two-lap moto, Roczen extended his lead to more than 10 seconds, while Musquin started applying heavy pressure on Tomac. Shortly after, Musquin used a strong drive on an uphill to pull alongside Tomac and make the pass stick for second.
With Roczen holding a commanding lead out front over Musquin, the battle began to heat up for the final podium position as Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia was searching for a way around Tomac. On lap 10, Barcia took control of second, bumping Tomac outside of the top three.
At the finish it was Roczen taking his fourth moto win of the season with 15.2 seconds to spare on the runner-up Musquin. Barcia completed the podium to take his first podium result of the season, while Tomac dropped to seventh after leading early.
As the 450 class field exited the first turn to start moto two it was Musquin emerging with his third holeshot of 2019, narrowly edging out Osborne and Barcia. In an attempt to get himself to the front quickly, Barcia lost the front end in a high speed sweeping turn, losing valuable positions. At the completion of the opening lap Musquin led the way with Osborne and Roczen in hot pursuit.
With a clear track advantage, Musquin pushed hard to try and distance himself from the riders behind him, however, first moto winner Roczen made the move on Osborne to takeover second and would soon find himself hot on the heels of Musquin. On lap three, Roczen grabbed a handful of throttle and launched into the lead. Musquin quickly reacted in an attempt to strike back, but Roczen held on to the top spot.
Similar to the first moto, Roczen’s impressive efforts out front continued as he once again built a commanding lead, taking his fifth moto win of the season by 22.4 seconds over Musquin.
A late race charge by Tomac allowed him to make the move on Osborne and take the final step of the podium in third.
Roczen secured his 18th career victory via 1-1 moto scores. Musquin’s consistent riding carried him to second overall (2-2), just ahead of Osborne in third (4-4).
“I haven’t done anything the last few weeks,” said Roczen. “My body needed to get some rest. Today was just odd. I told myself yesterday I wanted to go 1-1 and I was able to come out and do that today, including qualifying fastest. I’m really happy how we ended the weekend here at Unadilla.”
Despite an off day, Tomac still holds a 40-point lead over Musquin in the championship standings. Roczen trails Musquin by a single point in third position overall.
The opening 250 Class moto of the afternoon saw Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing’s Justin Cooper emerge with his class-leading seventh holeshot of the season ahead of Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo and FCC/Signation privateer Jerry Robin. As Cooper quickly set the pace out front with Cianciarulo in tow, Ferrandis began to make moves and overtook Robin before the completion of the opening lap.
Cianciarulo applied heavy pressure on Cooper in the early minutes of the moto, but Cooper was able to respond and open a small cushion. Ferrandis, who started just outside of the top three, began to inch up on the front-runners and had his sights set on the lead group. A mistake by Cooper through the rollers on lap five sent him to the ground, surrendering the lead to Cianciarulo. Cooper picked himself up to remount in fourth position, just behind GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton.
Once in the lead, Cianciarulo used a clear track to consistently click off laps, maintaining a slight advantage over his championship rival Ferrandis. When the chequered flag waved, it was Cianciarulo who held on to take his seventh moto victory of the season by 3.6 seconds over Ferrandis. Behind the lead duo, Sexton claimed his third moto podium finish of the season, followed by Cooper.
The deciding 250 class moto once again saw a Star Yamaha lead the field through the first turn as Ferrandis earned his first holeshot of the season with teammate Cooper and Cianciarulo in tow. Cooper quickly went after his teammate out front and made an attempt for the lead, however, Ferrandis would shut the door and hang on. Ferrandis led the opening lap, followed by Cianciarulo and Cooper.
Knowing that every point in the championship matters, Cianciarulo had his sights set on Ferrandis for the race lead. On lap two, Sexton used his race craft to takeover third from Cooper and quickly focused in on the two riders out front. Every time Cianciarulo appeared to make a run at Ferrandis, the Frenchman would counteract and prevent his rival from picking up momentum.
With the race winding down, Ferrandis remained consistent at the head of the 40-rider field to keep Cianciarulo at bay and take his seventh moto win of the season by 1.1 seconds. Cianciarulo finished just behind in second, followed by Sexton in third.
Ferrandis’ better second moto finish gave him the edge in a tiebreaker with Cianciarulo for his fourth career victory (2-1). Cianciarulo finished runner-up overall (1-2) on the day, while Sexton earned his second overall podium of the season in third (3-3).
“Today, the track was very challenging and rough,” said Ferrandis. “My bike setup was not perfect in the first moto, but the team made some changes for me between motos and I think that really helped me heading into the second moto. I’m happy to grab another win, my second in a row, and need to keep it going into the final two rounds for a shot at the championship.”
Cianciarulo’s tiebreaker finish with Ferrandis was good enough to keep his championship lead at 28 points. Cooper maintains his solid hold of third, 59 points out of the lead.
The 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will continue next weekend for the penultimate round of the championship on Saturday, August 17, at the legendary Budds Creek Motocross Park.
Photo courtesy Simon Cudby
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RESULTS & STANDINGS:
450cc Class, Unadilla, Round 10:
1 Ken Roczen, Mattstedt, Germany,1 – 1, Honda CRF450
2 Marvin Musquin, La Reole, France, 2 – 2, KTM 450 SX-F FE
3 Zach Osborne, Abingdon, VA, 4 – 4, Husqvarna FC 450
4 Eli Tomac, Cortez, CO, 7 – 3, Kawasaki KX
5 Jason Anderson, Edgewood, NM, 5 – 5, Husqvarna FC 450
6 Justin Barcia, Monroe, NY, 3 – 10, YAM YZ
7 Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, GA, 6 – 6, Kawasaki KX
8 Benny Bloss, Oak Grove, MO, 9 – 7, KTM 450 SX-F FE
9 Justin Bogle, Cushing, OK, 10 – 9, KTM 450 SX-F FE
10 Dean Wilson, Glasgow, United Kingdom, 8 – 11, Husqvarna FC 450
450 Class Standings – 2019
1 Eli Tomac, Cortez, CO, 426 points
2 Marvin Musquin, La Reole, France, 386
3 Ken Roczen, Mattstedt, Germany, 385
4 Jason Anderson, Edgewood, NM, 336
5 Zach Osborne, Abingdon, VA, 331
6 Cooper Webb, Newport, NC, 324
7 Justin Barcia, Monroe, NY, 252
8 Justin Bogle, Cushing, OK, 208
9 Fredrik Noren, Sweden, 204
10 Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, CA, 175
250cc Class, Unadilla, Round 10:
1 Dylan Ferrandis, Avignon, France, 2 – 1, Yamaha YZ250F
2 Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, FL, 1 – 2, Kawasaki KX250F
3 Chase Sexton, La Moille, IL 3 – 3, Honda CRF250
4 Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, 4 – 4, Yamaha YZ250F
5 Colt Nichols, Muskogee, OK, 5 – 6, Yamaha YZ250F
6 Shane McElrath, Canton, NC, 8 – 5, KTM 250 SX-F FE
7 Alex Martin, Millville, MN, 7 – 10, Suzuki RM-Z250
8 R.J. Hampshire, Hudson, FL, 12 – 7, Honda CRF250
9 Garrett Marchbanks, Coalville, UT, 13 – 9, Kawasaki KX250F
10 Ty Masterpool, Paradise, TX, 11 – 13, Yamaha YZ250F
250 Class Standings – 2019
1 Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, FL, 441 points
2 Dylan Ferrandis, Avignon, France, 413
3 Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, 382
4 Colt Nichols, Muskogee, OK, 292
5 R.J. Hampshire, Hudson, FL, 277
6 Chase Sexton, La Moille, IL, 254
7 Alex Martin, Millville, MN, 254
8 Michael Mosiman, Sebastopol, CA, 235
9 Hunter Lawrence, Landsborough, Queensland, Australia, 233
10 Shane McElrath, Canton, NC, 210