In the last few weeks, Ken Roczen had been testing again and again to find a basis for his chassis. Although he only finished 5th in Arlington’s Triple Crown event, Roczen made a good impression.
In the first final , Roczen showed his class. He started on P2 behind championship leader Eli Tomac . The Whoops aren’t giving him any problems at Arlington . It rattled through the washboard as if drawn with a ruler and also showed good cornering speed . Halfway through the race, Tomac initially seemed to be able to pull away from the German, but Ken was doing his laps consistently and was able to close the gap to Tomac again, getting within a few meters of Tomac .
The start of the second final went almost perfectly. He crossed the holeshot line just behind Anderson and Webb , but on the first lap he collided with Chase Sexton , who was acting a bit over-motivated and stumbled in a right-hand turn . Ken ‘s front touched the rear of Sexton , allowing several riders to swing past and dropping him to 6th.
In the crucial third final, Ken again chose a starting position on the inside left, while Tomac started the race from the right side of the starting grid. However, Ken was cornered by Plessinger and Barcia for the first few meters and had to step back. Tomac had free play on the outside line and pulled the holeshot while Roczen was only in midfield. The Thuringian prevailed against Plessinger right at the beginning and was in 7th place. He then conceded Cooper and benefited from a mistake by Barcia , which at the end of theWhoops jumped the track barrier. With that, Ken was already in P5 in lap 5 . On lap 8 Tomac crashed while in the lead and resumed the race just ahead of Roczen . In lap 13, Roczen was able to overtake the championship leader and defending champion, so that he finished fourth in final 3.
Now the Progressive Suzuki squad seems to have found a viable setup for the chassis. That’s the most important thing right now, because once Ken can focus fully on the competition, the results should come. Last week in Oakland , he clinched his first heat win on the Progressive Suzuki .
The whoops were no longer a problem in Texas either, so Arlington ‘s record is positive. The championship is still long. There are still 10 more races on the schedule. The next stop is Daytona next weekend.
Ken Roczen: I was able to put it on the board pretty much in every practice session, which is something that I haven’t been able to do this year, so that was great. In the races, I had two really good starts. In the first race, I found myself in second, battling for the lead the whole time; I was able to bring it home in second. For the second race, I went a little bit deep into the first turn, but came out in third. On the opening lap, another rider made a mistake before the whoops, and we got together, and we both almost crashed. I lost a position there. We were riding well, but these guys are all fast, and it was tough to pass. Going into the third race we were feeling fairly good, but I messed up the start and wasn’t far upfront. I made some passes and a couple of riders crashed, and I was able to come home in fourth place in the final race. Unfortunately, if I could have passed one more rider I would have finished on the overall podium. We were riding a lot better today. The team has been doing a really good job and putting in a lot of work, so I’m really appreciative and can’t wait for next weekend.
Larry Brooks, Team Manager: It was a decent weekend. Both classes are stacked very deep. So, I think it’s just baby steps for the team, and we just keep improving and every weekend we get a little bit better. That’s been happening so we’re happy.