Ken Roczen earned his first Lucas Oil Pro Motocross victory since 2019 on Saturday in Colorado. (Align Media Photo)
Ken Roczen earned his first Lucas Oil Pro Motocross victory since 2019 on Saturday in Colorado. (Align Media Photo)

Ken Roczen Back On Top Step Of Motocross Podium

LAKEWOOD, Colo. – The second round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, featured one of the toughest challenges of the season with the series’ annual visit to the mile-high elevation of Thunder Valley Motocross Park.

As the early title fights continued to take shape, another dramatic afternoon of action made for added intrigue as Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen captured his first 450 class victory since 2019 and Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing’s Justin Cooper prevailed for his first 250 class win of the season.

The stars of the 450 class charged up the hill to start the first 450 Class moto and as they exited the first turn it was Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo who came away with the holeshot ahead of Cooper Webb, Dylan Ferrandis and Roczen. Cianciarulo asserted himself out front, but it was Roczen who was on a torrid charge forward. The German moved into third, made the pass on Ferrandis for second, and then stormed past Cianciarulo to seize control of the lead before the completion of the opening lap.

After a highly competitive early phase of the moto Roczen, Cianciarulo, and Ferrandis then settled into their positions and put a little distance over the rest of the field. Roczen and Cianciarulo exchanged fast laps at the front of the pack, but just past the 10-minute mark of the moto Cianciarulo edged closer and closer to Roczen’s rear fender. The Kawasaki rider looked for a spot to make a move and pulled the trigger just past the finish line, with a dive under Roczen that resulted in slight contact that pushed Roczen off his line, which allowed Cianciarulo to move into the lead.

The top three were separated by less than three seconds halfway through the moto and as time continued to elapse that gap only tightened. With less than 10 minutes remaining Ferrandis took advantage of an opening to slip by Roczen for second. The Frenchman continued to push the pace and closed in on Cianciarulo, who left an inside line open for Ferrandis to slide under and capture the lead with six minutes to go. Cianciarulo responded and got back under Ferrandis, but the point leader fended him off and sprinted away. Roczen then took advantage of this battle and made the pass for second, which dropped Cianciarulo to third.

Ferrandis and Roczen soon pulled away from Cianciarulo, which made it a head-to-head battle for the moto win. The international duo carved through lapped traffic with ease and Roczen found alternate lines to keep the pressure on Ferrandis. With just over two laps to go, Roczen made a pass attempt that caught Ferrandis off guard and forced the Frenchman into a miscue that took him off track. The German assumed the lead and pushed hard for the final two circuits to prevent another late push by Ferrandis. Roczen earned his second moto win of the season by 3.7 seconds over Ferrandis, with Cianciarulo third, Chase Sexton fourth, and Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing’s Aaron Plessinger fifth.

The final 450 Class moto began as Webb surged to the holeshot over his teammate Marvin Musquin, but behind them Roczen was heavy on the throttle again. The Honda rider quickly got by Musquin for second and set his sights on Webb. The rivals briefly battled for the top spot, but Roczen was relentless and fought his way into the lead. Behind this battle, Cianciarulo fell from third place but remounted quickly while Ferrandis was mired deep inside the top 10 off the start. Back near the front, the jockey for position changed again as Justin Barcia moved into second and Plessinger fought his way into third.

With a wide-open track ahead of him Roczen put the hammer down and built a lead approaching 10 seconds less than 10 minutes into the moto. That left Barcia, Plessinger, and Cianciarulo to duke it out for the remaining spots on the podium. As Roczen’s lead grew to double digits, Barcia and Plessinger remained in a tense battle for second throughout the moto, often separated by no more than a second. Behind that battle Ferrandis slowly made his march forward as he moved into the top five and then caught and passed Cianciarulo for fourth with just over 10 minutes left in the moto.

As the moto wound down, Ferrandis made quick work of Plessinger and took over fourth. He then looked to close the deficit to Barcia and make a push for second. As the clock ran out on the 30-minute-plus-two-laps moto Ferrandis found himself within striking distance of Barcia. The Frenchman was patient and with two laps to go he made his move into second. Out front, Roczen was in a class of his own en route to his third straight moto win. He completed his 1-1 outing 8.9 seconds ahead of Ferrandis, followed by Barcia in third.

Roczen’s impressive outing marked his first sweep of the motos since the 2019 Unadilla National. The 19th win of his career has moved the German to within one victory of tying James Stewart for sixth on the all-time 450 Class wins list. With his runner-up effort, Ferrandis (2-2) has opened his 450 Class career with a victory and a second-place effort. Cianciarulo rounded out the top three (3-6) with his seventh career podium finish.

“It seems like (I’m back),” exclaimed Roczen. “What a perfect day. I can’t believe it, especially after last weekend getting back into the swing of things. It seems like I’m back to my old self. I’m super happy with how everything turned out today.”

The win allowed Roczen to move atop the 450 Class point standings. He and Ferrandis are separated by one point, with Plessinger third, 16 points out of the lead.

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