After lacking the 2020 Lucas Oil Professional Motocross season, questions abound about simply how aggressive Ken Roczen can be. And most of these questions are centered within the Honda Racing rider’s mind.
“I’ve carried out as a lot as I can within the final couple of weeks,” Roczen mentioned in a preseason press convention forward of Saturday’s race at Fox Raceway in Pala, Calif. Saturday, Might 29 on Peacock and NBCSN. “I simply wish to construct each single weekend. It’s actually tough to say for me the place I’m going to be and the way good I’m going to really feel all through the motos, however I’m keen to place my head down and focus and be taught each weekend.
“I do know it’s not the perfect scenario to be in, however I’ve acquired to take it the best way it’s now.”
Final yr after ending third in a Supercross season that completed late due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Roczen made the tough resolution to take a seat out Professional Motocross. He had been tormented by accidents and sickness in recent times. He and his spouse Courtney have been anticipating their first baby, and the main target wanted to be on therapeutic.
“Taking this shortened outside season off was a really tough resolution, however I’m assured it’s what’s greatest for me and my crew in the long term,” Roczen said at the time. “It will likely be good to regroup, let my physique heal, get pleasure from this essential expertise with Courtney, and construct again up for 2021.”
It was the second time within the final 4 years that he missed the outside season. Roczen was additionally pressured to take a seat out 2017 with an damage to his arm.
“It’s been a minute since I’ve ridden open air,” Roczen mentioned. “I’ve carried out this gorgeous a lot my entire life – it’s what I grew up on – however I form of felt a disconnect to be trustworthy. Through the time final yr when everyone was racing, I used to be pressured to take it simple.
“I used to be going out and pounding motos, so I would as effectively would have raced, however I didn’t do this. After which we went straight again into Supercross, so I haven’t actually ridden Motocross for fairly a while. Simply been feeling a little bit of a disconnect with it. Making an attempt to regulate to the pace and preserve my momentum up.”
— Professional Motocross (@ProMotocross) May 26, 2021
His loss was felt by the game. Since transferring as much as the 450 class, Roczen has been a perennial favourite to win the championship. He took the title in his rookie season of 2014, completed second in 2015 after which received once more in 2016.
After lacking 2017, Roczen completed third in 2018 and was second in 2019. That yr and all through 2020, he usually complained of overheating towards the tip of races, with what was later revealed to be a battle with shingles.
“I wouldn’t say that I’m 100% as in how good I’ve been previously – how prepared I’ve been,” Roczen mentioned “The pace that it takes in Motocross – it used to come back to me shortly as a result of I used to race each outside season after which I’d experience fairly a bit between the rounds, however then being within the championship hunt in Supercross, I used to be simply specializing in that.”
For Roczen to query his means will not be new. He is without doubt one of the most outwardly self-reflective riders within the subject. And since he’s evaluating himself to himself – a rider with 5 top-three factors’ finishes in 5 MX seasons – the bar has been set fairly excessive.
“So far as expectations for this coming weekend, I don’t actually have any proper now to be trustworthy,” Roczen mentioned. “I wish to see the place I’m at and construct each weekend from there on out.”
Within the final 4 Professional Motocross races of 2019, Roczen received as soon as at Unadilla MX in New Berlin, NY and he completed second twice. It’s seemingly that even a barely slower Roczen will just do tremendous at Fox Raceway.