Roczen Brings 450 Class Hot Streak into Annual Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Visit to High Point Raceway
With one quarter of the 12-round Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, now completed the title pictures in both the 450 and 250 Classes are starting to take shape. This Saturday, June 14, current series points leaders Ken Roczen (450 Class) and Jeremy Martin (250 Class) will lead their respective divisions into the fourth round of the 2014 season with the annual visit to Mt. Morris, Pennsylvania, and legendary High Point Raceway for the UPMC Sports Medicine High Point National presented by United Bank and Coastal Drilling East.
High Point will signify the last round of action before the championship reaches its first of two breaks in the schedule. With the season essentially broken down into thirds, each impending off-week will carry huge significance, particularly in terms of momentum heading into the break. As a result, High Point will potentially be the most competitive race of the season thus far as every contender will be in search of a strong result to head into the off-week with confidence. A win on Saturday could pay big dividends in the long run.
Live broadcast coverage from Pennsylvania begins Saturday, June 14, at 12 Noon ET with the first motos of the 450 and 250 Classes on MAVTV, followed by NBCSN's showcase of the second motos for each class beginning at 2 p.m. ET. Additionally, all the action can be seen via live stream online at ProMotocross.com (first motos) and NBC Sports Live Extra (second motos).
At the championship's previous stop at Thunder Valley MX Park in the mile high altitude of the greater Denver area, Roczen piloted his Red Bull KTM to his second straight overall victory in the 450 Class. It has always been said once a rider is able to break through for his first victory that winning comes to him much easier after that. Roczen proved that theory with a consistent outing in which he relied on 2-1 moto scores to claim the overall and cement his possession of the red number plate as the class' current championship leader. The German rookie entered the afternoon with a slim five-point margin between he and teammate Ryan Dungey, but after Dungey's worst race of the season thus far the gap between the dominant KTM duo has extended into the double digits, currently at 12 points.
While Dungey still finished on the overall podium for the third consecutive weekend, the third-place finish was his lowest thus far thanks in large part to a crash in the opening moto that saw him finish outside the top three for the first time this season in fourth. The frustration was evident in Dungey, who knew he gave up valuable ground to his teammate and continues to search for that edge to regain control of a division he took the reigns of early with a win at the opening round at Glen Helen. In four attempts at High Point, Dungey has earned two victories and boasts a finish of no worse than third in a single moto at the facility, meaning the opportunity is there for the taking.
Also closing in on the pace of the lead duo and looking to become a consistent third player in the title fight is Team Yoshimura Suzuki's James Stewart. The former champion enjoyed a breakout ride at Thunder Valley, showing he still has dominant speed by leading every lap of the opening moto for his first win of the season. Stewart parlayed his triumph into a third-place effort in Moto 2 and as a result landed on the overall podium for the first time in 2014. The veteran has acknowledged that he and his team were playing catch up early on as they worked to dial in the settings on the Suzuki, but given his season-best effort at Thunder Valley it appears as though the bike is where it needs to be and Stewart is ready to be a fixture in the battle up front. Stewart is also a former winner at High Point, going 1-1 in 2008, and is arguably the most determined rider in the 450 Class right now.
Over in the 250 Class no one would have been surprised if the dominance from Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha continued at Thunder Valley. With stellar starts and unmatched consistency, the sophomore duo of Jeremy Martin and Cooper Webb sprinted to a huge advantage in the championship thanks to 1-1-1-1 (Martin) and 2-2-2-2 (Webb) finishes to start the season. However, given the relative inexperience of both riders being in such a position many felt that it would be difficult for the pair to maintain such a torrid and dominant pace. In Colorado that reign of dominance took a hit, but despite a tough day of competition both Martin and Webb still walked away from Thunder Valley in full control of the title fight.
Martin showed how far he's come as a rider by rising to the occasion. Thunder Valley signified the first time in 2014 that the Minnesota native didn't start in the lead pack in either moto, but he still proved to be arguably the most formidable rider in the division. In the opening moto, Martin climbed from a start outside the top five to keep his undefeated streak intact and move to 5-0. When adversity struck in the final moto, Martin found himself on the ground while attempting to track down the leaders but still rebounded to post a solid sixth-place finish and land on the overall podium. While he may have lost some ground in the points and perhaps even a little momentum, Martin proved he's ready for the challenges that lie ahead and is still considered a favorite to win at High Point.
Webb's day at Thunder Valley is one he likely would like to forget. Misfortune hit the North Carolina native in each moto and left Webb on the ground more than he would have liked. In the end, his 9-7 moto scores were a direct result of his resiliency and while ninth overall wasn't what he was looking for coming into the race, Webb learned from the experience much like his teammate and is sure to come out better at High Point as he looks to close down the 26-point deficit to his teammate and perhaps claim his first professional win.
With an impressive ride to victory at Thunder Valley, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Blake Baggett has taken the spotlight away from the Star Yamaha tandem for the time being. The win was Baggett's second in Colorado and solidified his team's dominance at the facility, with eight wins in 10 races. Baggett's starts have arguably been his biggest obstacle in 2014, but the former champion made progress at Thunder Valley. The hard-charging nature of Baggett that earned him the "Chupacabra" moniker was on full display and he now heads to the track at which that nickname was spawned, following an incredible come-from-behind victory at High Point during the 2011 season. Baggett's 12th career win at Thunder Valley officially moved him into the top 10 on the all-time wins list and his leap to fourth in the 250 Class championship has made him a legitimate title contender. Baggett has made no secret to his desire to end the current Yamaha dominance and Saturday serves as an ideal place for his upward progression to continue.
With 37 years of history as one of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship's most storied tracks, High Point is a focal point on the schedule. The all-time wins list at the facility is a who's who of motocross and the ability to win at High Point is an indicator of a rider's potential to be one of the sport's elite. This season High Point serves as the first race in the east region, which will provide an added and intriguing challenge. With its loamy soil and often-unpredictable weather, the Pennsylvania track is sure to be a critical juncture in the continued progression of the championship.
Last year at High Point, Ryan Villopoto was dominant en route to his second win at the track in three years. The 1-1 effort was a statement by the veteran, who took back momentum from Dungey in their early season title fight and set sail towards the 450 Class championship. In the 250 Class, Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin broke through for the third win of his American Motocross career, which was solidified with his first ever moto victory in the final race of the afternoon.
Action for the UPMC Sports Medicine High Point National this Saturday, June 14, begins at 8:00 a.m. ET with timed practice. Opening ceremonies get underway at 11:30 a.m. ET, with the first gate drop scheduled for 12:05 p.m. ET.
Previous Round Results
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship
Toyota Thunder Valley National - Lakewood, Colorado
June 7, 2014
Round 3 of 12
450 Class (Moto Finish)
1. Ken Roczen, Germany, KTM (2-1)
2. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Suzuki (1-3)
3. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM (4-2)
4. Trey Canard, Shawnee, Okla., Honda (3-4)
5. Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., Yamaha (5-6)
6. Brett Metcalfe, Australia, Kawasaki (9-5)
7. Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Suzuki (7-8)
8. Andrew Short, Colorado Springs, Colo., KTM (6-9)
9. Weston Peick, Wildomar, Calif., Suzuki (10-7)
10. Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Kawasaki (8-12)
450 Class Championship Standings
1. Ken Roczen, Germany, KTM, 141
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM, 129
3. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Suzuki, 111
4. Trey Canard, Shawnee, Okla., Honda, 110
5. Brett Metcalfe, Australia, Kawasaki, 89
6. Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Suzuki, 78
7. Weston Peick, Wildomar, Calif., Suzuki, 77
8. Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., Yamaha, 74
9. Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Kawasaki, 74
10. Chad Reed, Australia, Kawasaki, 61
250 Class (Moto Finish)
1. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Kawasaki (4-1)
2. Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda (3-2)
3. Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha (1-6)
4. Jessy Nelson, Paso Robles, Calif., Honda (2-9)
5. Marvin Musquin, France, KTM (7-4)
6. Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., KTM (5-5)
7. Christophe Pourcel, France, Yamaha (11-3)
8. Cooper Webb, Morehead City, N.C., Yamaha (9-7)
9. Cole Seely, Newbury Park, Calif., Honda (8-8)
10. Justin Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., Kawasaki (10-10)
250 Class Championship Standings
1. Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha, 140
2. Cooper Webb, Morehead City, N.C., Yamaha, 114
3. Christophe Pourcel, France, Yamaha, 93
4. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Kawasaki, 91
5. Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda, 90
6. Jessy Nelson, Paso Robles, Calif., Honda, 85
7. Marvin Musquin, France, KTM, 82
8. Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., KTM, 81
9. Justin Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., Kawasaki, 65
10. Matt Bisceglia, Weatherford, Texas, Honda, 63