Ken Roczen Crowned Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 450 Class Champion in Utah
The 12th and final round of the 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, signified the series' second ever visit to Miller Motorsports Park, just outside of Salt Lake City, for the Zions Bank Utah National on Saturday. With a title yet to be decided in the premier 450 Class, the spotlight was on the Red Bull KTM duo of Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey over the final two motos of the summer as 20 points separated the teammates entering the afternoon. Roczen was a fixture at the forefront of the field all afternoon, but ultimately rode patiently to ensure he would clinch the title in his first season of 450 Class competition with a fourth-place finish, ending the summer with a 14-point advantage over Dungey.
Out front on the 450 Class, Team Honda Muscle Milk's Trey Canard continued his strong close to the season and was dominant en route to his first career win, posting a 1-1 effort to become the division's 62nd different winner. In the 250 Class, Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha's Jeremy Martin capped off his championship-clinching effort from a week ago with a decisive outing of his own, posting his third 1-1 effort of the season to finish out 2014 with a class-leading five victories.
Canard, undoubtedly the hottest rider in the series coming into Utah, kept the momentum going in the opening 450 Class moto, surging past GEICO Honda's Eli Tomac off the start and holding off Roczen to earn the Motosport.com Holeshot Award. As the riders slotted into position, Canard, Roczen, Dungey and Tomac immediately established a four-rider breakaway that would last the entirety of the moto. Canard withstood constant pressure from Roczen throughout the early stages of the moto, but as they began to make their way through lappers, Roczen almost went down after contact with another rider, allowing Canard to open a comfortable lead and dropping Roczen into the clutches of his teammate in third.
While Canard comfortably pulled away out front, Roczen, Dungey and Tomac did battle for the podium. On Lap 14, Dungey made the pass on Roczen for second, only to give the position back a few laps later when a lapper altered his line. As that sequence of events unfolded, Tomac encountered his own misfortune and lost touch with the leaders. Dungey fought back and was able to re-pass Roczen with two laps remaining. Out front, Canard cruised to his third moto win in his last four attempts, nearly seven seconds ahead of Dungey, who gained two valuable points on Roczen in third. Tomac was fourth with Toyota/Yamaha/N-FAB/JGRMX's Josh Grant rounding out the top five.
It was more of the same from Canard in Moto 2, once again capturing the Motosport.com Holeshot Award ahead of Roczen. The duo set a torrid pace on the opening lap to open a small gap on their rivals, while Dungey overcame a start outside the top five to move into third by the end of the opening lap. While Canard maintained control of the lead, Dungey soon began to put pressure on his teammate for second and after applying pressure for a few laps, was able to make the move on Lap 5. Dungey closed in to within a couple seconds of Canard, but could never mount a serious challenge.
Canard capped off his perfect day nearly eight seconds ahead of Dungey in second, while Tomac also made his way past Roczen to finish third.
Canard won four of the last five motos to close out the season on a high note. He earned his first career moto win at Unadilla two weeks ago and finished second overall in the two rounds leading into Utah. The victory came in his 26th career 450 Class start.
"I've gotten more comfortable [the last few weeks]. It's no secret we made bike changes and it was instant for me in gaining more confidence," explained Canard. "I really have to attribute that to the team and I've had a lot of fun. I've been through such a roller coaster career I thought that if I didn't win today then it would be hard to win [ever]. I just wanted to put two motos together to give us [momentum] going into next year."
Dungey's consistent 2-2 effort landed him second overall, while Tomac (4-3) earned the tiebreaker over Roczen (3-4) to grab the final spot on the podium.
Roczen is the first German native to win a Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship title and is the 23rd different 450 Class champion in the series' 43-year history. Additionally, he joins an elite group of riders who hold the distinction of winning the title in their rookie season, including Dungey, Ricky Carmichael and Jean-Michel Bayle.
"I've been trying to play it cool [all weekend] but I'm not going to lie, I've been really nervous about today," said Roczen. "I just didn't want to talk about it and [wanted to] go out there and ride. I just pumped myself up for the motos and went, but it was honestly hard to put it out of my mind. I just went out there and did what I needed to do and made it happen, which is a huge accomplishment."
Roczen's title triumph was the second ever for KTM in the 450 Class and was the brand's second premier division crown in three years. It's also the first 1-2 championship sweep for the team.
Despite already clinching the 250 Class title last weekend, Martin didn't let up on Saturday. After his teammate Cooper Webb grabbed the Motosport.com Holeshot Award in the opening moto, Martin applied consistent pressure after starting second and was able to make the pass for the lead on Lap 5. Once in front, Martin was untouchable and opened a comfortable margin that he was able to maintain throughout the remainder of the moto.
Behind the Yamaha duo out front, the battle for the final spot on the podium was an exciting one. Strong starts by Rockstar Energy Racing teammates Joey Savatgy and Jason Anderson allowed the pair to jockey for the position early, but Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Blake Baggett soon made their presence felt by surging to the front. Musquin fought his way into third on Lap 4, but lost it to Baggett just one lap later. Although Musquin kept him honest for the entirety of the moto, Baggett withstood the pressure.
Martin took his ninth moto win of the season over 14 seconds ahead of Webb, with Baggett in third and Musquin fourth. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Chris Alldredge recorded a career-best fifth-place finish in just his third career pro start.
Savatgy grabbed another strong start in the second moto, claiming the Motosport.com Holeshot Award over Martin. However, it didn't take long for Martin to assume the lead and check out on the field. Savatgy soon came under fire from Musquin and GEICO Honda's Justin Bogle, while Baggett and Webb also began their marches toward the front.
Musquin took over second from Savatgy on Lap 3, bringing Bogle with him. The duo did battle for six laps before Bogle got the best of the Frenchman, which allowed both Webb and Baggett to close in. On Lap 10 Musquin lost a pair of spots to the hard-charging tandem, dropping to fifth. As Webb looked to assume control of the final podium spot, Baggett found a way by and set his sights on Bogle.
Martin won by nearly 18 seconds over Bogle, who held of Baggett in third. Webb followed in fourth to ensure his spot on the overall podium.
"I found something with my bike setup that helped last week and I think that played a key factor in how comfortable I felt and how well I did today," said Martin. "To be able to go 1-1 today was nice because it shows why I won the championship. I got good starts and chose good lines and it all worked out really great. I wanted to really enjoy it today and I did."
Baggett's 3-3 scores earned the runner-up spot in the overall classification and also clinched second in the final 250 Class championship standings over Webb, who tied Baggett in points for the afternoon but finished third overall (2-4) following the second moto tiebreaker.
"I showed up and rode my bike to the best of my abilities today. Some days I do that and some days I don't. It's as simple as that," explained Baggett. "The track was much better this year and I was able to fight my way to the front. I just charge all the way to the checkered flag and where I end up is where I end up. Today that was good enough for second."
The 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship schedule was released in conjunction with the season finale and will kick off with the Hangtown Motocross Classic in Rancho Cordova, California, on May 16.
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship
Zions Bank Utah National
Miller Motorsports Park - Tooele, Utah
August 23, 2014
Round 12 of 12
450 Class (Moto Finish)
1. Trey Canard, Shawnee, Okla., Honda (1-1)
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM (2-2)
3. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda (4-3)
4. Ken Roczen, Germany, KTM (3-4)
5. Brett Metcalfe, Australia, Kawasaki (7-5)
6. Ryan Sipes, Flaherty, Ky., KTM (9-6)
7. Andrew Short, Colorado Springs, Colo., KTM (6-12)
8. Fredrik Noren, Sweden, Honda (10-9)
9. Weston Peick, Wildomar, Calif., Suzuki (13-7)
10. Justin Brayton, Fort Dodge, Iowa, Yamaha (12-8)
450 Class Championship Standings
1. Ken Roczen, Germany, KTM, 532
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM, 518
3. Trey Canard, Shawnee, Okla., Honda, 468
4. Brett Metcalfe, Australia, Kawasaki, 334
5. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda, 319
6. Andrew Short, Colorado Springs, Colo., KTM, 302
7. Weston Peick, Wildomar, Calif., Suzuki, 290
8. Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., Yamaha, 259
9. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Suzuki, 226
10. Fredrik Noren, Sweden, Honda, 207
250 Class (Moto Finish)
1. Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha (1-1)
2. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Kawasaki (3-3)
3. Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., Yamaha (2-4)
4. Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda (6-2)
5. Marvin Musquin, France, KTM (4-5)
6. Chris Alldredge, Powell Butte, Ore., Kawasaki (5-8)
7. Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., KTM (8-7)
8. Dean Wilson, Scotland, Kawasaki (10-6)
9. Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Honda (7-9)
10. R.J. Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Honda (9-11)
250 Class Championship Standings
1. Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha, 500
2. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Kawasaki, 421
3. Cooper Webb, Morehead City, N.C., Yamaha, 419
4. Marvin Musquin, France, KTM, 408
5. Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda, 368
6. Christophe Pourcel, France, Yamaha, 355
7. Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., KTM, 276
8. Cole Seely, Newbury Park, Calif., Honda, 260
9. Jessy Nelson, Paso Robles, Calif., Honda, 252
10. Dean Wilson, Scotland, Kawasaki, 230