Breakdown: Truth in Numbers

Breakdown: Truth in Numbers

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Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey put on a clinic on Saturday. While this fact isn’t ground breaking news, I feel that the actual data behind it may be a bit more surprising.

Watching the race in person, I could tell that they were distancing themselves from everyone, including their closest competitors, Eli Tomac and Trey Canard. What I didn’t notice was how much they opened that gap in the second half of the races. Of course, in the opening laps, every rider is in a full out sprint. Adrenalin is pulsing through every artery of all 40 riders out on the circuit. As that intensity starts to wane, however, the riders find their groove and their true pace starts to show. This change in pace is where a rider such as Chad Reed lost the lead pack at High Point, and Eli Tomac lost the front two riders at Muddy Creek in moto 1. Andrew Short has also been working on this part of his race-craft in an effort to hold on to the leaders once his sprint intensity goes away. This ability to maintain sprint-type laptimes throughout the moto is where both Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey are showing their prowess. Sure, they may put in their best laps early, but the drop off is trivial. The drop off is much more significant, though, looking at the laptimes for some of the other riders. Once the flood gates open, the boys in orange are long gone. 

Ryan Dungey (5) and Ken Roczen (94) ran away down the stretch. Photo: Simon Cudby
Ryan Dungey (5) and Ken Roczen (94) ran away down the stretch. Photo: Simon Cudby

By breaking down the laptimes, I saw just how far the race winner, Ken Roczen, was able to scamper away in the late stages of moto two. The data showed that Roczen was able to open up a 15.217 second gap on Eli Tomac in the 1st  half of the race, an average of 1.69 seconds per lap. While this isn’t anything for Eli to celebrate, many of the laps were within the same second of Kenny. The 2nd half of the moto was a different story entirely. Roczen kept his laptimes somewhat steady, losing a second or two but still hovering in that 1:57-1:58 range. Ken was strong to say the least. Eli, on the other hand, dropped from a 1:57 in the first half (close enough to be in the hunt) down to a consistent 2:02 mark in the latter part of the race. That massive drop-off left him far behind the leaders. It should be noted that this was Eli’s first race this summer and he will surely improve his late moto fitness. Even still, it was shocking to see on paper at just how dominant the top two were late in the moto. That 15 second lead at the halfway flag ballooned to a 59.277 second margin at the checkers. In other words, Roczen put 43.075 seconds, or 4.79 seconds per lap, on Tomac in thesecond half of the moto!

Ken Roczen Ryan Dungey Eli Tomac Trey Canard
 1 1:57.123 1 1:58.351 1 1:59.128 1 2:01.539
 2 1:56.972  2 1:57.528  2 1:57.464  2 2:01.182
 3 1:57.015  3 1:57.257  3 1:57.512  3 2:00.177
 4 1:56.621  4 1:56.924  4 1:57.826  4 2:00.138
 5 1:56.189  5 1:56.510  5 1:58.966  5 2:00.402
 6 1:56.853  6 1:56.883  6 1:59.861  6 2:00.510
 7 1:57.238  7 1:56.970  7 1:59.595  7 2:00.187
 8 1:58.289  8 1:58.057  8 1:59.857  8 2:01.850
 9 1:57.842  9 1:57.630  9 1:59.150  9 2:01.603
 10 1:58.783  10 1:59.015  10 2:00.848  10 2:02.694
 11 1:59.143  11 1:59.470  11 2:02.936  11 2:04.003
 12 1:57.796  12 1:59.030  12 2:02.937  12 2:04.103
 13 1:57.910  13 1:58.001  13 2:02.340  13 2:03.240
 14 1:58.197  14 1:57.815  14 2:03.609  14 2:03.992
 15 2:00.688  15 2:00.362  15 2:03.540  15 2:04.663
 16 1:59.412  16 1:59.365  16 2:05.739  16 2:04.406
 17 1:59.141  17 1:59.748  17 2:06.719  17 2:07.020
 18 2:02.123  18 2:05.149  18 2:07.871  18 2:08.580

Trey Canard took fourth place, and while the data wasn’t as eye opening as Tomac’s, it was still noteworthy. In the first half of the moto, Roczen opened up a 33.473 second gap on Trey, an average of 3.72 seconds per lap. As the moto wore on, that gap also widened as we saw with Tomac. At the checkers, the lead had grown to 1:24.704, with 49.778 seconds of that coming in the 2nd half of the race. Roczen had pulled away by an average of 5.53 seconds in the last 9 laps!

It’s easy to get way too enamored with numbers. This was an isolated race, and things may vary wildly at Red Bud next weekend. Remember at Mt. Morris, the previous round, Trey was able to beat both of the KTM boys in the second moto and James Stewart seemed to beat all of them fairly easily. On June 28, 2014, though, Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey put on a riding display that only the numbers can truly justify. Will the rest of the contenders bounce back this Saturday, or will it be more KTM dominance? No one knows and that’s maybe the coolest thing about motocross. Every time a rider lines up, he gets to lay down some numbers of his own.

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