Sign of the (Lap) Times: Budds Creek

Sign of the (Lap) Times Budds Creek

August 23, 2016 5:20pm

What a difference a year can make. In 2015, Ken Roczen’s father Heiko let loose in an interview with the German motocross magazine Cross about the dynamics of the Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/RCH team. Exactly one year to the day that we spoke with Ken Roczen about his father and the interview, Roczen and the team celebrated their first career title together. Said Roczen to us on August 20, 2015: “My contract is through next year. I never gave up on it [RCH]. It’s tough for a rider in this position, and I’m sure it’s tough for the team too [when things aren’t going well.]. We needed to get better, and maybe we could have gotten it together more quickly, but my opinion was never that I’d just throw things out. That’s not who I am."

The story is even more surprising when you go deep into this team’s roots. The squad was originally formed by freestyle pioneer Carey Hart as Hart & Huntington, and was once known more for outrageous pit parties and fan interaction than race results. Hart teamed up with Ricky Carmichael in 2013 to form RCH Racing, and the team made its first big splash signing Roczen last year and it has paid off with a title.

“Several years ago when I asked Carey [Hart] if he’d be interested in coming together in a race team, our goals from day one were winning races and championships,” said Carmichael in a team statement. “It’s definitely a very happy moment for us. I’m really happy for Ken Roczen. He’s been fabulous on the bike all season. All the team members from RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/Suzuki Factory Racing have been fabulous. They’ve put in a lot of hard work at the track and in the race shop. I’m also very thankful to the group at Yoshimura for the motors they build. They make great power and that’s been a big part of our success. I’m really happy for Carey. He’s put his heart and soul into this race team and to see it all come to fruition is incredibly gratifying.”

How does Roczen’s 2016 championship compare with his 2014 run? We ran some numbers:

2016 vs. 2014

With a round still remaining in the championship, Roczen has already scored more points, has more moto and overall wins than in 2014.

2016 2014
Points 534 532
Moto Wins 18 8
Overall Wins 8 5
Worst Finish 4 4

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac came into Budds Creek needing a small miracle to have any chance at the title. Things went sideways quickly for Tomac in the first moto when he collided with Ronnie Stewart. After helping pull Stewart’s bike off him, Tomac recovered to get sixth. Roczen would clinch the championship in the next moto with Tomac finishing second. Up 93 points on second place Marvin Musquin, Tomac has clinched second in points.  

"Today had its ups and downs," said Tomac in a team statement. "My first moto started off ok until I made a mistake and tangled with another rider. We both went down and by the time I remounted I was basically last. I spent the rest of the moto with my head down doing damage control. Those situations are never what you want, but once you're in it, you just have to do the best with what you've got. The second moto obviously went much better. I'm upset I didn't make the overall podium but to lock up second in the championship is a good feeling."

Red Bull KTM’s Dean Wilson had his best finish of the season behind 5-5 moto scores for sixth overall. It was the first time since returning at Millville that Wilson has had two top five motos at the same round. Going back to Unadilla, Wilson has three consecutive top five finishes. He wrote on Instagram he feels he’s making progress. “Making improvements feeling better. Happy with where I’m at. Progress is all we can ask for.”

Phil Nicoletti’s 4-6 scores edged Wilson by one point for fifth overall. Nicoletti was also unhappy over comments Wilson made in his Red Bull video “No Surrender” after Millville, where Wilson said he shouldn’t be getting beat by Nicoletti. Phil talked with Steve Matthes about it after Budds Creek.

Pulpmx: Nice work, fifth overall. What did Dean-O say during the week to upset you?
I didn’t see it but somebody told me that Dean said you shouldn't be beating him. I was like, what do you mean? Then somebody showed me, he goes, “Guys like Shorty and Phil Nicoletti, they shouldn't be beating me.” I was just like, don’t single me out for beating you. Just say there’s guys that shouldn't be beating me, not just me. So, first moto I just wanted to beat him just to make a point. Then second moto he was behind me. Justin [Barcia] and I actually came together. I lost my front brake. I had a pretty big gap on Dean-O, but I just couldn’t carry the extra three seconds a lap that he was getting coming down the hills, because it’s hard to ride this track without a front brake. Dean-O ended up getting me and I was just like, ugh. I do like Dean. It is what it is. It was a good day.”

Despite finishing just one spot worse than Unadilla, Honda HRC fill-in Fredrik Noren said he “felt stiff” and couldn’t “find a flow” at Budds Creek en route to seventh overall. “I don’t think today went great,” he said in a team press release. “I felt pretty stiff all day and didn’t ride how I normally should. I struggled in practice and both motos, just not being able to find a flow. I qualified eighth, which is okay but I want to be better for sure. I had a little hiccup in the beginning of the first moto and had to come through the pack, but I was able to get to eighth. I had a much better start in the second moto but just kind of ran by myself a lot of the race. There’s some stuff I need to work on for sure but it was an okay day. Seventh overall isn’t something to be unhappy about, but I still want to be better.”

Benny Bloss, Anthony Rodriguez and Matt Bisceglia all tied on twenty-one points for ninth at Budds Creek, with Bisceglia drawing the short-end after a second moto twelfth—the worst of the group. Bisceglia worked back from last to ninth in moto one and finished eleventh overall. “It was a bit of a tough day,” he said in a statement. “I qualified sixth, which is the best I’ve qualified so far this year. I got a good start in the first moto, but crashed in the first corner. I went from last to ninth. Then I got the holeshot in the second moto and was still riding good up until maybe the halfway point. Then I struggled with my hands. They’re just super raw and I couldn’t even hold on, but there were positives from the day.”

Bloss’ 11-10 for ninth overall was a step off from where he was at Unadilla, where he took fourth, but he has now closed to thirteen points behind the idle Christophe Pourcel for fifth with one race to go.

Lap Times

450 Class Moto 1

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1 2:02.100 1 2:05.364 Ken Roczen
2 2 2:03.667 6 2:06.204 Marvin Musquin
3 3 2:04.223 6 2:06.613 Justin Barcia
4 6 2:05.160 10 2:07.785 Eli Tomac
5 7 2:05.931 1 2:09.752 Andrew Short
6 4 2:06.071 3 & 4 2:09.031 Phil Nicoletti
7 8 2:07.085 4 2:10.104 Fredrik Noren
8 11 2:07.380 10 2:11.697 Benny Bloss
9 5 2:07.881 14 2:09.454 Dean Wilson
10 12 2:07.951 4 2:12.984 Heath Harrison

450 Class Moto 2

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1 2:02.068 1 2:05.949 Ken Roczen
2 2 2:03.006 5 2:07.013 Eli Tomac
3 4 2:04.727 5 2:07.888 Marvin Musquin
4 3 2:04.815 5 2:07.675 Justin Barcia
5 6 2:06.862 4 2:10.059 Phil Nicoletti
6 8 2:07.429 7 2:11.194 Weston Peick
7 5 2:07.517 5 2:09.312 Dean Wilson
8 7 2:07.801 5 2:10.234 Fredrik Noren
9 9 2:08.023 1 2:11.918 Andrew Short
10 10 2:08.507 8 2:12.773 Benny Bloss

250 Class Moto 1

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 2 2:02.957 3 2:06.795 Adam Cianciarulo
2 1 2:04.114 2 2:06.423 Alex Martin
3 6 2:05.072 10 2:07.586 Cooper Webb
4 5 2:05.377 6 2:07.812 Austin Forkner
5 4 2:05.415 6 2:07.118 Zach Osborne
6 3 2:05.554 5 2:06.977 Joey Savatgy
7 38 2:05.559 2 2:07.380 Jordon Smith
8 8 2:05.996 11 2:08.909 Aaron Plessinger
9 9 2:06.204 4 2:09.289 Martin Davalos
10 10 2:06.361 6 2:09.293 Justin Hill

250 Class Moto 2

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 2 2:04.217 3 2:08.973 Austin Forkner
2 1 2:05.535 7 2:08.488 Zach Osborne
3 17 2:05.632 4 2:11.986 Arnaud Tonus
4 5 2:05.789 3 2:10.419 Adam Cianciarulo
5 3 2:06.704 7 2:09.122 Cooper Webb
6 4 2:07.336 7 2:09.500 Alex Martin
7 34 2:07.486 1 2:13.031 Joey Savatgy
8 6 2:08.342 8 2:10.507 Aaron Plessinger
9 7 2:08.534 7 2:10.880 Justin Hill
10 13 2:08.572 4 2:14.130 Tristan Charboneau

More news and notes

Cooper Webb clinched his first career 250MX Championship a round early. In the post-race press conference, Webb said there were only four people who actually thought racing this summer was a good idea after breaking his wrist during supercross. Certainly, no one was giving him much of a chance. Yet, here we are, eleven rounds later, and Webb is the class of the field.

“I’ve said this 100 times, but, I was sitting on the couch and said, ‘You know what? I’m going to win. I’m not going to sit on this couch and drink beer all summer. I’m going to go work my ass off and win this title. I don’t care who I got to race or how bad my wrist is going to hurt. I’m going to get it done,’” said Webb. “I think a lot of people definitely thought I was crazy for thinking that. I think there were maybe four people that agreed with me to go racing. That was Swanny [trainer, Gareth Swanepoel], my parents and [Star Racing team owner] Bobby Regan. Everybody else was just like, “Hey, take it easy. We want you to do good in the 450s. Don’t worry about this outdoor title. We already know what you’re capable of.” I told myself ever since last year when I sat at Indiana and watched Jeremy [Martin] win it again, I wasn’t going to let that happen. I’ve been teammates with him for a long time and he’s really good. After sitting for these two years watching him win it just eats at you. I was not going to be denied.”

The win is Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s third consecutive championship (Jeremy Martin won in 2014 and 2015) outdoors. The team, which had never won a championship prior to bringing Webb and Martin on, were the only ones that were considering Webb out of amateurs, according to Webb.

“That’s actually the only ride I had,” said Webb. “In 2012 I actually went to every team and pretty much begged for a chance. I went to GEICO [Honda], I went and sat in Mitch’s [Payton, Pro Circuit team owner] office. Red Bull at the time, they didn’t really have the TLD setup that they do now [full-factory KTM team,] but actually I did go to TLD back then, and same thing. Red Bull wanted to do a KTM kind of thing and I think I would have went to JDR at the time. I just wasn’t 100 percent convinced about all that, and obviously when you see where it went [the JDR team eventually folded] you can see that wouldn’t have been good.”

Despite losing the lead late in the first moto after his front end washed out in a corner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo said Budds Creek was a step in the right direction. AC led eleven laps on the day, putting his total for the season at 25 (sixth most in 250MX) and despite the crash he finished a season-high second in moto one. He tied teammate Austin Forkner in points for third overall (after a fifth in moto two) but lost the tie-breaker to the rookie. “Today was definitely a step in the right direction,” said Cianciarulo in a statement. “Got two great starts today, which led to my best moto finish of the year with a second place finish in the first moto. It felt great to finally break through and get up on the podium again."

Justin Hill has been solid since his return from a back injury.
Justin Hill has been solid since his return from a back injury. Cudby

Since rejoining the series at his home race at Washougal, TLD/Red Bull KTM’s Justin Hill has locked in six consecutive moto top tens. Through the first two rounds, Hill didn’t score one moto top ten. Hill struggled with starts on Saturday, rounding the first lap in sixteenth and thirty-third in the motos. Still, he managed to claw back to seventh overall on the day. “I don’t know why but I couldn’t really get going like I wanted to at the start,” he said in a statement. “I was able to get it together at the end of the motos and put in my best laps at the end. I feel good and really looking forward to getting better starts next weekend.”

Weather hasn’t been a huge factor this Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, but Budds Creek was dry and hot on Saturday, with temperatures reaching the upper 80s, and many riders admitting the heat got to them.

“The heat definitely was a factor for me today,” said TLD/Red Bull KTM’s Mitchell Oldenburg, who finished eighth overall. “It’s been hot in California, but this is a bit different with the humidity. So considering I didn’t feel the greatest, I thought it was good to come away with a top ten.”

The GEICO Honda team came into the race with high expectations after bike changes led to better rides from RJ Hampshire, Jordon Smith and Tristan Charboneau at Unadilla, plus GEICO served as title sponsor of the event, which is located closest to the company’s Washington, D.C. base. For a moment, it looked like it would be a good weekend, with Smith running third early in moto one and Hampshire moving into the top ten after a bad start. Then both of their bikes stopped running at almost the same time! The double DNFs led to poor gate picks and tough second motos, although Hampshire was able to salvage a ninth. “This weekend my bike was the best it's been all year!” said Hampshire. “We will have it figured out for Ironman next weekend. I'm shooting for my season best to finish out the season.”

Hampshire ended up seventeenth overall with 35-9 moto scores, and Smith thirty-second overall with 38-23 scores. Meanwhile Charboneau didn’t have the bike problems and scored a fifteenth-place finish, but he would have liked to have gotten more.

“Second moto I almost pulled the holeshot, came around the corner third or fourth, ran up there as long as I could but the heat got to me and I just dropped like a rock,” said Charboneau. “I fell back to thirteenth place, really disappointed in myself about that. I just need to be more prepared.”

Chris Alldredge (35) made his 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross debut on Saturday.
Chris Alldredge (35) made his 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross debut on Saturday. Cudby

Heat was a factor all around. For the second race in a row, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Joey Savatgy failed to finish the second moto, and that will likely cost him second in the standings. “It was really hot today and I think we all got tired out there. I’m happy with my first moto performance and I am looking forward to the final round next week,” said Savatgy in a team statement.

Chris Alldredge was back under the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki tent for the first time this summer after a huge crash at the Las Vegas Supercross left him with a fractured pelvis. Alldredge told us in the morning that he’d had about three weeks on the bike and twelve off, so he was just going to ride as hard and as long as he could with the expectation that he would get tired at some point. His 12-11 for tenth overall was actually pretty good, considering that.

“After being off the bike for 16 weeks, I think a top-10 finish overall isn’t too bad,” said Alldredge. “I have a long way to go before I’m back at race pace, but I believe we started off on the right foot today.”