Another round of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, another 1-1 performance from Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/RCH Suzuki’s Ken Roczen. At Round 6 of the championship at RedBud on Saturday, Roczen dominated both motos to the tune of thirteen and thirty-one seconds, respectively, to increase his points lead to fifty-three over Eli Tomac with six rounds left in the championship. After the race Roczen spoke to the media in the post-race press conference.
Racer X: Ken, with the success you’ve had in 2016, the old adage of if it’s not broke, don’t fix it fits. Do you feel yourself striving to do more during the week to try to keep improving or do you feel like this is it? This is exactly what I’m doing, we’re going to keep it just like that?
Ken Roczen: I actually did the complete opposite this week. I mellowed it out a little bit. I had to come here early for press day and my flight got delayed so I could only ride a quick 20 minute session Thursday afternoon. Just kind of took it easy a little bit and enjoyed my time off. I felt like this weekend was the best I’ve felt. I think I’m in a really good position right now. We’ve got quite a few races to go and I think I’m at the perfect medium.
With the track being as bumpy as it was, did you feel you had to take bigger risks to get by some of the guys you got by during the motos?
No, not at all. Actually in the first moto I changed a couple of little things in practice. I lowered my rear a little bit. I wasn’t happy at all in the first moto. Obviously I had a good lead and I won, but the first thing I came in, “Dude, this thing sucked.” In my eyes it went from the worst bike that I’ve ridden all year to literally [in the second moto] to the best bike. We just made a tiny little change and it’s crazy. I guess I’m just really sensitive to it. It just made that big of a difference. We actually had to do a quick little motor swap in-between. It was just my gut. I just told the guys I think we should put a new motor in. They just did a motor swap and everything worked out good.
In the last couple rounds when you’ve been leading you said that you didn’t want to risk going different lines during that moto due to the fact that they were working and you didn’t want to risk anything. Did you find yourself being able to move around this track and different lines or did you lock in like you have before?
I would say I was the same. I kind of just locked in. I felt really good all day. Last weekend I struggled all day, from the first practice on. After the whole day I went over to Oscar [Weidman, mechanic] and he was like, if you can win or you can go 1-1 on a day where you’re not feeling the greatest, it’s good. So I came here and I felt pretty good even though the track kind of had a hard base in practice. I preferred it a lot more in the races, and actually in the second moto I thought the track was a lot better. Obviously it was super rough. There were bumps everywhere and they were shaped very weird to where it was kicking you quite a bit. It was definitely a tough one but I just put my focus down. I know that I’m strong and I just hit my marks.
In the second moto you actually were behind Tomac, I think maybe for the first time this year. Did that change your strategy at all?
No, I was behind him last weekend. But this time it was for a couple laps. Everything happened so quick. But I don’t really care. I do my start and I don’t focus on anybody else but me and look at the pit board and look for lap times and hit my marks. So there was no stressing out on my part, really. I felt good and made the pass happen and just never looked back. I felt really good. I felt like I was riding really good in the second moto so I just kept it consistent the whole time.
Eleven or twelve wins on the season, 31 seconds that second moto. Is this the best we’ve seen you? Do you feel this is the best of your career?
I think the second moto might have been the best I’ve ridden all year. Actually, it’s pretty funny, the more 1-1’s I get the more I get pissed about that fourth place that wasn’t really my fault. But it is what it is. I’m having a blast riding my bike and so is the team. We’re just having a good time doing our thing.
You’re actually off to the best start since Stewart’s perfect season. Is that something you were aware of?
No, I feel like everything’s clicking right now. Obviously you always need a little bit of luck. But in my eyes up until now this year I feel like this is probably the best I’ve ever ridden.
Talk about the whole RedBud experience, the fans, everything. To me, that sounded like some Motocross of Nations.
It totally is. Every year I notice it more and more. When I first came here I just kind of rode and I wasn’t winning, and now I just get to enjoy it more and more every single year. Those guys were absolutely amazing. I appreciate the way that they take this. They were rooting for me too pretty hard, so it makes it awesome. I wish we would have more races like this.
Back in the early days here I think you had the feeling that some of the fans were kind of against you because you weren’t from here.
Yeah, we just kind of have to build on it. I’m foreign to them and that was always their weekend and with the Fourth of July, it was normal. I’m just a person and I appreciate everything. I honestly now feel like I’ve never lived anywhere else but here. Everything has gone in the right direction in my eyes.
We have our sand track next weekend. I know you don’t consider it a real sand track. What do you think?
I’m looking forward to it. We haven’t been there in three years or so. I don’t know if I’ve ridden there or raced there once or twice. But I’m just looking forward to how it is. I heard they reversed it. See how deep it is. I don’t think it’s going to be deep-deep, but it’s just going to be cool. Our track in Florida actually has some really sandy spots, so I’m used to it. I’m looking forward to it.
Do you still hunt for setup stuff—any weekend?
Not at all, actually. We tested this week and I rode on press day and I said put my other stuff back in. I just think what I have right now is super solid. You can always find something better but to get to that point, sometimes you can’t. So I went back to my old setting and I’m going to leave it there. You can ask Oscar, I haven’t done anything to my bike pretty much all year besides a click here and there. We always go back to what I’ve ridden all year.
Just to have that solid base that you could always go back to?
Yeah, that’s the good thing. Now I can test during the week and if it’s not that good I can go back and say, okay, let’s just go back to what I raced the whole time. Last year we were all over the map. I did not have one setting that was halfway even decent, so now this year I have a setting that’s actually good, so I can always come back to that. So it’s for peace of mind, actually. Good for your mental strength.
A lot of guys said this was the roughest track all year. Is that something you agree with? Can you talk about the track a little bit?
I don’t know. Obviously it was rough but it didn’t bother me at all. It was super choppy and the bumps were weird. They were very kick-y. But it was definitely one of the rougher ones, but I guess sometimes when you don’t have the best day you feel like the track gets super gnarly. It was definitely gnarly out there, but I kind of just dealt with it and never once thought, dude, the track’s going to be way too rough, or something like that. I don’t really know if it was the roughest, but I enjoyed it.
In the second moto you actually jumped the leap, Tomac didn’t. Can you explain why you did it and what you saw?
I just think I was creative on it a little bit with the lines. I caught the bumps a little bit. There were huge acceleration bumps coming out of there, and if you hit one of those there’s no way you could have jumped. I actually slowed down in the turn to get more to the inside. What I didn’t do in the first race I was just in the same gear and you could hit it, well now I had to shift down, go slower in the turn and accelerate. As I was going up the face I shifted again to have that little bit of extra pull and you have to go for it. So it was definitely a lot trickier. I didn’t do it every single lap by any means, but every time I felt like it was right I went for it.