Honda HRC's Ken Roczen is featured on the cover of the latest edition of The Red Bulletin, and inside is a huge feature story by Mike Kessler on Roczen's return from his gruesome arm injury sustained in 2017. Below is an excerpt of the piece (posted with permission):
He'd ridden the same line at least 30 times that day, so he knew full well about the kicker. Calf-high and seemingly innocuous, it ran across the track between the larger, more visible jumps in the second rhythm section. To the crowd, and from overhead cameras, it looked like a bump or a shadow. But Anaheim had gotten rain before the third race of the 2017 Supercross season, and the dirt on the field at Angel Stadium was soft or rutted out in places, a bit unpredictable. Then again, so is everything in Supercross.
Coming out of the turn 11 minutes into the main event, holding steady in third place, Ken Roczen gunned his Honda CRF450R toward the inside and launched off the first jump, catching an unremarkable 12 feet of air and covering some 35 feet before touching down. If you’re one of the millions of fans or accident-porn addicts who’ve seen the footage online, you know what happened next. Roczen’s back wheel rolled through a rut at the bottom of the kicker at the exact moment that his bike’s rear shock unloaded the energy it had absorbed in the landing a nanosecond earlier. This would have been fine if he wasn’t about to launch 40 feet off the next big jump. Like a kid being power-bounced on a trampoline, Roczen was helpless. His feet came off the pegs, his butt came off the seat and horizontal he went, flailing his legs as humans do when they’re airborne against their will. Then Number 94, the German-American heartthrob poised to assume the mantle of Supercross’s next big hero, ditched his bike and hurtled toward the ground.
“I was trying to get myself in a better position and brace for impact,” Roczen tells The Red Bulletin, sipping coffee on a winter morning at a breakfast joint near his recently purchased beach house in California’s Orange County, where he and his fiancée, Courtney Savage, stay when they’re not home in Florida. “But you know, it’s impossible when you’re in the air — once you’re flying.”
The crash immediately entered the pantheon of great motorsport smash-ups. When Roczen slammed into the dirt, the crowd of 40,000 at A2 (it’s the second race held in Anaheim each year) issued a stadium-rumbling groan, then fell silent.
Read the full story on RedBull.com.