Three riders who had some of their roughest days so far in the 2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship with Honda HRC teammates Ken Roczen and Chase Sexton, and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo. Each rider found themselves on the ground at different parts of the day at RedBud, though they also each had individual reasons to takeaway some positives from the fourth round.
After the racing was done, we caught up with all three riders in the newly added media corral to ask them for a RedBud run down.
Ken Roczen | 2-6 for 4th overall in 450 Class
Racer X: What happened in the second moto with the crash?
Ken Roczen: I actually tucked the front. I had been trying left, right, left, and as I crashed, I braced my body and as I crashed, I kind of got a gnarly cramp in my calf. I took a second to stretch it out. The knee braces, everything around there with the straps is kinda tight, you know? I cramped up really bad. Came kinda unexpected, there was just roller after roller and my body might have been too far forward. I had to get back in the groove after that. Ultimately if I had not crashed, I think I could have run with the front guys a little bit better. The track is weird. Ever since 2018, when they dumped all the sand on it there’s still some hard spots, so in the corners there’s no real holdup. The berms are shallow and kinda thin, and you’re sliding all over the place. I like the RedBud from before 2018.
We’ve had two rounds in a row where you’ve had these long battles throughout the moto. How do manage the flow of that. Sometimes the intensity turns out They keep going. It kind of depends on the track and the race and the rhythm. Here I had a little more of a hard time. With the hard base if you slide out, it takes some time to get it going again. Some riders might get back into a better rhythm right away. I’ve kind of struggled with that, finding my lines and keeping my momentum up. This track was really hard to ride, but the battles have been incredible. It makes it fun that way and it makes the moto go by so much quicker. I’ve been enjoying it.. Everyone is hauling ass right now.
First moto, you were right there with AP, then you went into the lead. Were you waiting? Did you see those guys coming?
I normally attack right away, but since I wasn’t feeling that comfortable on the track I kinda waited a little bit. I didn’t want to make a bunch of runs and then waste a bunch of energy like that. Dylan got me at the end and I tried to make a run but came up short. This track, honestly, it got the best of me a little bit. Obviously sucks to get passed with two laps to go, but it’s better to get second than crashing like I did in the second moto.
When you and AP were really close on the leap and you shorted it, what led to that and how did it feel when you shorted it?
Yeah not fun. Yeah doing the leap right now, the way the turn is at the bottom, it’s kind of a pain in the rear. It’s really difficult to do. But I was going for it. As soon as I was behind AP it was like I got stuck on Velcro. Just the roost. It also had a little bit of headwind which made it more difficult. As soon as I tried to jump it right behind him, it felt like I had a rope just tugging me from the back. I was already committed and I was in the air and I was like “Oh crap.” I literally thought my hands were going to blow off. It didn’t feel good on my wrists, I can tell you that much.
Chase Sexton | 8-4 for 6th overall in 450 Class
Racer X: Sixth overall I think it was, 8-4 on the day. Second moto obviously was better but I’m sure you wanted to be on the podium here at home huh?
Chase Sexton: Yeah, definitely. It’s cool to have the fans back after last year. I actually got on the podium here last year for my first 450 class podium, and there was no fans, or there was a few. So, it would have been cool. I got to go up on the podium though. They brought me up there so that was cool seeing all those guys back out. But yeah, it was a rough day. I went down in the first corner of the first moto and it just kind of put a damper on my day. Second moto I got an okay start. I made my way up to fourth and honestly just couldn’t really go forward. I was kind of getting sketchy and wasn’t really gelling with the track and the bike. So yeah, hopefully we get on a roll here. We’ve been taking a few weeks off after these races so hopefully we can get on a roll now and try to make something out of these next four races.
I feel like in the media, we kind of play it up that this is your home race, but does it actually feel like you have a little bit of an advantage compared to everybody else here?
Honestly, the track is so much different at the National. When I grew up racing here, it was more clay, and now they’ve brought in so much more sand. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just different than what I’ve raced on. The track was actually—it was a little deep in some spots and a little bit hard packed, but it was pretty gnarly today, and I just didn’t really—when you don’t gel with your bike, especially when it gets that rough, it’s not good. So, I do feel like I should have a bit of an advantage here, but everyone’s raced here so many times, especially guys like Eli [Tomac], they’ve raced here, especially the National, probably a lot more than I have so they know the track. I wouldn’t say I have an advantage but having the fans and going around every lap is cool to hear those guys. I have Indiana, [Ironman National] too, that’s pretty close to my house, so looking forward to that one as well.
In the second moto, Christian [Craig] was right behind you, and you guys were nose to tail with the top six for a while. What’s it like in that kind of battle where you’re trying to keep tabs on the people in front of you, but you’ve got someone right behind you there?
Yeah, I made a quick pass on Christian and was trying to go after Dylan [Ferrandis] because he was the next guy in front of me. I actually caught up to the back of those guys but then made a few mistakes and they dropped me. So, then I had Christian like four to five seconds behind me and I just wanted to maintain that gap. And then I kind of put on a charge like four laps to go and kind of dropped him a little bit but definitely, having someone behind you is good to keep your focus up because sometimes when you don’t have anybody there is when you make those mistakes. So yeah, I was trying to go forward but again, I just didn’t feel comfortable so just looking forward to going back and putting some work in and try to get the bike better and myself better and come out at Southwick.
Yeah, you’re still kind of building a bit with this new bike for outdoors, right? What kind of challenges or hurdles have you guys had to go through with it?
Yeah, I mean the bike overall is so much better than last year. I feel a lot more comfortable. But again, the class is so much more stacked, and the pace is, compared to last year, way more elevated. So, we’ve got to go that much faster and now we’re trying to push this bike to the limit, and we don’t have a whole bunch of data but it’s getting better slowly but surely. It’s a work in progress and hopefully we can get on a roll these next four races and try to click off some podiums and wins.
Adam Cianciarulo | 6-23 for 13th overall in 450 Class
Racer X: Adam Cianciarulo, obviously the second moto, you really don’t want to talk about it, but the first moto you were right there in the mix and getting in there a little bit. Did you feel overall pretty good up until that point?
Adam Cianciarulo: I really didn’t feel all that comfortable on the track all day, to be honest. But I felt good like in the beginning. I was just telling [Steve] Matthes, I’ve been dealing with this thing in my arm. I hate talking about it. I don’t even really want to talk about it anymore. But I’ve got this nerve thing. Basically, I got my nerve decompressed. I had an ulnar nerve entrapment and I got it decompressed. Most of the time, that works. I got it done by one of the best arm specialists in the United States, and he said he basically sees like a 100 patients a year and maybe two of them will come back and say it didn’t help for them. So, they can do a surgery where they just move the whole nerve, so I’m going to get that done when the season’s over. So, that’s just bothering me sometimes. Sometimes it’s not that bad, and then sometimes it’s terrible. It’s been brutal to deal with. It’s been like two years and it’s really frustrating, but like I said, sometimes it’s fine! So, that’s the first moto. I’m up there, I’m feeling good, I’m riding with everybody, and then I just can’t hold onto the bike anymore and that happens. But I felt good about my effort. I tried the whole time. Second moto, yeah good start and just pushed right through the rut. And man, I really jacked my bike up so bad. The front brake was high, the clutch was low, the front fender was stuck underneath the wheel so when I was compressing the bike down, it was stopping the front wheel. It was just a bad, bad moto all around.
Did the rut catch you off guard where you thought it had more of an edge to it and you just blew through the edge, or was it just coming in too hot?
Couldn’t tell you! I didn’t have the best front-end traction really all day, and I felt really strong with the bike in that spot, and it looked like a pretty deep part of the rut, and I was kind of trying to pivot the bike and cut out of the rut so I could get a straight shot at that little double, and I just blew through the rut.
You talked about at High Point where the arm pump issue was better. Does this just feel like a big step back?
Yeah, to be completely transparent, I just don’t know. I don’t know when it’s going to be bad. I saw, because Christian Craig passed me in the first moto, and I told him “good job” on the line in the second moto and he’s like, “It’s your arm, right?” And I’m like, “Yeah.” So, it’s one of those things where I feel good about doing everything I can and not getting discouraged. It’s challenging but I can only do what I can do. I can only control what I can control.
Yeah, I mean it seems like you’re feeling pretty good with the bike because every qualifying session, you’re right at the sharp end and putting good laps down, so you must feel pretty comfortable.
Yeah, I can do it. I know I can win. It’s not like it’s like one of those things where I’m like, “What happened? Where did it go?” It’s not like it’s gone, it’s there. It’s just a few things holding me back. But I tried my hardest today. Today it didn’t work out. I’ll sleep fine tonight.