Following his 1-1 day at the Unadilla National, Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen took part in a media corral and then later joined the post-race press conference to talk about his day. During the press conference, host Jason Weigandt asked Roczen about his status for the 2021 Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations set to take place in Italy September 25 and 26. We had heard from sources that the entire Honda HRC team was working to get all four of their riders (brothers Jett and Hunter Lawrence for Team Australian, and Roczen on Team Germany and Chase Sexton on Team USA) onto their country’s respective team for this year’s event. Although neither Australia, Germany, nor the USA has announced their three-rider teams yet, rosters are announced almost daily as the calendar inches closer to September (Note: The Team USA announcement usually comes during the Unadilla National, but Mike Pelletier of the AMA told us the roster would instead be announced next week at the Budds Creek National.) Let’s look at several factors that come into play in this decision.
The Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship concludes on September 11 so the date of this year’s MXoN is much closer to the season’s end than in previous years when the riders and teams waited nearly two months to continue prepping for the event. However, the MXoN date sits between the tenth and eleventh round of the FIM Motocross World Championship in Europe, which is causing a huge stirrup in the MXGP pits. Riders such as Frenchman Romain Febvre, second in the MXGP points now through round seven, do not want to race MXoN during the middle of the season. This situation is similar in the MX2 (250 Class)—points leader Maxime Renaux skipped out on Team France this year as well as he currently leads the MX2 championship. These two are not the only riders based in MXGP who are skipping the event due to fear of risking a championship run. Add in the ongoing unpredictability and craziness of COVID-19, and details of the event could change as needed.
Add Roczen to the list of riders who have decided to forgo competing in the event. When he was asked about his status for this year’s event, here is what the #94 had to say.
“Yeah, I really wanted to race. I was ready to go and whatnot. But now, after further review and I think also with Honda and a little bit difficult time with the whole COVID situation and parts and all that kinda stuff. And of course, the situation over in Europe, I just feel like there are a lot of uncertainties. As of right now, obviously it’s [the race] happening but who knows if there will be any fans allowed and obviously a lot of riders are not going to race. So, I feel like the pros and cons for me, they were a little bit more on the con side for everything. And I feel like this is such a special race that I feel like if you can’t do it all the way, then don’t do it at all type thing.”
Roczen has raced the MXoN event six times in his career: 2018, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009. He sits second in the 450 Class standings through round eight as he is currently battles for his third Pro Motocross premier class title. COVID-19 caused the 2020 event to be canceled but at the 2019 event, Germany finished seventh overall with Dennis Ullrich, Tom Koch, and Simon Laengenfelder.
Listen to the full 450 Class post-race press conference from the Unadilla National below (the question to Roczen comes at the 18:48 mark).