Hard to believe Ken Roczen won the season opener of Monster Energy AMA Supercross six weeks ago, as since then the 2021 series runner-up has witnessed his season go completely south. He now sits ninth in points, 42 behind series leader Eli Tomac. In the same stadium in which he won the opener, Roczen was 13th in qualifying at Anaheim 3 on Saturday, then got pushed into Tuff Blox off the start of the main and found himself in last. He worked through to 11th, but the speed that was on display at the opener, and previous seasons, has simply not been there over the last five rounds.
"Our weekend at Anaheim 3 was honestly a disaster," said Roczen in a Honda HRC team press release on Monday. "I was really uncomfortable all day. It doesn’t help that they’ve been building the track gnarlier than maybe even any other year, so It’s just a bunch of stuff collapsing and it’s just not good right now."
After winning the opener, Roczen came to round two holding the red plate as the series leader. He crashed twice in the whoops at round two in Oakland, and later said the team will be working to find a better setup for the whoops seen at the first few rounds, which have been tougher than usual. He was knocked down by Jason Anderson while running third at the next race, and then again was tagged by Anderson while leading round four, also in Anaheim. At the Glendale, Arizona Triple Crown, he started the first race in second but drifted back to 4-6-7 scores and fifth overall.
Roczen is never known to hold his feelings back, and he was brutally honest in his post-race synopsis from Glendale.
“The Glendale Triple Crown was another rough one on my end," he stated. "My starts were mediocre at best, and with those types of races, it's tough to make something happen. I feel like I wasn't riding like myself, and in general I wasn’t feeling comfortable out on the track. I'm still working to try and get everything together, but Glendale was definitely not it. I got fifth overall, so it was actually nice to make it through the mains without going down. We definitely need some work. I'm trying to get consistent during the week and gain some confidence, but we’re still figuring out the bike a little bit. We went back to my setup from last year; it's good in some areas but also creates problems in others, and my starts with it weren’t that great. I'm still working on myself and with the team to bring it on the weekend. We haven't really had the greatest test days during the week, so then going into the weekend and trying to be super-confident and trusting in my abilities is really tough to do. We simply have to be better, and we’re working on it. We're going to go into another week of training, figure some stuff out and head on to Anaheim.”
Unfortunately the momentum didn't turn at Anaheim. The difficult whoops have thrown a curve at a lot of riders this season, and Honda HRC team manager Lars Lindstrom explained his thoughts post-race.
"The track was tough tonight, especially the whoops; everybody was struggling in them, even the winners," said Lindstrom. "It seems like when they’re built that way, the whoops only last for a certain amount of time and can’t handle the amount of riders during the day without getting completely destroyed. The 450 guys had the worst end of it, because the whoops were really bad at the end of the main event. Luckily, we survived the track, but the result was not what we were hoping for."
Roczen is now sitting on finishes of 1-13-7-13-5-11 this season.
"Nonetheless, I'm going to continue working on myself and try to improve every weekend," said Roczen after Anaheim 3. "We have to find a bike setup that works for me. It’s definitely not enough right now in order to compete with those guys out there. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but we’re not giving up."