Ken Roczen wins second straight 450 Class Motocross race, sweeps RedBud

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After a brief lull, Ken Roczen has thoroughly taken back all the momentum in the 450 Class championship race, sweeping both motos at RedBud to take the overall victory for the second week in a row.

In the first moto, Roczen didn’t get the best start and sat in eighth place after the opening lap. By the end of Lap 2 though, he had already moved into the top-five. He then got around Eli Tomac for third place two laps later to make it a three-way battle for the lead with Trey Canard and Ryan Dungey. Roczen passed both riders on Lap 5, taking over the top spot from Canard right after the racers went through LaRocco’s Leap – the giant jump that is RedBud’s defining obstacle. With an empty track in front of him, Roczen was able to pull away for his fifth moto win of the year.

Roczen got a much better start in Moto 2, taking the MotoSport.com Holeshot, but Canard was all over him and quickly made the pass for the lead. Roczen and Canard would then engage in an exciting duel for first place over the next ten minutes, frequently ending up side-by-side in the air. About six minutes into the moto, it appeared that Roczen had taken the position away, but Canard passed him right back on LaRocco’s Leap. A few minutes later, Roczen was finally able to dive inside of Canard at the top of one of the hills, then shut the door on the Muscle Milk Honda rider as the two headed down the hill toward the tabletop jump. As he has done all year, Roczen was able to cruise to another victory once he had moved into the top spot.

“I actually struggled a little bit in the first practice,” Roczen admitted. “I made a little change to the bike that made [the track] somewhat easier on me. It was definitely a step in the right direction, and I guess it just clicked.”

The win is significant for Roczen because he successfully increased his championship lead from 16 to 26 points over his Red Bull KTM teammate Dungey, who finished third in both motos.

In his second race in the 450 Class, Eli Tomac secured the second-place spot on the overall podium with 4-2 moto finishes. Dungey’s 3-3 finishes landed him on the podium in third alongside Roczen and Tomac.

“I definitely ate a lot of roost today,” Tomac said afterwards. “When you’re behind a guy, you’re pulling tearoffs once or twice a lap, and actually the first moto, I ended up running out of tearoffs. So I threw 21 on it for the second moto and had clear vision and did a little bit better.”

For the second week in a row, James Stewart was not a factor in the race. A crash with Josh Grant in Moto 1 forced him into the pits for an early exit, and he was only able to salvage a 12th-place finish in Moto 2 after early struggles.

RedBud 450 Class Overall Results
1. Ken Roczen (1-1)
2. Eli Tomac (4-2)
3. Ryan Dungey (3-3)
4. Trey Canard (2-4)
5. Andrew Short (5-5)
6. Josh Grant (6-6)
7. Chad Reed (8-70
8. Brett Metcalfe (7-8)
9. Justin Brayton (10-9)
10. Kyle Chisholm (13-13)
*Moto 1 and Moto 2 results in parenthesis

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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