Hangtown

Pro Motocross: Roczen, Martin begin title defenses today at Hangtown

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With a long and grueling supercross season in the books, it’s time for the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship to take center stage today. Coverage of all four motos will air from 5-7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Live Extra, and NBCSN will also televise the second motos live at 7 p.m. ET.

Today’s race at Hangtown will be the first of 12 rounds throughout the summer that will decide champions in two separate classes, but both of last year’s title winners will be faced with tough challenges along the way.

For Ken Roczen, the path to defending last year’s 450 Class title is already getting off to a rough start. The RCH Suzuki rider is currently battling injury – he hurt his ankle during the supercross season and is reportedly dealing with a back issue now as well – and if his practice times this morning are any indication, he does not seem to be 100% today.

As of now, Roczen is still expected to line up for today’s races, but should he struggle, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey and GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac would stand to be benefit. Dungey already has two 450MX championships under his belt, and Tomac was the fastest qualifier this morning – more than three seconds better than the rest of the field. Both riders are expected to be title contenders this year, so Roczen can ill-afford a slow start to the season.

In the 250 Class, Jeremy Martin will embark on a title defense of his own after last year’s breakout campaign. His toughest competition though may come from his own Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha teammate, Cooper Webb, who recently dominated the 250 west region during the supercross season.

Martin and Webb both pit under the same rig, so all Webb has to do is look a few feet to his side to see Martin’s bike featuring the red #1 plate of a champion, something which gives Webb a constant reminder of his goal for the year – to earn a title of his own.

“It gives me motivation for sure,” Webb said. “Especially for me after winning the supercross championship and getting third in the series last year. To get beaten by Jeremy, I get a little motivated. It’s extra motivation to steal that plate off of the #1 and put it on the 17.”

Live coverage of the season-opening round begins at 5 p.m. ET with first motos in both classes. The 250 Class will take the track first, followed by the 450 Class. Second motos in both classes will then air live at 7 p.m. ET. All races are streaming live on ProMotocross.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, and NBCSN will also carry live coverage of the second motos at 7 p.m. ET.