Michael Mosiman expects magic in his third year

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“I’ve been processing this idea of what motivates me during the time when I’m in the middle of the grunt work of the off season,” Michael Mosiman said on Tuesday at the annual Supercross media sessions.

He didn’t have to think long.

“The thing that is central to who I am is my faith in God,” Mosiman said. “I’m a Christian and that means a lot to me. It’s an interesting piece that a lot of people are not particularly vocal about.”

Mosiman is in his third season riding for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team and he has shown steady progression along the way.

In 2018, he qualified for six Supercross Mains, scoring one top-10 in the process. That came midway through the season in March at St Louis.

In 2019, Mosiman advanced to 10 Mains, including two of the Showdown races at Atlanta in March and at Las Vegas in the finale. The Showdown races draw twice the number of competitive riders and – as a result of the big entry list – are obviously more difficult to advance from the Heats.

Mosiman did not have to wait until mid-season for his second career top-10; he finished 10th in the second race of 2019 at Glendale, was eighth at Anaheim 2, and seventh the next week in Oakland.

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Seattle in March was his high-point. Mosiman came up only one position shy of standing on the podium.

“I had a really rough morning,” Mosiman said. “I crashed three times in the first practice. I was hurting pretty bad, so to go out and have my best finish of fourth was like ‘whoa, what just happened.’ I’m just feeling terrible and then go out to have one of the best I’ve ever had.”

What happened was Mosiman’s tapped into his ability to focus.

The best races for the young rider come organically.

“I actually took this test (during the off season),” Mosiman said. “It’s called a caliber test. … I rated a 98 for levelheadedness.

“Some of my worst finishes come after I emotionally don’t engage as much as when I take in the facts. The bummer part is that although I don’t have as big a down, when it’s great success I find that other people around me are more excited than I am. I want to have that thrill, but I’m so levelheaded that it’s like,” Mosiman switched to a matter-of-fact voice: “that’s Awesome. Glad it went well. Where are we going for dinner?”

Mosiman felt that he had an even better race in Denver in April. He earned the hole shot and led a significant portion of the race before finishing fifth.

For complete coverage of the 2020 Supercross season practices, heats and features, check out the Supercross Gold Pass.

In the season finale at Las Vegas, he earned his seventh top-10 of the year.

“The third year tends to be a magical number for a lot of guys.”

But it requires Mosiman continuing to find his center. Or rather, to remember to tap into the center that is always there.

“I find that when I feel like I’m riding my easiest and my slowest is when I’m going my fastest and best, “Mosiman said. “Something I’m really coming to terms with right now is that as soon as I try to push it – say someone is catching me from behind – and I go, ‘that’s not right; I need to step up the pace’, I can step up the pace but I’ll probably make more mistakes and it ends up being slower.

“So the real way to do it is that rather than to step it up from a stressed-out place – to be cleaner and to do it from a more calm state. … I mentally see that by hitting my lines, it will come together.”

And ultimately, finding that center comes back to faith.

It’s “the motivation to not cut corners when it can be so easy to do so,” Mosiman said. “The motivation to do the right thing and not just the easy thing.”

In Supercross nothing is easy. Twenty-two riders make the Main, but as many riders fail to advance to the Feature as make it.

SuperMotocross: Ken Roczen urgently needed change

Roczen change
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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Change can be frightening, but it is often exhilarating and Ken Roczen, a rider in his ninth season on a 450 bike, it was urgently needed.

Roczen ended the 2022 Supercross season with his worst performance in five years. After finishing outside of the top five in seven of his last eight rounds in the stadium series, well down the points’ standings in ninth, he decided to put that season on hold.

How it ended was in stark contrast to how it began. Roczen’s 2022 season got off to the best possible start. He won the Supercross opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California by more than seven seconds over the 2021 champion Cooper Webb.

That would be his last podium and he scored only one more top-five in the Glendale, Arizona Triple Crown.

MORE: Ken Roczen sweeps top five in Anaheim 2 Triple Crown

Before 2022, Roczen was a regular challenger for the championship despite being plagued by major accidents that required surgery in 2017 and 2018. On his return, he was diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus, which presents with symptoms of heavy fatigue, muscle weakness and loss of appetite and last year he tested positive for COVID-19.

Against those odds, he finished second in the outdoor season in 2019 and third in 2020. In the Supercross series, he finished third in 2020 and second in 2021.

But the abbreviated season of 2022 signaled a need for change for Roczen.

“I needed the change urgently,” Roczen said in last week’s post-race press conference at Angel Stadium. “I did a pretty big change in general.”

Those comments came three races into the 2023 with him sitting among the top three finishers for the first time in 10 Supercross rounds. It was the 57th podium of his career, only six behind 10th-place Ryan Villopoto. It was also the first for Suzuki since 2019 when Chad Reed gave them one in Detroit 63 rounds ago.

Taking time off at the end of the Supercross season had the needed effect. He rejoined SuperMotocross in the outdoor season and immediately stood on the podium at Fox Raceway in Pala, California. Two rounds later, he won at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado. The relief was short lived and he would not stand on the podium again until this year.

Roczen Motocross Round 3
Ken Roczen won Round 3 of the outdoor season in 2022 at Thunder Valley after finished second in Moto 1 and first in Moto 2. Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Winds of Change

Roczen’s offseason was dramatic. Citing differences over his announcement to compete in the World Supercross Championship, he split with Honda HRC and declared himself a free agent. It wasn’t a difficult decision; Roczen was signed only for the Supercross season.

That change had the desired effect. Roczen won the WSX championship in their two-race, pilot season. More importantly, he proved to himself that he could compete for wins.

Late in the offseason, Roczen announced he would also change manufacturers with a move to HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki. He won the 2016 Pro Motocross title for Suzuki with nine wins in 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second. He easily outran the competition with an advantage of 86 points over second-place Eli Tomac.

“I just think change overall made it happen – and these overseas races – it’s really just a snowball,” Roczen said. “You start somewhere and you feel like something works out and I got better and had more fun doing it. Working with the team as well and working on the motorcycle to get better and actually see it paying off. It’s just, it’s just a big boost in general.”

The return to Suzuki at this stage of his career, after nearly a decade of competing on 450 motorcycles, recharged Roczen. He is one of three riders, (along with Cooper Webb and his former Honda teammate Chase Sexton), with a sweep of the top five in the first three rounds of the 2023 Supercross season.

But last week’s podium really drove home how strong he’s been.

“I think we’re all trying to take it all in,” Roczen said. “I wouldn’t say it came out of nowhere really, but before the season starts you think about – or I thought of how my whole last season went – and it’s been a long time since I’ve been on the podium.”

Roczen’s most recent podium prior to Anaheim 2 came at Budds Creek Motocross Park in Mechanicsville, Maryland last August in Round 10 of the outdoor season. His last podium in Supercross was the 2022 season opener that raised expectations so high.

Supercross Round 1 results
Ken Roczen raised expectations with his season opening win at Anaheim but did not stand on the box again in the Supercross series. Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

The change Roczen needed was not just a different team and bike. More importantly, he needed the freedom to set his own schedule and control his training schedule.

“It’s long days, but I’m really into it at the moment,” Roczen said. “Overall, I felt [that] throughout this off season and now my health has been really well, really good, so that helps. It’s needed to get to the top. I’m pretty confident that we’re, we’re doing the right thing – that I’m doing the right thing.

“I’m doing all my training on my own and I’m planning out my entire week. And I feel like I have a really good system going right now with recovery and putting in some hard days. Right now, I don’t really have anybody telling me what to do. I’m the best judge of that.

“It’s really hard to talk about how much work we’ve put in, but we’ve been doing some big changes and riding a lot throughout the week, some really, really late days. And they’re paying off right now; we’re heading in the right direction. We’re all pulling on the same string, and that helps me out big time.”