Ken Roczen rebounds from recent illness to win Supercross Round 15


Ken Roczen shook off the lethargy and won for the first time Sunday night since Supercross season restarted at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

Battling a shingles virus that was diagnosed last week, Roczen snatched the lead from Cooper Webb three minutes into the main event and cruised to a victory by more than 2 seconds.

Webb finished second Sunday ahead of points leader Eli Tomac, who has a 24-point lead on Roczen with two races remaining.

POINTS, RESULTS: All the postrace statistics from Sunday in Supercross

“It’s a big, big turnaround obviously after the last couple of races,” Roczen told NBCSN. “That’s not easy to do. But I just had fun out here. We got the bike dialed, and my physical conditions were a lot better today. Won the heat race, won the main.

“This was awesome battle. I really geled with the track and with the bike.”

After finishing third in Supercross’ May 31 return, Roczen had struggled to a fifth, 10th and fifth in the past three races as the Honda rider struggled with the energy-sapping illness and faded in the second half.

Last Friday, he disclosed in an Instagram post that he tested positive June 7 for shingles, a viral infection with symptoms including painful rashes and fatigue.

Roczen also has been battling respiratory problems throughout the season.

Roczen moved back into second in the standings ahead of Webb, who got the holeshot and led the first few minutes.

I got a great start in the main, but Kenny was riding well,” Webb told NBCSN. “I knew he was a little faster. When he got by me, I was just going to try to pace him, and I thought with his physical condition and stuff, he was maybe going to fade halfway. So I stayed in there, but he stayed on it the whole time. He rode great.

Eli Tomac maintained a comfortable lead in the points standings with his fifth consecutive podium finish in Salt Lake City, Utah (Feld Entertainment, Inc.).

“We’ll look to regroup. The track definitely was tough with a lot of flat turns, different than what we’re used to. We’ll come back in two days and try to get the top step.”

In Round 16, Webb will try to win for the third consecutive Wednesday night and continue his podium streak in Salt Lake City.

Through five of seven races that will finish the season in Salt Lake City, Roczen, Webb (two victories) and Tomac (two) have captured all the checkered flags.

Tomac could clinch his first 450 championship with a victory Wednesday and seemed happy with his sixth consecutive podium Sunday.

“Overall it was a good race,” Tomac told NBCSN. “I felt really in the groove up until about halfway and then got squirrelly in the whoops and was missing out on the left side of them. I felt I could have made a lot of time in them. Went a little conservative after halfway, and that was about it.

“Good night for us, third will be OK for now.”

Malcolm Stewart, who finished fifth in the 450 class Sunday, was sporting a Black Lives Matter patch on his uniform (Feld Entertainment, Inc.).

In the 250 class, Austin Forkner made a championship statement by shoving Dylan Ferrandis out of the lead on the way to take the victory.

Forkner, who was bumped aside by the points leader in events at Oakland and San Diego earlier this season, trails Ferrandis by seven points entering the season finale.

“The roles were reversed this time,” Forkner told NBCSN. “So I was the chaser this time, where as it’s usually been him. He had all the pressure on him.

“I felt really good. That race was one of the best races I’ve ever raced as far as Supercross. My speed was super good. I was really patient. The track was pretty easy to make a mistake, those two tight little turns were glass. I waited for an opening. It wasn’t much of an opening. I had to cut the turn pretty tight and make a pretty aggressive pass, but he would have done the same thing. He’s done the same thing to me. So all’s fair. It’s racing.”

Ferrandis hung on for second place and blamed himself for opening the door by misjudging a double jump because he misread the color of a flag.

“I can’t complain,” Ferrandis said of Forkner’s move. “I did it once before. So I’m not one to judge if it was clean or not. This race was just bad for me. Definitely a bad race.”

Jett Lawrence, 16, finished third — his first podium in his fifth career 250 start. “Once I got to the finish line, I can admit I cried a little bit,” Lawrence said. “All the time and work put into this. Even though it’s a third, I’d rather win, but I’m just thankful I’m alive right now and able to experience this.”

Seattle Supercross by the numbers: Three riders separated by 17 points


Three riders remain locked in a tight battle with 17 points separating the leader Cooper Webb from third-place Chase Sexton and these are only a few Supercross numbers to consider entering Seattle.

Seattle Supercross numbers
Chase Sexton made a statement in Detroit with his second win of 2023. – Feld Motor Sports

For the fifth time in 10 rounds. Sexton, Webb, and Eli Tomac shared the podium in Detroit. Between them, the trio has taken 23 podiums, leaving only seven for the remainder of the field. Jason Anderson, Ken Roczen and Justin Barcia have two each with Aaron Plessinger scoring the other.

Webb and Tomac won the last four championships with two apiece in alternating years, but they were not one another’s primary rival for most of those seasons. On the average, however, the past four years show an incredible similarity with average points earned of 21.0 for Webb and 21.3 for Tomac. With five wins so far this season, Tomac (23 wins) leads Webb (19) in victories but Webb (43) edges Tomac (41) in podium finishes during this span.

Tomac has won two of the last three Seattle races and those two wins in this stadium are topped only by James Stewart. Fittingly, if Tomac gets a third win this week, he will tie Stewart for second on the all-time wins’ list. Tomac tied Ricky Carmichael for third with 48 wins at Oakland and took sole possession of that spot with his Daytona win.

Sexton still has a lot to say and after winning last week in Detroit, he is speaking up. The Supercross numbers are against him entering Seattle, however, because a points’ deficit this large after Round 10 has been erased only once. In 1983 David Bailey was 47 points behind Bob Hannah, and like Sexton he was also in third place. Bailey took the points’ lead with one race remaining.

The seven points Sexton was penalized last week for jumping in a red cross flag section in Detroit could prove extremely costly.

In fact, it has been a series of mistakes that has cost Sexton the most. In the last two weeks, he lost 10 points with a 10th-place finish to go with his penalty. Erase those, and all three riders hold their fate in their hands.

Plessinger’s heartbreak in Detroit is still fresh, but the upside of his run is that was his best of the season and could turn his fortunes around. Prior to that race, he led only seven laps in three mains. He was up front for 20 laps in Detroit with five of those being the fastest on the track.

Last week’s win by Hunter Lawrence tied him with his brother Jett Lawrence for 17th on the all-time wins’ list. With the focus shifting to 250 West for the next two rounds, Jett has a great opportunity to pull back ahead. The real test will be at the first East / West Showdown in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 22.

Last Five Seattle Winners

2022: Eli Tomac
2019: Marvin Musquin
2018: Eli Tomac
2017: Marvin Musquin
2014: Ryan Villopoto

2022: Hunter Lawrence
2019: Dylan Ferrandis
2018: Aaron Plessinger
2017: Aaron Plessinger
2014: Cole Seely

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

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