Coming into Round 3 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Ken Roczen was not only the holder of the points lead in the 450SX but he was also coming from a race the previous week in Glendale in which he led the most laps on route to a solid third overall. With a podium finish in the opening round, Roczen’s early season consistency was once again something to marvel. Considering where the German rider has been during the past two seasons, consistency and finishing all 17 rounds of SX in 2019 is his most important task.
On Saturday evening in Anaheim, Roczen and his fellow SX riders were competing in the first Triple Crown event of the 2019 season, with three exciting main events all counting towards the overall for the night. To win Anaheim 2, a rider had to be fast and most importantly consistent. As the gate dropped on the opening main event, Ken Roczen appeared to be the rider who could adapt to this interesting format the best. After a solid second in the first Main Event, Roczen put himself in a perfect position to take his first SX overall win since destroying his arm exactly two years prior.
During the middle portion of the second main event, Roczen was not only in second behind eventual winner Cooper Webb but it was obvious to most inside Angel Stadium that it might be just a matter of time before Roczen would make a pass for the lead. Then with just a few laps remaining, as Roczen entered the very tricky whoop section after Turn 2, Roczen mistakenly dropped his front wheel in between the first and second whoop. On every other lap he carried his front wheel over the first two whoops and then dropped it down after the second whoop. This premature dive of his front wheel instantly made his factory Honda unstable and from that point on. Kenny looked more like a bull rider who was trying to stay on his bucking bull for at least eight seconds. Knowing how important his finish was in the second main event, Roczen admirably held on for another few seconds before the huck-a-buck just became too violent and spit him off. Thankfully, this whoop section was the slower of the two on the Anaheim 2 track so Ken landed somewhat softly. He bounced up quickly and continued on to a solid fifth place finish. Although he lost the battle at Anaheim 2, Roczen’s fourth overall was good enough for him to retain the red plates for another week. These top SX riders don’t make many mistakes throughout each main event but when they do it usually results in some sort of crash. As you can tell, the margin for error is very small as by simply dropping his front wheel six inches before he wanted to resulted in a crash.
To fully complete his comeback, I believe that Roczen has to first win a main event and then a SX championship. With a few top riders already injured, Ken Roczen’s newfound consistency might just be his greatest attribute in 2019. Thanks to Frank Hoppen, we have a frame by frame look at Roczen’s crash on Saturday night. As you can see, things went badly very quickly in a section that gave the riders difficulties all night long.