MAKING his debut ride with the HRC Honda squad, Ken Roczen proved the transition from Suzuki has been an easy one with a convincing performance ahead of his AMA rivals in the Monster Energy Cup at the weekend.
Fastest race laps, plus fastest in qualifying and two easy race wins were blotted when he hit the deck hard mid-race while leading and had to pull out of race two.
But it was still a strong showing for the German in front of a heavy turn-out from HRC Japan staff, including Director of Motocross Keisuke Inomoto and MXGP Director Junji Miyazaki.
Roczen (pictured) set the quickest time in qualifying practice with a 1:04.486 lap. In the first main event, Roczen’s 1:05.077 was the fastest lap of the race.
Although he crashed out of the second race, he did set the fastest time at 1:03.523. He then had the third-quickest time of 1:03. 852 while riding to a comfortable win in the final race.
Roczen said: “We ended up having a good day overall. I grabbed the holeshot and pretty much checked out, which was absolutely amazing. We went into the second race and didn’t get a great jump out of the gate but snuck around the inside and I was able to get into the lead pretty quick.
“I was riding good but made a big error and got ejected from the bike. I’m glad that everything is okay and I have no injuries.
“I made the pass on [Mike] Alessi a few laps in and just tried not to crash; the track was really sketchy and the wind made for bad conditions. Overall it was a great debut with the new team and the new bike, so we’re ready to do work now and come out swinging at Anaheim.”
Although the night was positive overall for Team Honda HRC, Roczen’s bike was sufficiently damaged in his crash to require a number of technicians to work together to repair it for the third race.
Team manager Dan Betley said: “We had a few little problems tonight and everyone came together to get that bike going for Kenny and get him back on the line for the last race.
“It was good to work with the new bike at a race like this before the season starts, and I can’t say enough about my guys. I’m pumped with our team structure right now, so I can’t wait for 2017.”