Roczen & Tomac Set Sights on First 450 Championship with Early Lead

Ken Roczen pulls to an early and big lead back at Anaheim 2. Photo by Rachel Schuoler / Kickin' the Tires Photo by Rachel Schuoler / Kickin' the Tires

Both riders have won four of the first five main events in the 450 Monster Energy Supercross season — two a piece.

For Ken Roczen, it’s all been about dodging injury. Going into San Diego, he led the championship by three points over Eli Tomac, with the only other rider to win a race this season, Justin Barcia, sitting in third. But Oakland was a close call for the Red Bull Team Honda rider. After contact with last year’s champion Cooper Webb in the main event, it appeared Roczen may have injured his right foot. This caused worry for the team and fans, but Roczen was officially cleared on Wednesday to race in San Diego and continue fighting for his first 450SX championship.

“Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen is ready to rock for San Diego!” The team posted on their official Instagram account. “He had his right foot checked out on Monday following the Oakland SX and was given the green light that there was no serious damage. He’s been doing therapy throughout the week to alleviate swelling and pain. He rode today and was feeling great! Let’s keep the momentum going.”

The last three seasons have been a roller coaster for Roczen, suffering season-ending injuries, personal health concerns and even team and family related devastations. But for Roczen, his focus has stayed on taking it one race at a time. He won the second race of the season, and swept the Triple Crown main events at Glendale.

“The most important thing is to keep the focus,” Roczen shared after Glendale a few weeks ago. “It feels great, I’m just having fun out there but we’ve got to keep our mental game strong and be focused out there. Everybody’s going super fast so we’ve just got to stay on our game.”

Tomac has turned the switch after a slow start to the season. A quick rebound allowed him to find the podium and two wins on the season so far, as he sits second in the championship hunt. The 27 year old veteran outdueled Roczen in the much anticipated showdown last round in Oakland, and helped him close the gap to the championship lead.

“We both got out one-two and then just went to war there,” Tomac told NBCSN after the Oakland race.

Tomac has one of the best decorated two-wheel resumes across the globe, including three consecutive outdoor U.S. Nationals Motocross Series, but knows the Supercross title has continued to elude him year after year.

“I do view it that way,” Tomac said Friday afternoon before practicing at Petco Park. “The goal for us is to win 450(cc) championships. Supercross and Motocross season championships are at the top of our sport. I have the three Motocross titles. I want the Supercross title.”

Since 2017, Tomac is just a few races shy of a 50% win rate. Most would consider this earning championships throughout all those seasons, but with every position being crucial points, Tomac just had too many things go against him throughout each season. He believes having his training course at home in Cortez, Colo. has allowed him to show his best techniques only on race day.

“As a professional rider, I’ve benefited by training on my own facility by not showing everyone what I’m doing in training,” said Tomac. “Having some isolation, not showing everyone what we do all the time has been a big boost. So much shared information is shared during training, almost too much.”

The prestigious 450 Supercross championship has dodged both riders over the past few years. Roczen and Tomac are both setting the pace early in 2020, and with this head to head battle, there’s only bike that gets the No. 1 plate.

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