Roczen Crowned Lucas Oil Motocross Champ

Ken Roczen locked up his first Lucas Oil Pro Motocross championship Saturday in Utah. (Simon Cudby Photo)
Ken Roczen locked up his first Lucas Oil Pro Motocross championship Saturday in Utah. (Simon Cudby Photo)
Ken Roczen locked up his first Lucas Oil Pro Motocross championship Saturday in Utah. (Simon Cudby Photo)

TOOELE, Utah – The 12th and final round of the 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, signified the series’ second ever visit to Miller Motorsports Park, just outside of Salt Lake City, for the Zions Bank Utah National on Saturday.

With a title yet to be decided in the premier 450 Class, the spotlight was on the Red Bull KTM duo of Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey over the final two motos of the summer as 20 points separated the teammates entering the afternoon. Roczen was a fixture at the forefront of the field all afternoon, but ultimately rode patiently to ensure he would clinch the title in his first season of 450 Class competition with a fourth-place finish, ending the summer with a 14-point advantage over Dungey.

Out front on the 450 Class, Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard continued his strong close to the season and was dominant en route to his first career win, posting a 1-1 effort to become the division’s 62nd different winner. In the 250 Class, Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin capped off his championship-clinching effort from a week ago with a decisive outing of his own, posting his third 1-1 effort of the season to finish out 2014 with a class-leading five victories.

Canard, undoubtedly the hottest rider in the series coming into Utah, kept the momentum going in the opening 450 Class moto, surging past GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac off the start and holding off Roczen to earn the Holeshot Award. As the riders slotted into position, Canard, Roczen, Dungey and Tomac immediately established a four-rider breakaway that would last the entirety of the moto.

Canard withstood constant pressure from Roczen throughout the early stages of the moto, but as they began to make their way through lappers, Roczen almost went down after contact with another rider, allowing Canard to open a comfortable lead and dropping Roczen into the clutches of his teammate in third.

While Canard comfortably pulled away out front, Roczen, Dungey and Tomac did battle for the podium. On lap 14, Dungey made the pass on Roczen for second, only to give the position back a few laps later when a lapper altered his line. As that sequence of events unfolded, Tomac encountered his own misfortune and lost touch with the leaders.

Dungey fought back and was able to re-pass Roczen with two laps remaining. Out front, Canard cruised to his third moto win in his last four attempts, nearly seven seconds ahead of Dungey, who gained two valuable points on Roczen in third. Tomac was fourth with Toyota/Yamaha/N-FAB/JGRMX’s Josh Grant rounding out the top five.

It was more of the same from Canard in Moto 2, once again capturing the Holeshot Award ahead of Roczen. The duo set a torrid pace on the opening lap to open a small gap on their rivals, while Dungey overcame a start outside the top five to move into third by the end of the opening lap. While Canard maintained control of the lead, Dungey soon began to put pressure on his teammate for second and after applying pressure for a few laps, was able to make the move on lap five. Dungey closed in to within a couple seconds of Canard, but could never mount a serious challenge.

Canard capped off his perfect day nearly eight seconds ahead of Dungey in second, while Tomac also made his way past Roczen to finish third.

Canard won four of the last five motos to close out the season on a high note. He earned his first career moto win at Unadilla two weeks ago and finished second overall in the two rounds leading into Utah. The victory came in his 26th career 450 Class start.

“I’ve gotten more comfortable [the last few weeks]. It’s no secret we made bike changes and it was instant for me in gaining more confidence,” explained Canard. “I really have to attribute that to the team and I’ve had a lot of fun. I’ve been through such a roller coaster career I thought that if I didn’t win today then it would be hard to win [ever]. I just wanted to put two motos together to give us [momentum] going into next year.”