SAN DIEGO — Monster Energy Supercross, an FIM World Championship, hosted its fourth annual Military Appreciation Race on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 40,682 fans inside Petco Park.
The second round of the season featured a captivating battle for the 450SX Class win between Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen and Team Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Ryan Dungey, with Roczen emerging victorious to open the season with back-to-back wins.
In the Western Regional 250SX Class, Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM’s Shane McElrath raced to his second straight victory in a thrilling Main Event, extending his championship lead.
As the field roared out of the gate to start the 450SX Class event, Dungey, the defending Monster Energy Supercross Champion, put his KTM out front to earn the SupercrossLive.com Holeshot Award with his teammate Marvin Musquin and Roczen tucked close behind. Roczen was able to slot into second and immediately started to apply pressure on Dungey. The champ fended off an initial challenge and the pair then settled into position, pacing one another for six laps.
On lap seven, Roczen was able to take advantage of a slight miscue by Dungey, diving under the KTM rider to assume the lead. Dungey fought back and was able to put a wheel inside his rival on several occasions before settling into second. The distance between the two over the second half of the event was virtually the same as it was earlier in the race, but as they encountered lapped riders Dungey was able to close the deficit and apply pressure in the closing stages.
The KTM rider mounted a serious challenge over the final two laps and was able to briefly get alongside Roczen on the final lap until a bobble stalled his momentum, allowing the German to take a hard-earned win.
It’s just the second time in Roczen’s career that he’s been able to win back-to-back races. He’s won four the last five races dating back to last season.
“Ryan [Dungey] kept me on my toes. The track broke down and it was really rough out there, but that’s the fun part,” said Roczen, who now has 11 career wins. “I hope the fans enjoyed it. That’s what they want to see [a battle for the win]. I’m actually happier with this weekend’s win than last weekend’s. I’m happy to be up here again. Another day in the books and I’m looking forward to next weekend.”
Dungey’s runner-up finish was the landmark 90th podium result of his career. He’s finished inside the top three in 35 of the past 37 races, going all the way back to the final round of the 2014 season.
“I had two spots where I thought I could [make the pass] and I made a mistake before each of them. I came in too hot into one of the corners. I knew it was the last lap and I was trying hard,” said Dungey. “We [Roczen and I] fought to the end. It was an intense race. It was good because I led a little bit and then he led. We were really pushing the pace and if you’re going to race someone like that, it’s going to be a battle to the end.”
After settling into third off the start behind Dungey and Roczen, Musquin went virtually unchallenged en route to a third-place finish, duplicating the finishing order of the top three from the opening round one week ago.
Roczen extended his lead in the championship to six points over Dungey.