RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. – After three years of a long and tough comeback from injury, Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen made his long-awaited return to the top step of the podium during Saturday’s Bell Helmets Hangtown Motocross Classic.
In the 250 class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo rebounded from his heartbreaking end to the recent AMA Supercross season with a hard-fought win.
The first 450 Class moto of the afternoon began with Cooper Webb capturing the holeshot over Justin Barcia. As they duked it out for the top spot it allowed Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson and Roczen to jump into the fray.
Webb established control of the lead, with Anderson slotting into second and Roczen third. An aggressive Roczen then found his way around Anderson for second and set his sights on Webb for the lead. The German continued to push and successfully took over control of the race before the conclusion of the opening lap.
Once he had a clear track Roczen quickly put multiple seconds between he and Webb, while Anderson settled into third. Despite the rain, Roczen continued his flawless ride all the way to the finish. He took the opening moto win by 15 seconds over Anderson. Webb was third, while Eli Tomac salvaged fourth.
Much more difficult track conditions awaited the riders for the second moto and as the field stormed out the gate it was Marvin Musquin who emerged with the holeshot over Webb and Tomac. Musquin was able to maintain his hold on the top spot, but it was short lived as Tomac was determined to get to the front, and did so. Behind them, Roczen moved his way into third and surged past Musquin to take second right behind Tomac.
The lead duo were able to pull away from the rest of the field almost immediately, and Roczen’s impressive early pace literally allowed him to jump over Tomac into the lead. The battle up front saw Tomac keep Roczen within reach, with both riders patiently working their way through the rough and muddy conditions.
Tomac kept Roczen honest, and as they approached lapped riders just before the halfway point it worked to the benefit of the champ. As Roczen slowed briefly, Tomac seized the moment to dive to the inside the reclaim the lead. From that point on, he left Roczen and the rest of the field behind.
Tomac’s path to the second moto win wasn’t without its moments, but he took the checkered flag by 43 seconds over Roczen, who ultimately chose to protect the win and ride all by himself in second.
Roczen’s 1-2 outing provided him with his first win since the final round of his championship-winning 2016 season. Since then he has endured through a pair of career-threatening injuries to each of his arms, in which he was forced to fight his way back from more than 10 surgeries.
“It’s been a very, very long time [since I won a race]. Overall the whole day was good,” said Roczen. “It’s difficult at the first race to know what to expect [from yourself] and to know where everyone else is. I just did my best every time I was on the track and it got us a win. It was really sloppy out there and [when conditions are like that] it can easily go in either direction [bad or good], so it feels good that we ended up on the positive side of it.”
In the 250 class, Cianciarulo’s 2-1 effort gave him the second overall win of his career in his first start since the 2017 season, following knee surgery last summer. He becomes the 32nd different rider to earn a 250 class victory at Hangtown.
Justin Cooper won the first 250 class moto, but a fourth place effort in the second Moto allowed Cianciarulo to claim the overall 250 class victory.