Ken Roczen Podiums, Shane McElrath Fourth at Brutal San Francisco Supercross
Brea, CA – (January 15, 2024) – Heavy rains before and during the San Francisco Supercross challenged both rider and machine with one of the toughest mud races the sport has ever seen. The AMA abbreviated qualifying to one session and modified the track before the main events, but the ruts and heavy mud still made for a treacherous track at Oracle Park
- Progressive Insurance ECSTAR Suzuki
- 450 Class
- Ken Roczen earned his first podium finish of the season and moved up three positions in the championship standings.
- 450 Class
- Twisted Tea Suzuki presented by Progressive Insurance
- 450 Class
- Shane McElrath earned a direct transfer to the main then backed that up with fast, consistent laps throughout the main.
- Kyle Chisholm missed a direct transfer by one position and ran into trouble in the first corner of the LCQ.
- 450 Class
- Toyota Redlands BarX Suzuki
- 450 Class
- Derek Drake improved on his result in only his second 450 class Supercross race.
- 250 Class
- Anthony Bourdon ran as high as second place in his second-ever AMA Supercross race, taking home a top-ten final result.
- Max Miller battled hard in his heat race as the muddy track deteriorated.
- 450 Class
Ken Roczen (94) was the rider on the move, passing from far back in the pack in the main to deliver his first podium of 2024.
Ken Roczen finished strong in third place in his heat race and earned a good gate pick for the main event. A small mistake following a great start turned Roczen’s race upside down; the pack passed him. But even in the shortened main event he was able to charge his way up to third place. Roczen put the Suzuki RM-Z450 on the podium at round two and moved up three positions in the championship standings to now sit in a tie for sixth place.
“San Francisco was something different as it was the craziest mud race I’ve probably ever done,” said Roczen. “As we all know, those kind of conditions can really work in your favor, but it can also go the other way. [In the main] I got off to a really good start, I went around the first turn in first, but I couldn’t pull a tear off and was riding blind; so I just hit the brake and stalled it. I was super bummed, as that made for a really tough main event. But at the same time I knew that in fifteen minutes plus one lap, anything can happen, and I had enough time. You can really make up some ground with those muddy conditions. So I ended up coming all the way up to third and I couldn’t have been more stoked on my riding and everything that came with it. We earned a podium, our first podium of the year.”
Shane McElrath (12) had a breakthrough ride for his career-best 450 class Supercross result.
Shane McElrath put his Suzuki RM-Z450 inside the top five with a fourth-place result in San Francisco. After crossing the holeshot line in fifth, McElrath battled his way up to third place and started applying pressure on the second-place rider. He settled into a good pace and only gave up one position, when fellow Suzuki racer Roczen got around him at just past the 10-minute mark of the main.
“Man it was a muddy mess all day today,” said McElrath. “Thankfully, I made it through straight to the main from my heat race after going down on the first lap. I ended up with a really good gate in the main. I had a good rut [off the starting gate] and just did the best I could. I came out in a good spot off the start and ran up towards the front the whole time. It was a game of survival out there just trying to stay up. It was tricky and it just continued to get worse the whole race. I’m stoked to end up with a fourth tonight; that’s a new career-best in the 450 class for me. I’m excited to get back to work this week and we’ll see you all in San Diego next weekend.”
Kyle Chisholm (11) was fast in his heat but a crash in the first corner of the LCQ ended his night early.
Kyle Chisholm went into the mud race with a positive attitude, but two crashes in the chaotic first turn prevented him from a spot in the main event.
“In the heat race I unfortunately went down in the first turn,” said Chisholm. “I put my head down and rode my best, I’m happy with my riding, but just missed going straight to the main by one spot. In the LCQ I sent it in the first turn, and I just went off the track and slid out. I went down and went into a wall and that was all she wrote. I hurt my leg a bit, all the x-rays afterward look good, but I’m sore. I was really looking forward to getting out there in the main event and playing in the mud and trying to card a strong finish.”
Derek Drake (52) did a great job adapting to the 450 and a more-battered racetrack.
Derek Drake crossed the holeshot line in eleventh but lost a handful of positions on the chaotic opening lap. He charged forward on his BarX Suzuki RM-Z450 to earn enough points to move up two positions in the championship standings.
“San Francisco was good,” said Drake. “I was glad to make it straight out of the heat into the main. For the main, all I was worried about was to keep the wheels moving and see the checkered flag, and that ended up being P-13. It was a good weekend and now on to the next!”
Anthony Bourdon (100) impressed the fans, taking over second place halfway through his second-ever US Supercross race.
In the 250-class main, Anthony Bourdon grabbed a fifth-place start from the inside gate. He and his BarX Suzuki moved quickly into third, then took over second position two and half minutes into the 10-minute plus one lap main event. A small tip over in the thick mud cost Bourdon time and positions but he charged back for an impressive sixth-place result.
“What a round in San Francisco!” exclaimed Bourdon. “I love to ride in the mud and got my best career results in Europe in the mud, but honestly I didn’t expect the conditions to be like this. I knew I had to get a good start and not crash. I started third but crashed and stalled the bike in the same lap, which cost me a lot of time. I was consistent every lap after that to finish sixth. I am happy even though I knew that the podium was in reach. I can’t wait for the next round in San Diego.”
Max Miller (87) charged through his heat race but small mistakes in the slick conditions kept him out of a direct transfer spot.
Max Miller showed great speed in his heat aboard his Suzuki RM-Z250, but couldn’t battle forward far enough to seize a transfer to the main.
“I had a great jump out of the gate in the heat race but ended up going down on the start,” explained Miller. “I worked my way up to 13th in the heat race. I went out for the LCQ but was unable to finish due to a mechanical.”
“It was definitely one of the worst mud races I’ve ever attended,” commented Larry Brooks, Team Manager for the Twisted Tea/H.E.P. Motorsports/Suzuki presented by Progressive Insurance team. “In the LCQ Kyle had a big crash in the first turn which ended his night right there. In the main event, Ken Rozcen was the first rider into the first corner, but he stalled the motor reaching up for a tear-off. It was crazy. But he got going in 22nd place and charged up to third place, putting himself on the podium. It was a heroic effort. Shane McElrath ran in third for part of the race and finished in fourth position. The HEP team had two riders in the top five; that was the best we’ve finished since the team’s been around, so that’s something to be proud of. Our Suzuki RM-Zs ran great all night long and it ended up being a great night for us.”
“I am so proud of the team tonight,” said Toyota Redlands BarX Suzuki Team Manager James Coy. “Everyone came together and worked so hard to get through this race. Our Suzuki RM-Zs were really good in the muddy conditions, and I am incredibly happy to leave with a sixth and a 13th. After a lot of cleanup and preparation we will be ready for San Diego.”
The Suzuki riders, RM-Zs, and team members are ready for any weather that round three has in store for them. Watch for more strong rides from all the Suzuki teams inside Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego on Saturday, January 20th.
Please visit SuzukiCycles.com/Racing/Motocross and HEPMotorsports.com for more team news.
Photos by BrownDogWilson Photography