Roczen Leads the Main, Bourdon Earns Top-Ten Finish
Brea, CA – (January 22, 2024) – San Diego hosted round three of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross season in front of a sold-out crowd inside Snapdragon Stadium. Daytime rains saturated the track and cut qualifying short. The skies cleared for the racing, but the track was rutted, slick, muddy, and treacherous.
- Progressive Insurance ECSTAR Suzuki
- 450 Class
- Ken Roczen was the fastest qualifier and led seven laps in the main event.
- 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 was inside the top five in his qualifying group as the rain picked up.
- 450 Class
- Toyota Redlands BarX Suzuki
- 450 Class
- Derek Drake once again looked strong in the mud in his rookie 450 season.
- 250 Class
- Anthony Bourdon delivered another top-ten finish and sits just two points out of the top five in the championship points.
- Max Miller set the fastest time in his qualifying session and put in an incredible charge in the LCQ.
- 450 Class
Ken Roczen (94) had the speed in San Diego. Roczen was the fastest qualifier, finished second in his heat, and led the first third of the main event.
Ken Roczen (94) put his Suzuki into the main event lead down the first rhythm section and reeled off consecutive fast laps. Unfortunately, a small slip sent Roczen to the ground and then to the mechanics' area to straighten out his bike; spoiling his chance of delivering back-to-back podium finishes for his Progressive Insurance ECSTAR Suzuki team.
“Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be yet. Everything was going well until I got slightly off balance and my foot peg grabbed the rut and bucked me. My front end was so twisted I barely made it back to the mechanics’ area for a pit stop. Of course, I stalled it along the way again. I’m holding my head high as I am riding well, my starts are good, and I am really enjoying my Suzuki. Things like this are part of racing,” said Roczen.
Shane McElrath (12) earned a second-place result in the LCQ but was unable to match last week’s top-five main performance in San Diego.
Shane McElrath (12) missed a direct transfer out of his heat by one spot. In the opening laps of the LCQ McElrath challenged for the lead twice then settled for second. He earned points in the main to stay in the championship points hunt.
“This one was a lot tougher for me than last weekend,” reported McElrath. “The conditions were very deceiving. It was honestly like riding on ice. I was sliding all over the place and struggling with traction. This mud was so sticky I felt like I couldn’t go in a straight line. I overcame what I could and I’m pretty excited about where I’m at; there are a lot of positives to take away from the night. Results-wise it was not super great but we’re working on that, and that’s going to come.”
Kyle Chisholm (11) had a strong pace and made good passes in the LCQ in San Diego.
Kyle Chisholm’s (11) race starts were off, unfortunately leading him to ride deep in the pack and getting taken out by another rider during his heat race. Another sub-par start stacked the deck against Chisholm in the LCQ. He passed his way forward but only reached sixth place by the time the checkered flag waved.
“I like the mud, but just like last week I couldn’t get off the gate in the heat or the LCQ,” said Chisholm. “I got up to sixth in the LCQ, and just missed the main. It’s definitely not where I want to be, but I’m taking the good, which is that I feel good on the bike and my Suzuki feels great. We’ll try again next week at Anaheim and get back up where I should be.”
In San Diego, Derek Drake (52) couldn’t replicate his strong performance from the prior weekend.
Derek Drake’s (52) speed has been excellent in the first races of his rookie 450 class season. Unfortunately, a mistake in the mud of San Diego prevented Drake from continuing his rise in the point standings.
“I’m usually all for mud races but this one was tricky,” said Drake. “I fell right after the first turn in the heat and had to go back to the truck to get ready for the LCQ. In the LCQ I had a decent start and made a couple of passes, but then I made a big mistake and jumped off the track, and that put the nail in it for the night. On to the next!”
With only three US Supercross races under his belt, Frenchman Anthony Bourdon (100) sits in sixth place in the championship points..
Through the challenging track conditions, AMA Supercross rookie Bourdon and his BarX Suzuki RM-Z250 put in a consistent ride to card Bourdon’s second top-ten result. He earned enough points to jump up five positions in the season standings.
“I didn't have a very good feeling all day on this track, either in practice or in the night racing,” explained Bourdon. “I had good starts despite my poor grid position, and I'm happy to have gone straight through to the main once again. I'm most happy about scoring another top-ten finish. I’m sixth in the championship, only two points from the top five after three races. If someone had told me I would be in this position before Anaheim 2, I'd have signed up straight away. It’s been a positive start to the season!”
Max Miller (87) topped the qualifying times in his session and carded a fifth-best qualifying time overall.
Max Miller had the speed in San Diego but a first turn crash in the LCQ put Miller at a dead stop. He charged as high as sixth but unfortunately was not able to translate his track speed into a transfer to the main.
“I had great speed all day but had some bad luck with other racers that cost me a transfer spot.” Miller went on to explain, “I got tangled up in the first turn of the LCQ then put together a good charge, but I just fell short of a transfer spot.”
“We started off the day very well, but then the rain came,” said Twisted Tea/H.E.P. Motorsports Suzuki presented by Progressive Insurance Team Manager Larry Brooks. “The track was a mess. It was thick, heavy mud. In the main event, Ken Roczen led the first seven laps until having a crash. He twisted the front end of the bike, causing him to have one lap that put him a lap down. He had to stop in the mechanics’ area. It ended up being a rough night for him, finishing twelfth, but salvaging as many points as possible. Shane McElrath qualified out of the Last Chance Qualifier with a second and ended up 16th in the main event. Kyle Chisholm really struggled with the mud and with his starts. So we go to a Triple Crown event next weekend at Anaheim Stadium. I feel like Ken Roczen is one of the fastest riders out there, he just hasn’t put a complete main event together. He hasn’t linked the start with the race and has just had a couple of mistakes so far in these first three races. So we’re coming for redemption at A2.”
“It was another challenging night with the weather,” commented James Coy, Team Manager of Toyota Redlands BarX Suzuki. “I feel like Feld made all the right calls with the changes to the program and we had every opportunity to do well. Unfortunately, we came up a bit short of our expectations. However, we learned from it, and we are looking forward to A2 next weekend. Our Suzuki RM-Zs have proven once again to be very solid in these conditions and I know they will be even better moving forward.”
The race series returns to Angel Stadium of Anaheim for the final California race, and the first Triple Crown race, before heading east. The weather forecast looks clear for round four and the riders and teams are looking to return to normal Supercross conditions.
Fans attending the 2024 races are encouraged to stop by the Suzuki team rigs to see the race bikes and riders and sign up for the unique “Kickstart for a Cause” giveaway where one fan will win Ken Roczen’s Suzuki RM-Z race bike at the end of the season.
Please visit SuzukiCycles.com/Racing/Motocross and HEPMotorsports.com for more team news.
Photos by BrownDogWilson Photography