Hangtown Classic Motocross Race Report 2016

A look at the opening round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship near Rancho Cordova, California

Ken Roczen, Hangtown Classic MX, 2016
Ken Roczen drew first blood in the outdoor series, posting up a 1-1 performance for the overall win at the GoPro Hangtown Classic.Photo By Jeff Kardas

Sorta like Anaheim 1, the opening round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Series is a race that a lot of riders just want to get through without incident. And then there are those who want to make a statement. Ken Roczen might obviously be in the latter group, after he threw down the gauntlet at the 48th running of the GoPro Hangtown Classic this weekend in Rancho Cordova, California, and showed everyone the way to the checkers. Joey Savatgy did the same in the 250 class. Both riders finished off this year’s Supercross series with impressive performances and have carried that momentum outdoors.

Roczen was incredibly aggressive in the first lap of each 450 moto. The RCH/Soaring Eagle/Jimmy Johns Suzuki rider got quickly into the lead, pulled out a comfortable cushion, and then rode the winning pace to the finish. While he was slicing through the pack on the opening lap, Roczen looked like he was getting on the gas 10 feet before the other riders, while they were still braking.

Roczen is obviously determined to come away with a second 450 outdoor title and at this point he has the speed to do just that, although we’ve seen him stumble mid-season before so it remains to be seen what the German transplant can do with the ever steady Ryan Dungey on his tail.

Roczen's moto sweep helped him open a six-point lead over Dungey in the initial 450 Class standings. Tomac sits third, 14 points back.

"We're in a way better position than we were last year when I came in hurt. That's all behind us and now I can go out and can focus on my riding. I'm really happy with the bike," said Roczen. "I've always done well at Hangtown, but today the track was really different. It had notches and was hard in certain spots. It's nice to get the first [race] out of the way. I want to bring [my best effort] every single weekend. I played catch up last year [with the injury], so this season I have a chance to start fresh and build momentum. I'm glad I put myself in a good position, but it's still a long year."

Ryan Dungey, Hangtown Classic MX, 2016
Ryan Dungey's 2-2 keeps him in good position for the title chase. Look for the Red Bull KTM rider come on strong during the eastern rounds.Photo By Jeff Kardas

Dungey looked good, as well. And moved into second behind Roczen early in the first moto but was not able to close the gap. In the second moto, the Red Bull KTM rider took the lead right from the get-go, but couldn’t hold off the hard charging Roczen and was forced to settle into second.

Hangtown is historically not Dungey’s track so a 2-2 it’s probably not a huge disappointment to him, and he is most likely looking forward to when the series moves east. He and Roczen looked to be in a class of their own.

"Overall today was really good,” said Dungey. “Two seconds is good, but when you look at both races individually we were able to close down on [Roczen's] lead in the first moto. In the second moto he was able to get ahead of me and really [open a] gap. I started to figure out some new lines and closed in again, which is encouraging. I really was trying to adapt to the bike and find that comfort today. I don't typically do that, but I trust everyone at KTM and know we're where we want to be. Round 1 was good and we're going to get better week by week."

Blake Baggett, Hangtown Classic MX, 2016
Blake Baggett came on strong at the end of the first moto to move into third by the finish, however, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider high-sided near the end of the second moto and broke his collarbone.Photos By Jeff Kardas

Baggett was fast and showed signs of his old self, getting stronger as the motos went on, just like he did back in his 250 days. The Yoshimura Suzuki rider passed Tomac when Tomac was on the charge, and held on to finish third in the first moto, however, he tipped over with about four laps to go in the second moto and broke his collarbone. Reports have him undergoing surgery on Monday.

Eli Tomac, Hangtown Classic MX, 2016
Eli Tomac was not nearly as impressive as he was at last year's opener, but a third place finish keeps him in the running until he can find the speed he had at this time last year.Photos By Jeff Kardas

Tomac got mediocre starts in both motos and moved forward, moving from 12th to third in the first moto, and from eighth to third in the second moto. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider looked comfortable and fast but was off the pace of Dungey and Roczen. Certainly not the start Tomac wanted, but perhaps he's easing into the season after dominating last year but eventually crashing out after starting a perfect season.

Jason Anderson, Hangtown Classic MX, 2016
Jason Anderson struggled with starts but still came away with a 6-3 performance for fourth overall.Photos By Jeff Kardas

Jason Anderson qualified third and seemed determined to start his 2016 outdoor season on a high note, just like he did in this year’s Supercross series. The Rockstar Energy Factory Husqvarna rider started at the back of the pack in the first moto and worked his way up to sixth, but got a better start in the second moto and eventually finished third. The 6-3 result was good enough for fourth overall on the day.

“I got a bad start my first moto but then I had a great first half of the moto,” said Anderson. “I feel like I kind of got stuck at some point and couldn’t really keep it going. The second moto was really good, though. Fourth overall isn’t horrible, but I definitely want to be better."

Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac, Hangtown Classic MX, 2016
Justin Barcia (51) leads Eli Tomac during moto one. Barcia is hoping to find the speed and starts he displayed during last year's series.Photos By Jeff Kardas

Trey Canard had an encouraging day, compared to the luck he’s been having at some of the Supercross rounds. The HRC Honda rider got a great start in the first moto, but a minor crash cost him a few positions. He eventually worked back up to seventh by the end of the moto. A fifth in moto two was good enough to give Canard fifth overall for the day – not a bad start to the year.

Canard’s HRC Honda teammate Cole Seely grabbed the holeshot to start moto one, but got off the line mid-pack in the second moto. A little more consistency with his starts and Seely will be challenging for podiums.

Speaking of a disappointing Supercross season, Autotrader/Monster Energy/Yamaha's Justin Barcia is trying to forget about his Supercross season and start anew in the outdoor series. A 10-6 for seventh overall is definitely an improvement, especially since he ran up front for several laps of the second moto, proving he’s still got the speed.

Joey Savatgy, Hangtown Classic MX, 2016
Joey Savatgy got off to the best possible start in the 250 class, going 1-1 for the overall win.Photos By Jeff Kardas

250 MX

Joey Savatgy picked up where he left off in Vegas by dominating the 250 class at Hangtown. Savatgy put his Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki on the middle step of the podium with a 1-1 performance. The rest of the field was not as consistent.

Alex Martin, Hangtown Classic MX, 2016
Alex Martin went 8-2 for second overall in the 250 class.Photos By Jeff Kardas

Alex Martin went 8-2 for second overall, Aaron Plessinger went 9-3 for fourth, and Jeremy Martin posted a 3-9 for fifth. Among the top five, only Cooper Webb showed any amount of consistency resembling Savatgy’s performance, going 4-5 for third overall.

The Yamaha guys were second through fifth, that's four riders in the top five overall. That's a strong team! Martin had a great second moto and rode strong the whole race to finish second.

Cooper Webb, Hangtown Classic MX, 2016
Cooper Webb is still dealing with a sore wrist but managed a 4-5 for third overall.Photos By Jeff Kardas

Meanwhile, Jordan Smith turned in his best performance yet with a second in moto one. The GEICO Honda rider was running third in the second moto, but was taken out by Alex Martin and struggled to work his way back into 16th by the end of the moto.

Austin Forkner got off to a good start at his outdoor debut, running as high as third at one point and finishing the race in eighth via 13-8 finishes.

Tristen Charboneau was flying in the first part of the first moto, and went 6-14 for ninth on his GEICO Honda. Meanwhile, Adam Cianciarulo was not as impressive and spent most of his time outside the top 10, eventually settling into 12-11 moto finishes for 13th overall.

HANGTOWN MX RESULTS

450 Class

  1. Ken Roczen, Germany, Suzuki (1-1)

  2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM (2-2)

  3. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (4-4)

  4. Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Husqvarna (6-3)

  5. Trey Canard, Shawnee, Okla., Honda (7-5)

  6. Cole Seely, Newbury Park, Calif., Honda (5-10)

  7. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha (10-6)

  8. Marvin Musquin, France, KTM (9-7)

  9. Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., Kawasaki (8-8)

  10. Phil Nicoletti, Cohocton, N.Y., Yamaha (11-9)

250 Class

  1. Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., Kawasaki (1-1)

  2. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha (8-2)

  3. Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., Yamaha (4-5)

  4. Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha (9-3)

  5. Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha (3-9)

  6. Jessy Nelson, Paso Robles, Calif., KTM (7-6)

  7. Jordon Smith, Belmont, N.C., Honda (2-16)

  8. Austin Forkner, Richards, Mo., Kawasaki (13-7)

  9. Tristan Charboneau, Tenino, Wash., Honda (6-14)

  10. Mitchell Oldenburg, Alvord, Texas, KTM