BLOUNTVILLE — Ken Roczen is riding with the composure of a motocross veteran.
With three laps to go in Saturday’s Red Bull Tennessee National for the AMA Lucas Pro Motocross Series, Roczen hit a rut at a wrong angle and nearly flipped over the handbars of his KTM 450 motorcycle. It didn’t phase the 19-year-old German in the least.
He pulled away to a 6.687-second win over teammate and defending race champion Ryan Dungey to win the second annual race. It was Roczen’s third win of the season and he left the Blountville track with a 16-point lead over Dungey in the series standings
“I guess my rear tire got stuck in a rut and it took it sideways quite a bit,” Roczen said about his near fall. “Once I leaned, it took it the other way. When the bike gets sideways that much, it’s tough to hold on to the handlebars. It was such a quick reaction that I was glad I was able to pull that off and then make a charge to get a little bit of a gap.”
Yamaha rider Cooper Webb overcame great disappointment in the first 250 moto to score the overall victory.
In the featured 450 class, it was all Roczen in the second moto as track conditions grew tougher. He has found out the 450 motorcycles are more suited to his style than the 250 class which he rode last year.
“I’ve always liked the bigger bikes more than the smaller bikes,” Roczen said. “I’m not revving the bike too much and that’s kind of a problem for some riders when they come off the 250’s. They try to keep that same style and that’s a problem for them.”
Dungey had picked up where he left off at Muddy Creek Raceway the year before in the first 450 moto. He passed Eli Tomac on the 12th lap and powered out to a 15-second win over Roczen. However, he lost the overall title after both KTM riders ended with 47 points.
“I got behind him by about two seconds and we went back and forth a little bit,” Dungey said about the second moto. “I caught him in the middle of the race, but that last lap, the lappers got in the way. It’s tough to deal with sometimes, but we all have to deal with it. It wasn’t a make-or-break situation anyway. We just lost a lot of time, but overall it was good.”
Tomac, a Honda rider, finished third in both motos to finish third with 40 points. He bolted out on the holeshot in the first moto and stayed out front until Dungey charged from fifth and finally passed him under the finish line tower.
In the overall standings, Trey Canard finished fourth on a Honda and Andrew Short on a KTM rounded out the top five.
The competition was even closer in the 250 class than the featured division, especially in the first moto.
Blake Baggett made a pass to the outside with his Kawasaki on the final jump to win the first 250 moto by just .08 seconds and deny Webb his first ever moto victory.
It only made Webb, an 18-year-old from North Carolina, more determined than ever. He was again challenged by Baggett, who nearly passed him on lap 13. However, an aggressive Baggett got crossed up with a lapped bike with two laps to go and fell. Baggett, the points leader, wound up third in the moto and second overall.
For Webb, it was redemption only hours after losing the first moto.
“I was pretty disappointed after that first one, but I had the mindset I was going to get it done,” Webb said. “I was pretty fired up and was determined after losing on the last jump. I knew I had to get sketchy if I wanted to win. I want to thank God, my mom and dad and the Rockstar Yamaha team. This was definitely the best bike I’ve ever ridden.”