THE AFTERMATH: KEN ROCZEN VS. DEAN WILSON VS. COOPER WEBB
The final round of the Houston Supercross rounds came to end and it was one that we won’t forget. The third round in NRG Stadium composed of a new layout that was reworked by Dirt Wurx featuring a sweeping right hand turn with an extended sand section. The track featured longer lap times, however this did not stop the Houston dirt from becoming increasingly degraded by the end of the night show.
Great to see the fans having a good time.
With the new features of the track came a lot of upsets before the racing even began. The 250 class most notably had some top contenders for the championship get injured before timed qualifying was over for the racers. RJ Hampshire went down hard early in the morning after endoing a jump during the first practice session. Austin Forkner crashed in the first timed qualifying session while practicing a line choice different than the rest of the competitors. Both of these guys gave the rest of the top 250 East Coast riders a run for their money and now with them out of the picture in Houston, we had a good idea of who was going to be the top 5 after the main event was over.
In Motocross Action’s The Aftermath, we look back and analyze exactly what went down in the second round of Monster Energy Supercross and dive into the details of the race while sharing our favorite photos from the event. MXA’s Brian Converse was at the Houston Supercross to capture all the action.
Photos by Brian Converse
Words by Trevor Nelson
KEN ROCZEN LOSES MAIN EVENT DUE TO LAPPED TRAFFIC
Ken Roczen led the majority of the race up until the final lap.
As the main event took off, both Cooper Webb and Ken Roczen got fantastic starts and would race each other for a handful of laps before Ken made the move on Cooper taking over the lead. After successfully making the pass on Cooper in the main event, Ken held the lead position for the majority of the race with Cooper Webb hot on his tail. In the final lap,s Cooper began to put the pressure on the 94 of Ken Roczen , but unbeknowst to Ken, Cooper was the least of Ken’s worries. With the two being substantially faster than the rest of the field, they had run into the rear end of the field. Ken and Cooper had to navigate the lappers on the beat-up Houston track. As the laps wore down, Dean Wilson would be one of the many to have the screaming red Honda on his rear fender. Whether it was not seeing the blue flag, thinking it was someone else trying to pass him or simply not paying attention, Dean Wilson was not budging out of the way as Ken closed in. Ken, in fact, made contact with the Husqvarna rider on the rollers before one of the rhythm sections and the number 15 still held onto the race line blocking Ken Roczen in the following turn. This gave Cooper Webb the chance to slide by and block the former race leader. Cooper Webb would go on to see the checkers in the first place position while Ken Roczen would get second with only a few turns left in the Main Event. Both Cooper and Ken shared their thoughts on the podium about Dean Wilson getting in the way for the two leaders, and Dean took to social media shortly afterward to make an apology:
“I never knew it was the leaders behind me. Kenny I’m sorry and sincerely apologize. I ruined your race and wish I could take it back. I know the fans are pissed and team which I would be too. I hate that I was that guy in the way and ruined a win and a race. I should have been more aware of who was behind me I just got locked in on the guys ahead. you guys can tear me apart in the comments do what you gotta do. But I can’t apologize enough for pretty much being the idiot of the race. Once again I’m sorry. Sucks to be that guy… -Dean”
Ken Roczen took to Instagram the next day to the clear the air between the two riders: “I don’t really know what to say. Just another bad situation!? I don’t know. Should have been my win. I m sure everyone saw what was going on but after being stuck behind Dean for too long I ended up hitting his back wheel over the wall and almost crashed and then almost jumped into the back of him on the last lap and just like that I slipped into second. Lots of valuable points again that got taken. Anyway, Dean Wilson and I are cool. Not going to hold grudges and get over it. We have lots of racing ahead of us. Seems like i never pick the easy route anyway. Where is the fun in that. I am just happy to be racing with and for my family. Life is better that way”
We admire Dean Wilson making an apology and owning the mistake that was made and Ken Roczen’s sportsmanship towards Cooper Webb after losing to him. The 450 class is absolutely packed this year with the fastest 450 riders in the world and we have already seen many surprises this season. It is no surprise really that anything can happen now and if the premier riders can stay healthy throughout the season, anyone can take the win in these Main Events.
AUSTIN FORKNER OUT FOR HOUSTON 3
One of the riders who planned to “get it done” this year in the 250 class was Austin Forkner. During qualifying, we noticed Austin Forkner was taking a different line than most of the other 250 riders. This would not turn out to work in his favor as the #38 would just barely come up short and go over the bars into the Houston dirt. Unfortunately for the Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider, this would mean he would have to hold out for the rest of the night as he took a trip to the hospital for further examination of his injury. It is unclear if he will be sitting out for the season or not as we wait for the press release from Kawasaki but we hope to see the experienced 250 rider get some more seat time this season.
R.J. HAMPSHIRE OUT FOR HOUSTON 3
RJ Hampshire would, unfortunately, sit out for the remainder of the day in Houston after having a nasty crash in the practice session.
Another rider who would sit out the third round of the Monster Energy Supercross series would be RJ Hampshire. After having an unlucky crash in the 250 practice session, RJ would sit out for both qualifying sessions. Like Austin, RJ was one of the top riders in the 250 class often battling with Christian Craig, Austin Forkner, and Colt Nichols. Austin and RJ. were plagued with crashes from the beginning of the season and with the two sitting out for Houston 3, we can only hope that they make a return for Indianapolis. Otherwise, the top 5 in the 250 class may be easy to predict as we see familiar faces make the podium every round.
ADAM CIANCIARULO QUIETLY GETS THIRD IN 450 MAIN EVENT
Adam and his mechanic celebrating after a third place night.
We’ve said it before but the number 9 of Adam Cianciarulo is not one you should sleep on for your fantasy Supercross picks. Adam has been consistently qualifying well and currently sits sixth in the championship points— tied with Dylan Ferrandis, Justin Brayton and Malcolm Stewart. It has been said a million times that anyone in the top 20 in the 450 class has the potential to win a race, but we think that Adam Cianciarulo may be one of the more underrated out of the bunch with only having a year in the 450 division. With all the attention diverging to Ken Roczen, Cooper Webb and Dean Wilson, many did not realize that the third place spot in the race was taken by Adam Cianciarulo.
In the 450 class, starts are everything with the field being so stacked. It is easier to place well in a race if you start out front because the rest of the 450 roster is so difficult to pass. Adam and a few others have been known for getting great starts and with that skill, comes a lot of success when the gate drops. If Adam can get through the race without any major hiccups, then we expect him to perform exceedingly well.
TEAMMATES CHASE THE CHAMPIONSHIP
Star Yamaha may take the title for the 250 East Coast class, but which rider will?
Star Yamaha Racing has always shown that when it comes to the 250 class, they don’t mess around. Known for their unique practice drills in Southern California, Star Yamaha has their riders run scrimmages against each other to get ready for when the season started. We’ve seen clips of the Yamaha riders battle each other on the practice track and now that the season started, we’re seeing it again under the lights.
Both Colt Nichols and Christian Craig walked out of NRG Stadium with a tie for the red plate and we expect the two to go back and forth throughout the season. The two got a fantastic start when it came to the main event and Christian Craig would lead the majority of the race with Colt Nichols taking shots at the #29. After swapping spots a handful of times, Colt Nichols would become victorious at the checkers. With three of the nine rounds under wraps for the 250 East Coast Championship, who do you think will outperform the other heading into Indianapolis?
The Star Yamaha teammate rivalry is going to be one of the most fun rivalries to watch this season.
450 SUPERCROSS CLASS:
Cooper Webb made the pass on the leader after Ken Roczen got stuck behind Dean Wilson during the final laps. That bad luck for Roczen would lead Cooper Webb to the top of the podium at the end of the night. Cooper even stated on the podium that he may not have won the race had it not been for Dean Wilson, but, with racing, anything can happen. Cooper has also shown us incredible speed as Ken Roczen would pull ahead in the race multiple times and the number 2 would catch right back up. Cooper Webb has been known for performing well when it comes to the end of the race and it showed in Houston 3.
Ken Roczen may have been robbed of his first place but he still walked out of NRG Stadium with the red plate in hand. Ken’s performance this year has been nothing short of remarkable as he’s proven to be the one to beat. As long as Ken stays healthy, gets a good start, we can expect the #94 to be on the podium every weekend.
Adam Cianciarulo finished in third place by the end of the night. Adam got a great start in the main event and would hold onto his position throughout the entire race.
Justin Barcia certainly did not get the start he wanted as he had to charge through a majority of the 450 field. After tipping over in the sand section, Justin sprung back up onto his bike and salvaged a very impressive fourth place. Justin has shown to be a changed man ever since he’s sat on the red seat. He looks more nimble, rides with a lot of precision and his results have backed it up. Now that he no longer has the red plate, he still sits third in points, just one away from Ken Roczen’s lead and is tied with Cooper Webb for second. It is awesome for the GasGas brand to have a rider do so well for their first-ever Supercross season and we expect Justin to keep us his performance as the season goes on.
Eli Tomac got fifth in the night show but it wasn’t without its trials. Eli had gotten a decent start but still had to fight for the position a handful of times between himself and Malcolm Stewart.
Malcolm Stewart has been very consistent with his top 10 finishes. He’s shown to be strong at holding his position in the races but just hasn’t gotten a good start yet. We expect the #27 of Malcolm Stewart to be a strong contender for a top five soon once he gets more comfortable on the bike.
Another Star Yamaha rider that has been making top 10s is Aaron Plessinger. At the beginning of the season, Aaron exclaimed that he is not the same Aaron as he was last year. He said that he feels like the “2018 Aaron Plessinger” and the results have shown recently that he has made a significant improvement in his racecraft. Whether it is the bike being built by Star Yamaha or Aaron having a different approach on life, we’re glad to see the former GNCC rider performing well with the other top dogs. Aaron got an eighth place finish in the main event.
250 SUPERCROSS CLASS:
After taking a season of racing off in 2020, Colt Nichols looks better than ever on his Star Racing YZ250. The rider has made a significant comeback after dealing with an injury in the 2020 Supercross season and is now in the points chase against his teammate Christian Craig for the championship.
Christian Craig has grown tired of the critics and started the rounds in Houston extremely strong. He is the first one to get out on the track during practice and qualifying, Christian wants to prove the doubters wrong. We expect him and his teammate to continue battling for the championship and it may be one of the more exciting “friendly” rivalries we’ve seen in a while. Now, all that depends on whether or not this rivalry stays friendly for the two teammates because when the gate drops, it’s anyone’s race.
Jett Lawrence easily won his heat race with very little competition other than Michael Mosiman who got second. This competition between the two would spark again in the Main Event as Jett would ram into the side of the GasGas rider. Jett claimed Michael was being difficult to pass so what better solution than aiming the front tire into your opponent’s radiator. Jett got a warning from the AMA officials after the race, which he claimed was a “slap on the wrist” and we hope that the young 17 -year-old will make cleaner passes as he has shown he has the speed and skill to. Jett ended the night in third place.
This year has been great for Jo Shimoda. Jo may not be winning any Main Events quite yet but the development we have seen from the number 30 bike has been remarkable considering the little amount of time spent on his new Pro Circuit Kawasaki ride. Jo ended the night in fourth place.
The #42 of Michael Mosiman had very strong results heading into the night show. A very good qualifying time, as well as a second place in the heat race, showed that things were looking up for the GasGas rider. After getting an excellent start in the main event and racing most of the main in third place. Michael only had a few laps left to go to secure as podium position. But Jett Lawrence rammed Michael and the GasGas rider went down. Michael finished the night in fifth place.
Max Vohland has been developing his racecraft this season and has had remarkable results for his first year ever racing with the pros. Max finished with a very impressive sixth place in the Main Event.
WORDS FROM THE RIDERS:
Ken Roczen via Press Release: “We had a pretty solid night, winning the heat race and then grabbing a good start in the main event. We put a pass on Cooper [Webb] and I was leading the way until the last lap, when [Dean] Wilson got in my way and was ahead of me for three quarters of a lap. I was yelling and screaming. He said he didn’t hear me, but obviously there were blue flags around. I hit the back of his wheel and almost went down–a lot of madness going on. I passed him, but at that point that was the end of the race. We came in second place, even though we should’ve had the win. A lot of positives to take away here though, with the red plate and a second-place finish. It’s not ideal but I’m looking forward to Indy.”
Cooper Webb via Press Release: “It was a close race the whole time and Kenny [Roczen] rode a solid race with not many mistakes. The track was really tricky, easy to over-ride and get impatient. The lappers there at the end was a bummer, I felt like we were going to have a really good battle, and obviously we did, but the lappers were really tough tonight. I hung in there and I pounced on that last lap and made it happen. I’ve really got to give it up to my team, they’re amazing.”
Colt Nichols via Press Release: “It felt just like another day at the Yamaha test track out in California with me and Christian just kind of trading laps. I got a good start. I’ve been struggling with my starts all day, so I’m glad we turned that around. I really just tried to be patient. I knew where he was a little faster, so I tried to pick up on a few lines. It felt great to finally get a win. It has been a while so I’m going to soak it in. It’s awesome to have the red plate, me and Christian will be sharing it so that is cool for the team. I’m looking forward to Indy and ready to keep the momentum rolling.”
Christian Craig via Press Release: “Houston 3 went pretty well. I qualified fastest again which was great. In the Heat, I don’t know how but I was in third gear so I had a terrible start. I worked my way up from almost last to win it. In the Main, I led most of the laps but Colt was right on me the whole time. He ended up getting me with a few laps to go. I was bummed but nothing I can do now but learn from my mistakes and keep trying to get better.”
Michael Mosiman via Press Release: “I was just a little bit off all day but I brought it together for the night show. In the heat race I was really frustrated; I feel like Jett kind of walked away from me. I made a couple little mistakes, but I think I had the speed. In the Main Event, I made some adjustments, got a better start and then there was chaos. I was in third and things were looking good, I got into some lapped traffic and Jett caught up to me and absolutely plowed me. There is blood in the water and it’s going to be an exciting season.”
Justin Barcia via Press Release: “I felt good going into the Main Event. The track was pretty rough and beat up and I came off the line a little bit late and didn’t get the best of start but I worked my way up to fourth. I was behind third and made a mistake in the sand and went down. All-in-all, I should have been on the podium but we’ll regroup and be ready for Indy. We are in a good spot, the bike feels great, I’m feeling good and the speed is definitely there, I just need to keep it on two wheels, keep nailing the starts and put myself in a good position to be in the fight.”
Jett Lawrence via Press Release: “The day wasn’t bad. I qualified strong; I was a little sore after my crash in the last qualifying session, but I felt okay in the heat race and knew I had to improve in the main event. Unfortunately, I messed up the start and had to make my way through the pack, and by the time I got into third the leaders were gone. I’m happy to salvage a podium, but we’re much better than that. I’m looking forward to Indy, to get back on top and start chipping away at these six points.”
Jo Shimoda via Press Release: “My main event start was better than the first two rounds, but I should have made a few better decisions on the first two corners because it cost me a few spots,” said Shimoda. “I did feel much better this race from the start, but I couldn’t get comfortable in the whoops and it was causing a little arm pump. It takes a lot of energy out of you so that will be something I need to fix for the next race.”
Dean Wilson via Press Release: “I didn’t get a great start, I really pushed the first corner trying to be up there but everyone is so good at starts. I was outside top-15 and came back to 11th, which is not really what we want but we’ll keep pushing to be better.”
Max Vohland via Press Release: “Tonight was great! The heat race was awesome, I got off to a really good start and was able to get out front early and lead a majority of the laps. I felt really comfortable riding up front. In the main, I got off to another good start and I got into third early and was hanging onto those guys but I got into a run-in with another guy and ended up breaking a spring in my shifter. I couldn’t shift and I let that get to me a little bit but I was still able to come back and get sixth so overall it was an awesome night. I learned a lot and I’m looking forward going into Indy.”
Jason Anderson via Press Release: “I ended up getting a top-10 and I feel like I’m coming around, just going to try to keep getting better from here.”
Malcolm Stewart via Press Release: “I guess I’d say H3 was not bad, actually. Throughout the day, we didn’t have the best qualifying, but the lap times were right there with the top guys. For us, it was more about riding smart and picking the right lines. I struggled a little bit in practice, but then in the Heat, I actually rode really well. I just tried to keep that same mentality going into the Main Event. I had Eli (Tomac) right there, but made a few mistakes. We ended up sixth and AP (Aaron Plessinger) was right behind me. So hats off to him. He rode excellent. I feel like we made a lot of improvements with the bike and are getting it in the right direction. I’m really excited for Indy. It’s going to be a completely different track, dirt, and everything. I’m really looking forward to that and to see how that goes. But for now, I’m going to go home and watch some football, get a couple of days off, and get ready for the week.”
Aaron Plessinger via Press Release: “I think it was a better day overall than Houston 2. It started out well. I qualified 10th and then in the Heat race, I got an okay start. I got passed by (Jason) Anderson and kind of got stuck there. I didn’t really go forward until the last lap, and then it was too late. The track was really, really sticky going out for the Main. I got a great start in fourth until a few guys got me and I went backward a little bit. The whole race I was feeling good, but towards the middle, I kind of tightened up a little bit. I think I just need to keep charging. Overall, it was a good day and I’m happy with it. We’ll keep moving forward. The next race is Indy, a hometown race for me. We’re going to bring the heat.”