Main event winners Roczen and Lawrence recall ninth round.
Progressive Ecstar Suzuki’s Ken Roczen earned his first win of the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross Championship at the Indianapolis round in dramatic fashion, as Team Honda HRC’s Hunter Lawrence took his fourth win of the season in 250SX East. Both riders were available to the media following the races for this Debrief feature.
The last few weeks you’ve really been able to find a comfortable spot setup wise. Is that what you needed to get you back to being you and get back here?
Absolutely. As much as I gelled with the bike as soon as I jumped on it, I feel like we had a lot of stuff thrown at us in the beginning of the season, being on so many different set-ups, it was definitely tough. I’ve had some races that I’m not happy with but we never gave up. The team and I have been out at the track until 7:00pm sometimes, especially the week before Tampa, we just weren’t letting off until I felt like we could. Tonight, I’ve dreamed of this for many, many months and it seemed so far away, especially after these last few races, I wasn’t any where near even a podium, so to pull this off on a track like this, I have to let this settle in and I don’t want to let this et to my head or think that this is going to happen every weekend, it’s tough out there. But, tonight, may team and I are definitely going to enjoy this no doubt about it, and we’re just going to keep charging hard and trining hard. It’s tough out there, the top 10, everybody is going so fast that if you don’t have a start it makes it a lot harder, but tonight I did and we were able to make it happen. This race felt long and short at the same time, I was just trying to hit my marks, obviously lappers came into play, this was definitely one of the ruttiest tracks I’ve ever ridden. This was such an accomplishment that I have to let it settle in.
At what point did you start to think, ‘hey I can really win this main event tonight’?
I tried to control what I could and I was just focusing on riding in the moment. First focus was getting the start and we did that, there it was hitting my marks and finding a groove, Chase was on me and getting pretty close but I think he went down unfortunately, so I had a little gap and I just clicked off lap after lap. Obviously the lap time here was shorter and with how soft the track was we did so many laps. I was just clicking off corner after corner and was just focused on what was right there in the moment. We had seven minutes plus one lap to go and on a track like that its’s a long time. But, I was like just keep clicking it off little bit more, little bit more and I just charged all the way to the end, Justin [Barcia] was coming, I got a little bit unlucky with lapper was I was able to just pull out a tiny gap towards there end just to have some safety cushion and I brought it home.
You’ve had some milestone comeback wins. How does this one rank in your career?
At the top. I didn’t win for three years after one of the injuries, which was huge. But, this one, there’s a lot of critics out there and I believed I could win on this bike, but to make it happen is a whole other story, this is unreal, especially after the last few weeks. This ranks at the top, I think for my team too. I’ve been able to do it a few times now, same with RCH, now to do that here, it’s the first win ever for the team, that’s a huge accomplishment.
With those long days at the test track, were there days when you were starting to doubt it or think you might not get here?
I don’t know if doubt is the right word, but we had so many long weeks and long days. Before Tampa I rode until 7:00pm on the Thursday and 5:00pm on Friday and then went and raced on Saturday, but it’s days like that I fell that we have to go through. We didn’t even find anything that special, but you have to go through these long days to check things off the list and it’s hard. I’ve been open the bike since the beginning of December or something like that, it’s not that much time on the bike, sometimes it could take a whole year to figure it out. I feel like just in the last week and half we found something, I’ve just been waiting to show it. My bike feels completely different right now to what it did in the beginning of the season, and it’s just what we’re looking for.
You led 27 laps wire-to-wire. Do you think returning to somewhat of a more normal riding schedule during these last few weeks helped tonight and how taxing was that main event?
For a few weeks there I just neglected doing my motos, I just couldn’t be cutting motos while I was working on the bike, you know? It was one or the other, so having a couple of weeks of normal schedule and having some really strong work, my fitness felt great out there, every race is tough but I was able to charge all the way to the end and I had enough to make it happen. Races like that are much more fun than suffering and dropping off the pace because you have to, so definitely getting on a normal schedule and routine helped me a lot.
When you see Eli [Tomac], Cooper [Webb] and Chase [Sexton] on the podium all those weeks in a row, does it get frustrating from a championship standpoint?
I think it’s hard when you’re not where near the podium to not look at the podium, if that makes sense, but at the same time, you have to just focus on yourself – that’s the best that I can do. For me, personally, I know I can make it happen, it’s just ticking some things off the box. Tonight was just one of the nights, but it’s frustrating not being consistently on the box. When the top guys keep getting starts and you keep finding yourself at the back it’s hard to make it happen, it really is.
Take us through what some of the riders said to you after the race. It looked like half the field stopped to congratulate you.
That was actually super-cool, like riders you wouldn’t think would stop, but they did and most of the top guys. It was a great feeling honestly, I think everybody appreciates when people win, it’s just so hard to do and I think everybody knows that. With me making the move to my team it was always going to be tough and some of them probably thought it wasn’t going to happen, so it was such a rad moment and I was so full of emotion. I’ve never had that before, honestly.
It’s been seven years since the last Suzuki win back in 2016, which was you. You’re third all-time on the Suzuki wins list. How many do you think you have left in you?
Hopefully a few. Like I said, I’m going to try and control whatever I can and good things will happen. That’s pretty much it. I don’t know any stats, but it’s rad to hear those kind of things and we’re going to just keep chugging along and see how many we can put up there.
You’re still early in your Supercross career when you think about the numbers and the tracks and places that you’ve gone to. What was that one like, the way things broke down tonight?
It was wild, my first time racing in Indy, and it was a big eye-opener. I just let it all come to me this morning through the first two sessions, trying to figure out when and how it’s going to break down. I was like ‘okay it’s the second lap and it’s already breaking down’ and it was wild.
Your starts have been on point lately, but they’ve been a struggle in the past. What would you say has helped change that?
Yeah, they’ve been good, we’ve put a lot of work in. Obviously since last year I felt like in outdoors that’s where things weren’t coming together, so yeah, we put a lot of work in and it’s helped out a lot. We worked on some little inconsistencies and stuff with some hard parts, but no, it’s been really good and to see it paying off. After Pala last year, I was so mad because my starts sucked and I did probably 30 starts from then until Nations and continued after – I’d do 20 or 25 starts just to feel locked into that muscle memory and obviously it helped to have Jett to go against, because he’s a good starter, so you don’t create any false habits. Hopefully we can keep clicking off good starts, because it definitely makes for a less stressful night.
You had a close call there with a lapper. How close were you to going down and did you injure your hand in that hit?
A very close call, it was kind of weird because when I stepped on to that tabletop he was far right and kind of just rolling, so I thought he was just going outside, so I committed to the off then he’s hit a hard left and I was like ‘alight here we go, this is going to suck’. Somehow I didn’t go down, my hand blew off and I got like a dead leg from where we made contact, I think I broke his clutch lever, bit of a bummer, but glad it wasn’t anything worse on my side. It was wild.
One of the hardest tracks of the year tonight. You guys lapped into the top 10. Can you take us through navigating a difficult track and lappers?
There’s so much information we have to process out there, just from my point of view, most laps I’m trying to sprint and get a gap, you try to find a rhythm or something and five or six laps in you’re coming up on the back of guys and it’s just throwing a whole different curve ball because you’re already moving around as much as you can to avoid deep ruts and still do all the rhythms and have a good time, then you’ve got guys that are out there as well an d dealing with the same stuff trying to get to the shallowest ruts, it’s pretty wild, they don’t mean to be in your way or anything, but everyone’s just surviving out there.
Next week you can tie Jett with 10 wins. Have you guys spoken about heading into the East/West Showdown and how aggressive you’ll be with each other?
We’ll figure it out when we get to it… I don’t know, we haven’t really spoken about it. Dad doesn’t want us to dick each other up that’s for sure. Sensible, mature boys riding is what he’ll want to see [laughs].