Features 13 Feb 2024

Debrief: 2024 Supercross Rd6 Glendale

Main event winners Roczen and Hampshire recall sixth round.

Taking his first Monster Energy Supercross win in almost a year, Ken Roczen dominated the Glendale 450SX main event, leading from wire-to-wire to move to within 15 points of the points lead. In 250SX West, RJ Hampshire earned his second win of 2024 as the western region now heads into a six-week break. Both riders were available to the media following the main events for this Debrief feature.


Image: Octopi Media.

Ken, 22 career wins, 10th all-time in the history of supercross, that’s a lot of wins. This was a great day for you, heat race win and wire-to-wire main event win.

It doesn’t happen that often anymore, so I take these wins so deeply. It’s been pretty much a year [since the last win], so like I said, we’ve been riding really well, we’ve just been not having the best luck getting around the first turn. That’s kind of been my achilles heel. I got off to a super good start in the main and I got off the throttle maybe a little bit early and I was able to sneak around the inside. I was leading and had the clear track that I needed to just ride my own race. It got tricky out there, cause we’ve been riding all day, so it hard pack. But it was really wet and it started getting drier and drier, so there were spots on the track where you had to be careful, obviously long rhythms, so I wasn’t trying to look at the time, I was just ticking off lap after lap.

You’ve had great success here in the past, is there something about the soil of this track or the long rhythms that you really gel with?

That’s a good question because honestly, I felt like a fish out of water all day. To be honest, it just didn’t come as natural to me as in the past few weeks, like in Detroit I just felt pretty comfortable right away and I didn’t here. So I’m honestly a little bit surprised that the night actually went the way it went. My Dad’s track at home in Germany is a lot like this, it was a long time ago but I think some things are just burned into your brain, so maybe that has something to do with it.

You mentioned feeling like a fish out of water all day. You said your results haven’t been what they could’ve been. Do you kind of feel like you just lucked out today, getting the win? Talk us through how the results have been.

I think my biggest problem was, I’ve been getting out of the gate okay, but in the first turn there’s somebody on my inside and I can’t turn, I don’t know. But today, I felt kind of sleepy on the track and not really, it just didn’t come as easy to me. But I also don’t stress about those kinds of things too much, cause I know in the end it comes down [to the main event]. When the night show comes around, I feel like I’m a racer and I’ll figure it out, and we did.

Kenny take us through the importance of getting the heat race win, getting a solid gate pick and being able to set yourself up for this main event. I feel like this year it’s more important than years past.

It’s definitely track-dependent. Here, this was a bit more forgiving than tracks like Detroit. That was super important, super short start, 90-degree first turn. It’s nice to get the first pick and just pick whatever is best. But then there are other races where some of the ruts are actually worse, you know. Nonetheless, winning the heat race was awesome for that, and you go into the main event knowing that you can pick whatever rut you want. It’s definitely nice. Obviously, with how deep the field is, the start is really important. I’m not saying can’t be in the middle of the field or top-five and not win, but when somebody that’s really fast is up front, it’s just really hard to move through the field and catch that person.

In comparison to 2014 Ken Roczen, on race day is there anything that you do or don’t put more importance on now being a veteran of the sport?

The mindset and the comfort for me personally is way different than 10 years ago, that’s for sure, and even from a few years ago. I honestly feel like I’m now more ready than ever to battle for a championship than I’ve ever felt in the past, and that’s a nice feeling to have. So I just value a lot of things that I used to, not stress about, but just less about practice. Every weekend is a bit different, and sometimes you need to force yourself to kind of like, quit being the way you are right now and just focus on the night show. So it just really depends, sometimes I wake up on the wrong side of the bed and then it just makes things a lot harder. I feel like today was honestly one of those days a little bit. I think I just know how to deal better with it, honestly. It’s just an experience thing, I think. I wish I would have that mentality a lot sooner than now, but I’m almost 30.

The results so far have not matched how well you’ve been riding, you might be riding the best we’ve seen you ride in a few years. Is that frustrating? Or have you seen it as a positive with the way you’ve been riding?

Yes, it is a bit frustrating. But some things are a little bit, you make your own luck and things are a little bit out of your control. I’ve left way more frustrated before, where I felt like I was riding like crap and it just sucks ending on a bad note on a race night. But nonetheless, whether I go down in the first turn or not, I know I’ve always left it out there and charged how long I could. And when you feel strong too, you do everything in your power to make the best of the situation, then that anger just leaves me a lot sooner and I chalk it up to, ‘it is what it is,’ and we try again next weekend. I think I’ve just gotten better at putting that aside. But yeah, I agree with you, some of the results haven’t been that great. But I feel like I was riding really well and that’s what I focus on.


Image: Octopi Media.

RJ, congratulations on another win. Take us through your day and through that main event.

I had a big case that kind of set me back the rest of the day, like I was not feeling the greatest. But main event I just focused on putting in a solid ride. I got a decent start and ended up finding myslf in the lead, then I heard the crowd go crazy and the gap was about five or six seconds from there. I was able to manage it, which I’m stoked about, then yeah, a solid end to a tough day.

Those first two or so laps with Jordon [Smith] and Levi [Kitchen] going at it, were you sitting back and seeing what happens? What was your mentality?

I got smoked in the heat race. Dude, I was struggling pretty badly, so I was like, ‘okay, let’s see the changes that we made,’ and where I could trust my bike at. Once I figured that out I knew I could match their speed and just hang right in there and hopefully, it kind of gets given to me, and that’s really what happened. They made some mistakes and then I found myself out in the lead pretty quick.

You’ve had some unforeseen circumstances happen while out front. Have you changed your approach while leading, like maybe slowing down to go fast?

No. I want to win, that’s in my blood. I want to win too bad sometimes and mistakes happen. Luckily tonight I was out front and didn’t have to do anything too crazy.

What are you going to be focusing on in the break?

Hopefully, the team is getting that 450 ready to go. I’m going to spend some time on that. I won’t be racing it, but I want to ride it quite a bit. Maybe I’ll learn something, maybe I’ll help the other guys out. I definitely think I can set a bike up pretty well. I feel like I’m really happy with my bike and where I’m at now, we’re in a great spot.

This is your first season grabbing multiple wins. What does that do for your confidence heading into the break?

It’s massive. I feel like A1 was solid, I was riding really well. I definitely threw some away there in San Diego, but it was really important for the team and me to show up here, get the points back a little bit. So I’ll just enjoy the next six weeks now, it’s nice to head into that break with a win and first time ever that I’ve had two wins a season, which is huge. I’m super happy. We don’t have the red plate, but I’m the closest I’ve ever been.