The Matthes Report: Glen Helen

Matthes checks in.

Matthes checks in.

Round two of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series just took place at Glen Helen and, after seeing Kenny Roczen’s win dominance and Alex Martin take his first career 250MX win, I had some simple thoughts about the race and the track. Please check them out below:

– Ok, fine, I guess I’ll have to re-adjust some of my thinking about Ken Roczen. See, it’s a fact he broke up from trainer Aldon Baker at the beginning of last year and it’s a fact that he hasn’t won a title since. We’ve seen him win plenty of races, but he’s gotten injured here and there and just hasn’t been able to make it happen. These four motos to start the year have put me from on the fence about Kenny’s decision to now believing that he decision was the right one for him.

Along with the facts I just wrote above, it’s also a proven fact that Baker’s riders win titles over and over and over and over again. Roczen’s heard all this talk, he’s listened to all the buzz about what a bad decision he made and truthfully, to me anyways, he hasn’t done everything he’s needed to do to make that talk go away.

Ken Roczen has certainly made a statement through the first four motos (Spencer Owens)

Until now that is. His crushing of the first motos this summer (granted it hasn’t been as hot as usual to start the series) shows me that he’s in shape and he’s serious about winning this 450MX title. There are multiple ways to train, but for some reason Baker’s way is the way riders choose and yearn to be a part of. Roczen’s showing early on that he’s fit, fast and ready to go.

– Some samples of riders quotes about the Glen Helen track:

I would just say that they needed to get rid of that big triple jump in the back. You’re going so fast, we were all getting head shake going down the straightaway and then up the face." – Jeremy Martin

I couldn’t believe how rough it was. It was mentally tiring. You just come around and you’re like, another lap? Come on, give me the two lap card. It was tough. It was really, really taxing out there. I’m happy to get out of it healthy" – Cole Seely

The track scared me all day, honestly. But I’m probably not the one to ask about that. I think it’s good because it’s progressive. I think the fans like it. It was a great crowd today. I wish they would rip it a little deeper to slow down the speeds, but if they’re going to build those massive jumps like the triple upstep, you've got to make a wider landing. A little bit of angle on the takeoff makes a big difference when you’re going 100+ feet. So I think they need to be a little more safety-minded if they’re going to build stuff that big. But it’s cool to watch. Scary for me." – Andrew Short

Like many other riders, Jeremy Martin was not a fan of the track this past weekend (Spencer Owens)

Glen Helen’s always tough. With the dirt and the soil here, big jumps aren’t really a good combo for I would say a national, just because it gets so rutted out and edgy that it’s kind of sketchy. Just seeing that video of that guy crashing just makes me melt, dude. That thing’s unnecessary to me. But hopefully the next couple races they mellow some of the jumps out and don’t get too crazy."- Broc Tickle

– “What if a chain breaks or whatever? Anything can happen. It can be mechanical error or rider error, who knows. But it is what it is. Just to get out of here safe. In practice I wanted to ghost ride my bike off one of the catapult jumps they built out there. It was like a quarter of the track was an arenacross track."- Phil Nicoletti

“I’m just being honest here. You could probably pay me to come here and practice and I won’t go. And usually actually for the races they rip it super deep, not today. It was super hard and sketchy and rough and really weird. Usually at least for the races that’s always my go-to where I’m like, okay, it’ll be all right because they rip it really deep. And they didn’t really rip it too deep."- Ken Roczen

Reportedly Ryan Dungey said the track was a little “ridiculous" at the press conference too, and everyone in this list save for Short placed in the top ten! I agree that jumps like the one back triple step-up don’t belong on a motocross track as well as a ridiculous supercross style rhythm section that was sandy. There’s enough at Glen Helen already to make it a spectacular track without the side-show options.

Steve Matthes believes you'll see Trey Canard on a Red Bull KTM in 2017 (Spencer Owens)

Don’t worry everyone reading this from Europe, you’ll see it when you come here for the 2017 Motocross of Nations.

-Bit of silly season news here I broke last week; Honda’s Trey Canard is moving over to Red Bull KTM next year alongside Dungey and Marvin Musquin. Most of us had Canard going green alongside Eli Tomac for next year with Ken Roczen moving over to Honda and the red riders choosing to keep Cole Seely as the second guy, but things have changed. Canard hasn’t had a great 2016 season, but there have been flashes of his usual speed and he’s a solid professional for any team out there. KTM now has three world class riders in the 450MX class and word is they might even have a fourth rider.

– A couple of riders off to slow starts in the nationals in each class are Adam Cianciarulo of the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki team and Auto Trader JGR Yamaha’s Justin Barcia. Adam’s had a ton of injuries and his can’t miss status is also long gone but most of us thought that since he’s been working pretty hard in outdoors for a while that he would come in pretty good right off the bat. Through four motos he’s yet to crack the top ten but, to be fair, he also hasn’t had great starts.

Justin Barcia has a lot of work to do to get back to his former level (Spencer Owens)

In the 450s Barcia won motos against Dungey last year, but he’s yet to get up there and be in the fight. Unlike Cianciarulo though, he’s gotten some good starts but gone backwards afterwards. It’s too early to make a judgment on either rider, but there’s no doubt the riders themselves and their teams thought it would go a bit better than this so far.

Words: Steve Matthes | Image: Spencer Owens

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