Strangely, there have been a lot of rumours surrounding Ken Roczen, in recent weeks. If you look at what Ken has achieved this year, it is clear that his second full season in America has been a successful one. Since the German jumped on a KTM, he has won a lot. So, I was quite surprised to hear rumours that Roczen was unhappy with his current situation.
Recently, various forms of social media have been exploding, as rumours have surfaced that Ken has been in contact with some different teams, despite being contracted to the Red Bull KTM squad. Honestly, I never believed them (the rumours). It seems so bizarre! I mean, there have not been any factors that indicate that he is unhappy with Red Bull KTM. There haven’t been any mechanical issues with his machine recently, and it does not seem like his bike has held him back at all.
However, now, it seems as though there was some truth to the rumours. Recently, the RCH Suzuki squad have been involved in a lot of rumours, including the speculation surrounding Davi Millsaps, which we put the spotlight on earlier in the week. Rumours suggest that Ken had casual talks with the team about next year. I want to see a title contender beneath the RCH Suzuki tent, honestly, as they have been trying to sign one of the elite guys for quite a while now. Anyway, I digress.
Although it now seems that Roczen will not be switching to a different team, most raised their eyebrows when the German pulled out of the Bercy and Genova Supercross events. The unspecified “personal reasons” led most to speculate that change is on the horizon.
However, it now seems as though the “personal reasons” are that he needs time to adjust to his program with Aldon Baker, which is understandable. At the Monster Energy Cup, Ken had an impressive showing, as he came very close to winning the overall. I believe that this might have changed his outlook, a little bit. Perhaps he realised how close to the front he was, with his current setup? The MEC must have boosted his confidence, as that was before he started to work with Aldon Baker. Presumably, Ken will be a much-improved rider after he has spent some time training down in Florida.
Ken has actually just started training with Baker down in Florida, which means that he will have around two months of training with his new program before Anaheim 1. We (MX Vice) have already dissected his decision to work with Aldon Baker, but some more news has now emerged. Aldon Baker will continue to work with Ryan Villopoto and Adam Cianciarulo, as well as Roczen, of course. Interestingly, Baker openly stated that Villopoto is (and always will be) his main priority. So, whether this will affect Ken or not remains to be seen.
Overall, I do believe that Red Bull KTM is the best place for him. The KTM 450f is competitive indoors and out, now – there is no reason to think that Ken won’t be up front when in 2014. It is interesting that Ken elected to go with the 450f, rather than the 350. Although the 350 has got a bad reputation in the USA, Ken has enjoyed some success on it in Monster Energy AMA Supercross. However, he clearly wants to be on a bike that is equal to his competitors, which is probably a smart choice.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of KTM Images/Simon Cudby