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Roczen and Suzuki extract the positives from a brutal Seattle

With 58,261 fans filling the Lumen Field arena for round 11 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross season, the Progressive Insurance ECSTAR Suzuki and BarX Suzuki teams brought their grit to the Pacific Northwest dirt.

Words: Press Release | Lead Image: Suzuki

Race Highlights:

  • Progressive Insurance ECSTAR Suzuki
    • 450 Class
      • Ken Roczen battled for second place for much of the race and carded a sixth, remaining 4th in the championship.
      • Shane McElrath and Kyle Chisholm both qualified for the main event through their heat races.
    • 250 Class
      • Dilan Schwartz thrilled the crowd with a go-for-broke last-turn LCQ pass.
  • BarX Suzuki
    • 250 Class
      • Robbie Wageman finished 11th just outside the top ten.
      • Derek Drake took an LCQ race win into the main event.
      • Brendan Scharer showed promising speed and gained valuable experience in qualifying.

In the Seattle main event, Roczen defended and re-claimed the second-place spot in the main several times through the first half of the 20-minute plus one-lap event. Three-and-a-half-minutes into the race he nearly made the move into the lead. Roczen battled inside the top five until the final quarter of the race where he had to settle for sixth place on the rutted Seattle track.

“Today in Seattle was a tough one. From when I first went out, I struggled on the track, I wasn’t really flowing with it and wasn’t very comfortable,” said Roczen. “So coming down to the night show I had an alright heat race, but I actually had the most fun, and I think I rode the best, in the main; and that’s where it counts. In the beginning, I was able to kind of slice and dice a little bit with the front guys. Another rider and I went back and forth a couple of times for second place. I put up a good fight. Once the track got extremely gnarly, I stopped clearing some of the jumps and that’s where I lost the most time. Overall, I’m pumped that I was able to salvage a sixth place. Of course, we want to be on the box, but we also must take the good with the bad. We’re still fourth in the championship and I’m happy with how the team’s been working and we’re keeping our heads up.”

In the main event, McElrath recovered nicely from a mistimed start. He put in a steady march forward to claim positions, and championship points before the chequered flag flew.

“All day during qualifying I struggled with the track,” McElrath said after the race. “My starts have not been very good. I’d say the first half of the main event was good for me, I was charging pretty well and made some good passes. I’m really excited about how I feel on the bike right now, it’s the best I’ve felt, and I’m excited for a weekend off because the Triple Crown in Glendale is going to be great. My bike is working really well, the team is working really hard – and they have been all season – and I want to reward them.”

In the main event, Kyle Chisholm got pinched off on the start, but twisted the throttle to grab more championship points on the rutted track.

“We didn’t have any rain, which was good. The track was soft and rutty; it was a pretty tough track.” Chisholm then explained, “I never got into a flow, a rhythm, and was never comfortable all day on the track. Just struggled a little bit to put everything together. I just didn’t have it today and need to ride better. Looking forward to the break to have a little time to work on some things, rest up a little bit, heal up, and try to come back to Glendale and be better.”

Robbie Wageman showed strong speed throughout the night and put his Suzuki RM-Z250 into the main event directly from his heat race. In the main, a bad start made things tough, but Wageman was heading toward a top-ten finish when the chequered flag ended the 15-minute plus one-lap race.

“It was awesome to be back at the races under the lights!” exclaimed Wageman. “Overall, I had a great night of racing in Seattle: good qualifying, good heat race, but unfortunately not the start I was looking for in the main event. But I battled my way through the pack to end with a P-11. I’m happy to come away healthy and safe with how brutal the track was!”

BarX Suzuki’s Derek Drake had trouble on lap two of the main event. The Suzuki rider bounced back nicely and made some passes. Drake used the points earned to move his Suzuki RM-Z250 up two spots in the season point standings.

“Seattle was a struggle all day which unfortunately landed me in the LCQ,” said Drake. “But I made the best of it and got the win. Then I got a bad start in the main and managed a 13th. Not the best night, but not the worst. I’m looking forward to Glendale.”

Dilan Schwartz was fast all day, but a poor start in the LCQ provided a tough challenge in the short 5-minute plus one-lap race. Schwartz had the final transfer position in front of him one corner from the chequered flag. Schwartz made a pass attempt that did not work out, but won him fans in the stands for the exciting attempt.

“It was a bummer weekend in Seattle,” reported Schwartz. “I crashed in my heat race and had to race the LCQ. In that race, I crashed again going for a transfer position in the last corner on the last lap. I missed the main event. I’m looking forward to Glendale in two weeks.”

A mid-pack start in the LCQ presented Brandon Scharer’s big challenge of the night. He showed great speed, but came up shy of transferring to the main event.

“The Seattle Supercross was a tough one for me. I put myself in a good position off the start in heat one, but unfortunately had a fall on the first lap. I fought hard to get going but finished 14th. In the LCQ my riding was subpar, to say the least; I struggled with my intensity on the track all day and it showed. I want to give it up to my mechanic and the team for all of the efforts they put in for me here!”

“After you have a victory, it’s hard to settle for anything else,” observed Twisted Tea/H.E.P. Motorsports/Suzuki presented by Progressive Insurance Team Manager Larry Brooks. “The night was not going as well as we wanted. Ken Roczen pulled it together in the main event, got a good start, and finished sixth in the main. We’re tied for fourth place in the points. Shane McElrath and Kyle Chisholm didn’t do as well as I thought they would. They’ll come back to fight another day. Dilan Schwartz didn’t do as well as we wanted him to. He had a crash in the heat race and crashed again in the last chance and that ended his night early.”

“The track was tough in Seattle,” said BarX Suzuki Team Manager Buddy Antunez. “I’m proud of our riders and the whole team. The bikes were on point for the return to racing after the break. We will do some more testing going into Glendale; we’re always trying to get the most for our riders. We can’t wait for the Triple Crown!”

The 17-round Monster Energy AMA Supercross series now takes one weekend off before starting back up inside State Farm Stadium on April 8th for a Triple Crown format event in Glendale, Arizona. The Suzuki teams and racers will be ready to battle for more top finishes and title points on Arizona soil.

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MX Vice | Editor