Ken Roczen Wins Monster Energy Supercross Season Opener in Anaheim for Second Straight Season Jessy Nelson Dominates for Inaugural Western Regional 250SX Class Victory
The first race of the 2015 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, took place on Saturday with a fifth consecutive sellout of 45,050 fans at Angel Stadium. The 450SX Class Main Event ultimately proved to be a showcase of dominance for RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s Suzuki’s Ken Roczen, who led every lap en route to his second straight win at the Anaheim opener. Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil KTM’s Jessy Nelson broke through for his first victory in the first Western Regional 250SX Class Main Event of the season.
Smartop Motoconcepts Racing’s Mike Alessi grabbed the early advantage in the 20-lap 450SX Class Main Event by racing to the SupercrossLive.com Holeshot Award with BTO Sports KTM’s Andrew Short and Roczen in tow. Both riders wasted little time in moving past Alessi, with Short holding the top spot briefly before Roczen made what would be the winning pass on the opening lap.
While Roczen pulled away out front, some of his biggest contenders endured misfortune, most notably Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Davi Millsaps and GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac, each of who fell twice in the Main Event. Short’s hold on second was also short lived as rookie Jason Anderson moved into second aboard his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing machine on Lap 2 in his very first 450SX Class start. Eventually Team Honda’s Trey Canard took third away from Short on Lap 9 and the top three remained the same for the final 11 laps.
The win was the third of Roczen’s career, but it signified the first for his Ricky Carmichael and Carey Hart-owned team. It was Roczen’s first start for the squad after moving away from Red Bull KTM in the offseason.
“Everything has been awesome with the team and it’s good to get first win out of the way, both for myself and for them,” said Roczen. “There are a lot of good guys out there so I’ll need to stay consistent [this season]. It’s good to come out of here healthy and we’ll just keep the ball rolling.”
Furthering the theme of the 2015 season of #WhosNext, other championship contenders finished solidly inside the top 10, including Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey in fourth and Autotrader.com/Toyota/Yamaha’s Justin Barcia in sixth. Two time champion Chad Reed finished 10th aboard his Discount Tire Racing/TwoTwo Motorsports machine.
With the win, Roczen holds a three-point lead over Anderson in the early 450SX Class standings, while Canard sits five points behind.
In the Western Regional 250SX Class Main Event earlier in the evening, Nelson captured the SupercrossLive.com Holeshot Award ahead of GEICO Honda’s Matt Bisceglia and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Zach Osborne. The advantage Nelson garnered with the holeshot proved to be all he needed as he went on to lead all 15 laps of the Main Event and secure the first victory of his career in his 16th career start.
“This is a great way to start season and hopefully there’s more to come,” said Nelson, who became the 97th different 250SX Class Main Event winner in history. “It was a great night and I can’t complain. I think the team’s switch to KTM has been huge and I think it’s a big part of this. This [win] is just a big shock.”
Behind Nelson, Osborne asserted himself into second and ultimately maintained the runner-up spot throughout the entirety of the Main Event. The battle for third, however, became a three-rider showdown in the early stages between Motosport.com Kawasaki’s Josh Hansen, Red Bull KTM’s Justin Hill and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Tyler Bowers. Hill was able to make the move past Hansen for the position on Lap 4 and Bowers followed suit a short time later. Hill appeared to have a comfortable margin over Bowers, but the reigning four-time AMSOIL Arenacross Champion closed the gap and eventually made the pass on Lap 10, carrying it through to the finish to claim the final spot on the podium.
Nelson sits three points ahead of Osborne in the Western Regional 250SX Class standings and five points ahead of Bowers.
Monster Energy Supercross continues next weekend with its second stop of the 17-race season from Phoenix. Chase Field will host the world’s best riders on Saturday, January 10.
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