Ken Roczen didn't get to be where he is now (a world champion, Motocross of Nations champion and national champion) by just kicking back and settling in for podiums. He's not wired like that and this 450SX winless drought that has stretched to seventeen races over three years must be killing him. Outwardly he's been putting on a good face, saying the right things and, in some way, I'm sure he means everything he says, but he's being paid to win and that's all he's ever known.
Ever since the win that Red Bull KTM's Cooper Webb snatched away from him in Dallas in the last turn, Roczen's not made the podium after making five out of the first seven and holding the red plate twice at that. Granted, he said he was sick in a social-media post after Detroit so there's probably a bit of residue from that the last couple of weeks. He certainly rode very well in Daytona all day long and stalked eventual event winner Eli Tomac in the heat race but, come the main event, there he was laying in the first turn with his teammate Cole Seely. The long road to the front began and I'm sure Roczen wondered, "What else?" as he laid there in the dirt.
Roczen has got a comeback from that devastating arm/elbow injury suffered in 2017 that's already been a success after so many surgeries. He then had to overcome a bad injury to his right hand last season. This year he's had to deal with his brother-in-law and trainer, Blake Savage, suffering a bad crash whilst riding with Kenny. Add to this the wins in Houston last year, the first main at the Anaheim Triple Crown and Dallas this year being taken from him at almost the last second. Everything seems to be working against the German and, trust me, guys like Kenny don't have much go wrong in their lives that often. They have always been able to work harder, ride harder and have that supreme confidence in everything they do.
'94' has had the red plate this year but right now he's fourth in the points and twenty-one down to the wonder boy, Cooper Webb. I would've thought he would've had multiple wins by now and I still think he'll get some here before too long, but what he has got to do is, and I know this is a cliché, but trust the process and know that his program, team and bike is more than capable enough to win races. Try harder and sometimes you just end up confused and forgetting where you started.
I know it's hard to have empathy for someone like Roczen, from the outside he has got it all: Millions of dollars, he races motorcycles for a living and even his dog is awesome. However, in a way, I do feel for #94. I don't really cheer for riders anymore, I cheer for stories and one of the ones I want to talk about is Roczen making it all the way back to the top spot. I haven't talked to him lately, but I would guess right now it's not going well for him.
He's too good and he's gone through too much for this to continue. I hope he wins and wins real soon, as the sport's better with him in it.
Words: Steve Matthes | Lead Image: Honda Racing Corporation