Suzuki’s Ken Roczen Powers to Moto Win and 2nd Overall in SuperMotocross Playoff 2

The SuperMotocross World Championship will be decided this weekend.

Chicagoland Speedway hosted Playoff Round 2 of the inaugural SuperMotocross World Championship in Joliet, Illinois. The hybrid supercross-motocross track stretched across the storied auto raceway. Midday rains brought moisture, which increased bumps, ruts and the overall challenge to the all-new race series that combines Supercross and Motocross racing into one three-round, post-season championship. With podium results in the first two events, Ken Roczen is in position to contend for the title.

Race Highlights

  • Progressive Insurance ECSTAR Suzuki:
    • 450 Class:
      • Ken Roczen topped the field with a second moto victory and a second-place overall result.
  • Twisted Tea Suzuki presented by Progressive Insurance:
    • 450 Class:
      • Freddie Noren was consistent on the changing Chicagoland Speedway track. 
      • Kyle Chisholm gritted past a lingering injury to earn championship points.
  • Toyota of Redlands BarX Suzuki:
    • 250 Class:
      • Dilan Schwartz carded a top-10 moto finish and advanced one spot in the SMX World Championship standings.

After topping morning qualifying with the fastest lap time Roczen and his Suzuki RM-Z450 earned a third-place result in the first moto of the two-moto race format. All eyes were on Roczen in the second moto after he started charging forward immediately after a fifth-place start. Two minutes into the 20-minute plus one-lap race, Roczen held second and was pressuring the leader. The two frontrunners separated from the pack as Roczen mounted several challenges for the lead throughout the moto. With less than two minutes left on the race clock, Roczen closed in and was searching for a way into the lead. In a controversial moment, the moto leader relinquished the lead, and Roczen pulled away for the moto win and a second-place overall finish. The night’s points moved Roczen up two positions in the championship standings, into third place and just 10 points out of the lead. With a nine-point swing given to the Final winner, Roczen has a reasonable shot at another championship aboard his Suzuki RM-Z450. 

“We were on the board pretty much all day: the practices, the qualifying sessions and then obviously in both motos,” said Roczen. “We made several little suspension adjustments throughout the event. The settings we had going into the first moto didn’t quite hit the nail on the head for the Chicagoland track. I went as fast as I could for what the setup allowed me to do in the first one. I ended up third there. I was pretty happy with my riding, but I couldn’t move any further forward after a so-so start. For the second moto, we went to a suspension setting that I’d already ridden in qualifying two, made some slight adjustments on the sighting lap, and that actually did hit the nail on the head for the right settings for this track. I was able to ride to my full potential. So in the motos, I finished third, then I finished first. But at that point, I was in the second [overall] position already. I went for it, just riding super hard the whole main. I was really hungry to try and pass into first place. I ended up earning second overall. The team and I are super pleased with the effort and the riding. It was an exceptionally good weekend for all of us. I’m looking forward to next weekend and the SMX Final.” 

Dilan Schwartz took advantage of the event’s double points payout to move his Suzuki RM-Z250 up one position in the championship standings. After qualifying eighth overall, Schwartz gained race pace through the night, moving up two positions in his final outing on the hybrid track to take home a top-10 result in Moto 2.

“It was definitely an improvement from last weekend. I felt more like myself, and that showed in the second moto,” said Schwartz. “I struggled a little in the first moto, but overall it was a good day, and I’m looking forward to the final round next weekend.”

Freddie Noren had a solid day aboard his Twisted Tea Suzuki RM-Z450. Light rain mid-day added to the challenge, but Noren kept his composure and speed through both 450 Class motos.

“I felt like I rode well all day, but I just wasn’t getting off the gate like I needed to,” admitted Noren. “Everyone was fast, so it was hard to pass. I did make a couple of passes, and overall I’m happy with my racing, just not content with my overall results. The track was different from the previous weekend, and it took some time to figure out the best settings. The whole crew did a great job today, and I am happy I’m healthy and ready to finish off strong next weekend.”

Kyle Chisholm fought for the double points on the table after a tough week that left him slightly behind in race preparation. Chisholm still had the pace to take home decent points on a more motocross-oriented track rather than the supercross-oriented track. 

“My knee has been bothering me for a while, and I wasn’t able to ride this week at all,” Chisholm said. “I really tried to salvage through the weekend and just do the best I could. It’s frustrating not being able to go out and ride like I know I can. I’m going to try to ride one day this week, then finish up the season with a good race in Los Angeles.”

“It was a strong weekend for us,” said Twisted Tea/H.E.P. Motorsports/Suzuki presented by Progressive Insurance Team Manager Larry Brooks. “Ken Roczen finished first in qualifying to start the day off. The track was really fast and rough. It was probably one of the fastest motocross tracks I’ve ever seen, but it ended up being really good, with a lot of different lines in the corners. There was not a lot of passing opportunity, but you could make a pass happen if you had to. Ken Roczen finished third in the first moto, Freddie Noren finished 14th and Kyle Chisholm finished 19th. Kyle’s been struggling with a sore knee, and it got the better of him this weekend. The second moto was a fantastic race. Ken Roczen came from fifth place on the start and passed for the lead with two laps to go. Freddie Noren finished 14th again, and Kyle Chisholm finished 19th. So Ken Roczen is now in third place, 10 points out of the lead. We have three riders in the top 20 in the championship. Not bad. Ken Roczen has a shot at winning this championship; the Final is this weekend, and we’ll race in the historic LA Coliseum.”

“Excitement was high. We wanted to keep the momentum going from Dilan’s strong performance at round one,” said Toyota of Redlands BarX Suzuki Team Manager Buddy Antunez. “SMX is unique with the hybrid track layouts, and our bike setup had to be softer for round two. In Q1 on Saturday, Dilan put down his best qualifying time for P-8. Everything was working together well. In Moto 1 he made some mistakes and didn’t have the same look as he did all day. We made adjustments to both the rider and bike for the second moto. Right from the start, he was racing the way we knew he could. Dilan was battling with two other riders for the 8th, 9th and 10th-place spots. When the dirt settled, he got 10th. We’re looking to carry this speed to the Los Angeles race.”

The inaugural SuperMotocross World Championship Final takes place inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum this Saturday. The sport’s first postseason will pay triple the points at the Final, so there are huge potential gains on the table for 2023’s last major U.S. race. The Suzuki riders and team members are putting in their final pushes to prepare for another hybrid supercross-motocross track. Roczen sits with a clear path to earning this first SMX World Championship while also leading the points in the World Supercross Championship, where he defends his title in that international series. 

In a bit of “off track” team news, Suzuki Motor USA and the Suzuki race teams congratulate Roczen and his wife on the birth of their second child. Rafe Roczen was born on Wednesday, just days before Saturday’s Chicagoland Speedway race. 

For more team news please visit SuzukiCycles.com/Racing/Motocross and HEPMotorsports.com

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