Ken Roczen Will Not Be Returning to Honda HRCby Jack Gaffney September 15, 2022 0 comments
It felt like Ken Roczen’s days at Honda HRC were numbered for a while now. With the rise of the Lawrence Brothers in the 250 class, and Chase Sexton becoming a bonified superstar this summer, that feeling only grew with time. Now we know that Honda is now heading into a post-Roczen world. On today’s edition of Bubba’s World with James Stewart, the former two-time 450 Motocross Champion announced that Honda will let him hit the open market. Not only that, but Honda had a 2023 Supercross-only deal on the table up until recently.
As seen recently on their socials, Roczen is once again confirmed to be in for the two-round World Supercross Championship. In what had to be deliberate, there was not a hint of Honda in his sitdown hype video. Rather orange lighting and his old MX2 KTM bike in the background. The only shred of Honda was in the form of old practice riding footage. Then earlier today, Roczen posted a picture of a half-torn-down Honda, but not a factory ride. Rather a Firepower Honda ride, as seen by the Showa/Factory Connection suspension. Granted, Roczen was always expected to run WSX with them from the jump.
FC suspension, different pipe, no logos. Sure looks like a non-HRC bike. From his social this week, it sure looks like Kenny is leaving HRC.
Could also just be WSX prep on a privateer bike and I’m making something from nothing. pic.twitter.com/iQevI7siY5
— The Voice of the Drunken People (@Drunken_People) September 15, 2022
Why is all of this important you may ask? There was a rumor awhile back that HRC would pull any offer for 2023 or beyond off the table should Roczen run WSX. Appears that was more than your typical rumor and innuendo. Roczen made it on Bubba’s World that he wanted to go race in Europe and Australia at this stage of his career. More than fair given it’s been just about a decade since he left the MXGP ranks, in addition to never racing in Australia. From HRC’s perspective, Roczen risking injury close to the start of Monster Energy Supercross, riding for another team, is not even remotely in their best interests.
He Said, She Said
Now here is where things get interesting. Michael Lindsay said the following around 7:00 pm EST on Thursday.
“Just got an interesting message from a solid source. Honda didn’t rescind the offer, Ken just turned it down.” – Vital MX “Roczen is a free agent” Thread
Lindsay isn’t just saying that for the sake of it, which opens up a whole new can of worms. Mainly; who is telling the truth here? Roczen going out of his way to lie publically about a contract issue would be a horrendous move. On the other hand, Roczen put up and deleted a picture earlier this week of an HRC test bike with a chain/sprocket failure, which isn’t a great look on his part either. Honda will likely have something to say in the form of a press release soon, so keep an eye on that.
While in contract negotiations with the team, Kenny posts this and puts his team, manufacturer, and mechanic on blast. I FUCKING LOVE IT pic.twitter.com/ImPvW7rMRs
— The Voice of the Drunken People (@Drunken_People) September 12, 2022
Where to Next?
Although the new “league year” doesn’t kick in until next month, just about every factory team has their 2023 lineups set at this juncture. Not particularly great for Roczen, but he shouldn’t have many issues finding a ride, especially if he is strictly looking to go SX only. The only issue he runs into at the moment is his personal sponsorship with Red Bull, which is active until the end of next year via Lindsay. Unless that deal ends early, that leaves just KTM and GasGas as Roczen’s options, neither feeling likely.
Roczen made his issues with Aldon Baker and his training well-known after leaving KTM in 2014. There’s also the issue of him and Cooper Webb not being friends to put it lightly. As for GasGas, hard to say if they expand to a two-rider 450 operation, but the KTM group (KTM, Husqvarna, GasGas) is set up like that in MXGP nearly across the board. Also hard to say if Roczen would be willing to switch from Fox to TLD gear either, but that feels more likely than him going to KTM.
Now, what if Red Bull were to let Roczen free a year early? There is one team of the remaining group that could make sense, Star Yamaha. If you’re wondering if Bobby Reagan would be willing to line up one of the most expensive 450-rider trios in the history of the sport, the answer is probably yes. Worth remembering that Steve Matthes reported that they were going after both Eli Tomac and Jason Anderson a year ago.
Follow Jack Gaffney on Twitter @JackGaffneyTDT
Main Image via Honda HRC