For Ken Roczen, a bigger bike just means a bigger victory margin.
The Red Bull KTM rider moved up from the 250cc class to the heavier and more powerful 450cc motorcycles for the 2014 SuperCross and outdoor nationals seasons, and he dominated Saturday to win the 46th Hangtown Motocross Classic at Prairie City State Vehicular Recreation Arena in Rancho Cordova.
The German won the first moto by eight seconds over Red Bull KTM teammate Ryan Dungey and the second moto by 11 seconds over Dungey.
Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard (third-fourth) finished third overall, Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart (fifth-third) was fourth overall, and Justin Barcia (fourth-fifth) was fifth.
Roczen overtook Dungey in the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships points chase. He leads Dungey 94-89 entering next Saturday’s Thunder Valley National in Lakewood, Colo.
“I always like coming here (to Hangtown),” said Roczen, who won the 250 class last year at Hangtown. “I’ve had a lot of fun out there and have a lot of good memories.”
Roczen finished second in the outdoor nationals point standings a year ago behind Eli Tomac. Both have moved up to the bigger 450cc bikes, but Tomac is nursing a sore shoulder and won’t return until late June at the earliest. Defending 450 outdoor nationals champ Ryan Villopoto is out for the season because of knee surgery.
That left the battle Saturday between Roczen and Dungey, who won at Glen Helen last Saturday. Roczen, who had two second places last week to finish second overall, appeared to have another gear Saturday.
In the second moto, Roczen was content to lay back in third for the first 10 minutes of the 30-minute-plus-two-laps race as Brett Metcalfe and Barcia tangled for the lead. But as they faltered, Roczen pounced. He passed Barcia and seconds later pulled ahead of Metcalfe on a nifty inside move as they came down Hangtown Hill, the highest point on the track.
“I just tried to settle in and look for some good lines,” Roczen said. “I was able to pass (Metcalfe and Barcia) almost the same time, and then the clear track made things a lot easier.”
Dungey also took advantage as Metcalfe and Barcia began to slip. He passed both riders on the sixth lap, and the teammates began to press the advantage.
In the 250cc class, Jeremy Martin of Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha crushed the competition in both motos, as he did last week at Glen Helen. In the first moto Saturday, the 2013 Rookie of the Year beat runner-up Cooper Webb of Star Racing/Yamaha by 19 seconds.
Once Martin earned the holeshot in the second moto, he immediately started to stretch his lead and beat the field by 21 seconds. Webb was second, and Valli Yamaha’s Christophe Pourcel finished third.
“I don’t look at it as I dominated because we were all pushing,” Martin said. “I just went out there to race the track and the track was kicking me around, but I figured it out and got to show Hangtown what I got.”
Rounding out the overall top five in the 250 class were Webb, Pourcel (eighth-third), Justin Hill (fourth-sixth) and Jessy Nelson (seventh-fifth).
Sacramento’s Jesse Janco finished 31st-27th in the 250 motos for 30th overall. Pine Grove’s Tyler Krisman went 40th-29th for 32nd, and Preston Mull of Modesto was 23rd-36th for 36th.
Mark Billingsley covers motor sports for The Bee. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.