May 9th, 2023.

Report: Suzuki Motor USA. Photos by BrownDogWilson Photography.

Progressive Insurance ECSTAR Suzuki's Ken Roczen delivered an outstanding comeback ride at round 16 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross season in Denver, Colorado. The Suzuki star had 51,691 fans in disbelief as he recovered heroically from a first turn crash to achieve a hard-fought podium result at Empower Field at Mile High. At the penultimate round of the 2023 supercross season, Suzuki team riders delivered several season-best results and placed more Suzukis in the premier class main event top ten than any other brand.

Ken Roczen's main event started with him picking up his bike in last place after a tip over in the first turn. Roczen put in a charge that will be talked about for years, slicing through the pack to put his Progressive Insurance ECSTAR Suzuki RM-Z450 on the podium with an unbelievable second-place result. He moved within one point of third place in the championship standings.

"Denver, what a day!" said Roczen after his ride. "I couldn't have been any happier with how my bike was running. The suspension, everything, all the work has really paid off, and we had a crazy main event. Unfortunately, I went down in the first turn, and in the second turn, I got caught up as well. I just had to come through the field. I ended up in second, even gaining on the leader at one point. I think in terms of my riding this is probably the best I've ridden in a long time. I'm very thankful for today. I'm super stoked about the team and how we've handled everything. It's a little bit surreal because it's been a long time since I've had a supercross season like this one, where I'm actually getting better towards the end of the season. I'm genuinely enjoying it and trying to take the momentum into every single weekend. Yeah, I'm stoked with everything."

Shane McElrath started the night in Empower Field at Mile High with a top-five heat race result. At the horsepower-limiting high altitude, McElrath used his Twisted Tea Suzuki RM-Z450's torque to jump into the early lead in the main. He used great pace to deliver a top-five result, finding his career-best 450 class performance in just his first year on the Suzuki team.

"We came to race tonight," declared McElrath. "We had a really strong week this week, kind of going back to the basics. I've been fighting some change a little bit, and this week I trusted in the team, and it was really great. I felt like I raced hard and did my job, and that's something I've been looking to achieve for three years since I went to the 450 class. All day today I felt I was getting better; I never changed suspension or anything all day. I'm really happy with feeling great on the bike, happy with racing hard, and it felt really good to get out and lead for a bit in the main."

Kyle Chisholm backed up last weekend's top-ten finish with another top-ten result in the main event, advancing one more position up the results sheet. He earned enough points to move his Twisted Tea Suzuki RM-Z450 up one spot in the championship standings.

"The bike felt really great all day," said Chisholm. "Everybody struggles here with the altitude. The bikes are down on power for everybody, but the team did a great job getting the bike’s power pretty close to normal. We changed gearing and some other engine changes to make the bike as good as possible, and I was really happy with the changes. The suspension was working great, so great job for the team getting the bike really competitive; it was a great bike for us here today. I ripped a holeshot in the heat race, which was impressive. I led for a little bit until Kenny, my teammate, passed me right at the end of lap one. I ended up fourth in the heat, and it was awesome to be out front for a little bit. I didn't get the start I needed in the main event, but I worked my way up. I struggled a little bit with my breathing, like I typically do here with the altitude, but just rode a very steady race, and ended up eighth, which was good, and that much closer to the top five. Overall for the team, to have three riders in the top ten was awesome. It shows how well the team did in giving us what we needed here this weekend. So overall I'm happy and looking to finish strong in Salt Lake next week."

Robbie Wageman put his BarX Suzuki RM-Z250's precise handling to good use. He used a top-five heat race result for a direct transfer into the main. From there he battled to a top-ten result on the night.

"Overall it was a great day," summarized Wageman. "The track was awesome all day and night, even with the super slick conditions. It was pretty tricky in the main, but we ended up P-10 on the night! I'm looking forward to the last round in Salt Lake City."

Dilan Schwartz used round eight of the 250 West series to advance his BarX Suzuki RM-Z250 two positions up in the championship.

"It was a good night for me, my best result of the season so far. I'm super happy with that." Schwartz added, "My riding has improved, and I've gained a lot of confidence. I made it through every round so far, and that was a big goal at the beginning of the season; I'm super happy with that, super happy with the night, and looking forward to next weekend."

Derek Drake also made a surge in the points, moving his RM-Z250 up two spots in the season standings.

"Denver was good. It was a solid night" said Drake. "I just need better starts to run up front with those guys! The bike and track were good, so I'm looking forward to next weekend."

"The Denver supercross went really well. I'm super proud of my team," said Twisted Tea/H.E.P. Motorsports/Suzuki presented by Progressive Insurance Team Manager Larry Brooks. "All the riders qualified straight out of their heat race, with great starts, and strong finishes. In the 250 main event, Dilan Schwartz rode really well, one of his better finishes of the year. And then in the 450 main event, Shane McElrath got into the lead, led it for a bit, and finished fifth, his best finish ever in the 450 class. Kyle Chisholm had a mid-pack start and finished eighth. And Ken Roczen fell in the first turn and came back to second place. That was an amazing ride. I'm still a little bit in awe at how fast he went, how great all our bikes worked, and how well our riders and team did. We had three Suzukis in the top ten, and that hasn't been achieved in a long time. The team's been working very hard, and I think it is all paying off right now, so I'm super pumped."

Buddy Antunez, Suzuki’s 250 team leader, was equally optimistic: "The BarX Suzuki team was solid at the Denver Supercross," reported BarX Suzuki Team Manager Antunez." Our Suzukis ran great at the mile high city. We went up two teeth on the rear sprocket to cope with the thin air. Robbie and Derek were happy, rode well, and went on to a tenth and 12th result in the main."

The Suzuki racers have one more supercross round, set to take place this Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. After an incredible season of career-best finishes and inspiring performances, the Suzuki racers and teams are excited to finish the Supercross season strong.

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Photos by BrownDogWilson Photography
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