The 2021 AMA Supercross series was contended over 17 rounds over January to May. Honda’s factory team, Team Honda HRC, was represented by 450SX class ace rider Ken Roczen and Chase Sexton, newcomer to the 450cc class after leaving the AMA Pro Motocross Championship in 2020, riding the new 2021 model
Roczen Returns, Sexton Misses Rounds due to Injuries
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the 2021 season had more triple-headers (Saturday, Tuesday, the following Saturday at the same venue) than ever. The season kicked-off with a triple-header in Houston.
Roczen was absent from the 2020 AMA Pro MX season due to health issues, and on his first outing since the last round in last year’s Supercross, he made a strong comeback scoring second place. Sexton’s debut in the 450SX class was not so fortunate, as a crash with the rider in front sent him back to 14th place.
After a fifth place in Round 2, Roczen was back on the podium the following round with a second place, giving him the overall points lead. Sexton led the initial stages in Round 2, but crashed and retired on Lap 7, injuring his right shoulder. He was unable to rejoin the competition until Round 9.
Triple Wins in Indianapolis Increases Roczen’s Lead
After taking his first victory of the season in Indianapolis, Roczen went on to win all three in the triple-header, a career-first achievement, taking his championship lead to 16 points. Roczen aimed to make it four out of four in rounds 7 and 8 in Orlando (held on February 13 and 20), but had to settle for second after a fierce battle with KTM’s Cooper Webb. In Round 8 Roczen was off to a nightmarish start, but managed to recover from 12th to 4th, keeping his overall lead intact.
Sexton Back, Team Finishes 1-2 in Round 14
Recovered from injury, Sexton rejoined the championship in Round 9 in Daytona, a round with the richest history. He completed the round in 8th place, while Roczen was 4th.
Rounds 10 through 12 were held at the Arlington triple-header. Roczen lost his championship lead by finishing sixth in the first of three, while Sexton finished fourth, followed by a fifth, and with renewed momentum his first podium by finishing second in Round 13 Atlanta 1. Both riders were off to a good start in Round 14 Atlanta 2, dominating the top two spots. Roczen dominated throughout, winning his first round in eight, while Sexton clinched his second consecutive runner-up finish. This was the first time since 2011 that Honda finished 1-2. In Round 15 Atlanta 3, Roczen took the early lead and dominated with a 12 second gap at one stage, but fell. With a bent handlebar he could not maintain the pace, giving his KTM rival the lead and the win. With only two rounds remaining, Roczen was 16 points behind Webb in the championship standings.
Tough close to the season
Round 16 Salt Lake City 1 took place on April 24 at the Rice-Eccles Stadium on the campus of the University of Utah. After a thrilling start Roczen led, but by mid-race was caught up to, and a fall on Lap 15 sent him back to sixth place. In the season-finale, Roczen took an early lead, and by Lap 6 Sexton was up to second place. Once Sexton overtook his teammate for the lead, Roczen lost pace, crossing the line in tenth. Sexton was looking for his first SX win, but was overtaken in the closing laps, and finished third.
Roczen fought for the championship until the end, finishing the season in second overall, one place better than 2020. Although Sexton missed six rounds due to injury, he completed his 450SX debut season with three podiums, showing promise for his career ahead.
450SX - Point Standings
250SX East - Point Standings
250SX West - Point Standings