News 16 Sep 2022

'Honda decided to pull the offer that they gave me' - Roczen

World Supercross Championship commitments derail 2023 plans.

Image: Octopi Media.

The immediate future of Ken Roczen is up in the air after he claimed that Team Honda HRC opted to pull back an offer that would have seen him on a Supercross-only deal for the 2023 season, indicating that his commitment to race in the World Supercross Championship (WSX) has derailed plans to continue together.

In an exclusive interview with James Stewart’s Bubba’s World podcast this week, 28-year-old Roczen stated that a lucrative deal for next year was tabled by Honda, only to be removed due to his decision to contest WSX during what is the American off-season.

Roczen was announced to be joining the SX Global-led WSX start-up for this year’s ‘pilot’ season in June prior to his initial offer from HRC, understood to be joining the Honda Genuine Honda Racing team for the international races in Britain and Australia. He also revealed that a scheduled third round in Indonesia isn’t going ahead, reducing the series to just two events.

“This last week, it’s a funky feeling, but I’m a free-agent at this point and I’ve never been in that position,” Roczen said. “A shocker to me, Honda decided to pull the offer that they gave me a couple of weeks ago, which by the way, was a great offer. If I wanted to go after the money then that would have been the smart thing for me to do, but I have committed to [WSX] and I didn’t feel comfortable at all to leave fans hanging… there’s a lot of people overseas that don’t have the money to come over here and watch us race.

“For me to go back over to Europe and Australia, next to having a little bit of a vacation, I wasn’t ready to disappoint the fans and pull out of this World Supercross thing. I decided to stick with it and Honda decided to shockingly just pull the offer. It was one of those things that had me a little bit shocked, but at the same time I’m sticking to my guns because I owe it to the fans and to myself. I was looking forward to this whole thing months and months ago – that’s what I’m going to do.

“They drew the line in the sand and it was plain and simple that they were going to pull the offer back if I decide to do those off-season races. Luckily, I’m in a position where money doesn’t have to make that decision… this is not about a money thing at all. This is an integrity thing, we drew the line in the sand and now we’re here. Right now, the Honda deal was pulled and, again, I’m a free-agent.”

While Roczen is adamant that he’s preparing to contest both Monster Energy Supercross and Lucas Oil Pro Motocross in 2023 and hasn’t ruled out re-signing with Team Honda HRC in the future, he is prepared to sit on the sidelines until an opportunity arises and there are no plans to launch his own program at this point.

“I want to make this very clear, with me doing this, I am not waiting for a fill-in ride or hoping, waiting for somebody to get hurt for me to have a ride,” he continued. “This is not about that at all, but if a team is willing to give me an offer and if they legitimately want me to ride for them, I’m available. I’m super-motived for 2023 Supercross and motocross – I’m going to prepare as if I’m going racing and that won’t change.

“There’s this percentage of a chance that I might not line up for Supercross if nobody comes up. It could be two races, three races, four races in, if a team decides to pick me up and sign me, then I am 100 percent ready for it. I am focused on training and getting ready for racing – we’ll see what the teams have to say, maybe they’ll stand up for me and snatch me up. All I can say is, I’m super-motived about this.”

Two-time 250MX champion Jett Lawrence will step up to the premier class outdoors from next season riding the factory CRF450R in a move that’s still yet to be formally announced, which led to Honda offering Roczen a Supercross-only contract for 2023. Current eastern regional champion Lawrence, meanwhile, is anticipated to ride 250SX for another season next year.

In the case that Roczen and Honda do in fact part ways altogether, it’s uncertain who would partner Chase Sexton in 450SX for the coming season. Prior to Sexton himself transitioning to the 450 outdoors in 2020, HRC brought in Justin Brayton on a Supercross-only contract for a single term before making way for Sexton full-time the following year.