WSX Birmingham: Roczen and McElrath begin title defences with overall wins

roczen wsx rd1 1

A thrilling British Grand Prix kicked off the 2023 World Supercross Championship, with both reigning champions launching their title defences in the best possible way.

Words | Press release

Running the number one plate in the WSX class, Ken Roczen took the overall victory after going one-two-one in the three main events, while Shane McElrath also went one-two-one in the SX2 class. Roczen was joined on the overall podium by Joey Savatgy and Vince Friese, with Max Anstie second and Enzo Lopes third overall on the SX2 rostrum.

The night started perfectly for Roczen on his PMG Suzuki; fastest in warm-up and fastest in qualifying before winning his heat race by a comfortable margin to make it through to Superpole.

After Dean Wilson, Matt Moss, Savatgy, and Friese had set their lap times, Justin Hill, aboard the BUD Racing Kawasaki set Villa Park alight by going nearly a second quicker than anyone else. Roczen followed, but he was unable to go quicker, and Hill took the extra championship point.

A frenetic start to the opening main event saw Friese take an early lead on his MotoConcepts Honda from a flying Thomas Ramette. Hill and Roczen were third and fourth, and eventually made it past Ramette, before Roczen passed Hill and set off after Friese. However, the fans were denied a grandstand finish when Friese went down out of the lead. He still held on to second, with Hill third.

The track wasn’t super technical but it was hard tonight. And my starts weren’t where they needed to be so I gave myself some work and had to make some passes. With the races being so short you had to make a plan on the fly and pass when you could and it got a bit close. But I was strong in the whoops and tried to stay low over the jumps. I had to push hard tonight, and we’ve got some areas where we want to get better.”

Roczen again gave himself work to do off the start in the second main event, while Friese hit the front and pulled away. The reigning champion reeled him in, but was unable to find a way past and took the chequered flag first and second. However, the pair were penalised for jumping through a medical flag, and demoted to third and fourth. As a result, Hill inherited the win, ahead of Rick Ware Racing’s Savatgy.

A battle at the front of the final main of the night saw Roczen, Friese, and Savatgy go bar-to-bar. Unfortunately for Friese he went down, as Roczen pulled away. Savatgy was second, ahead of home hero Wilson. Friese took the chequered flag in 10th.


It was decided on a ‘best of three’ in the SX2 mains, with defending champion and 2022 vice champion Anstie resuming their rivalry from last season, trading main event wins. Sadly for the Brit, Anstie was unable to deliver the overall for the home crowd, taking a brace of seconds on his Firepower Polyflor Honda to McElrath’s double victory aboard his Rick Ware Racing Yamaha.

It’s good to start with a win,”McElrath said. “Rick [Ware – team owner] said he wants to win a championship and he wants me to do that for him. I said this is what I need and he’s made it happen. The Yamaha feels like my bike. I’ve ridden lots of bikes but the Yamaha suits me, it feels good, and it’s good of Rick to trust us as riders to deliver. I’m happy with tonight and it’s a good start to the season.”

Brazilian Lopes showed he’s going to be a force in this year’s championship, finishing third overall for Club MX FXR despite dislocating his shoulder in warm-up. Mixing it at the sharp end of the mains, he was twice third before a crash in the final race cost him another rostrum finish. He managed to salvage fourth – finishing behind Mitchell Oldenburg – to take third overall in the British GP.

More posts from

Onboard Magazine 139

Our Magazine
Onboard Magazine 139
MX Calendar
12 Mar
MXGP of Patagonia
Villa La Angostura
26 Mar
MXGP of Cerdeña
Riola Sardo
10 Apr
MXGP of Switzerland
16 Apr
MXGP of Trentino (ITA)
30 Apr
MXGP of Portugal
07 May
MXGP of Spain
intu Xanadú - Arroyomolinos
21 May
MXGP of France
Villars sous Ecot
04 Jun
MXGP of Latvia
11 Jun
MXGP of Germany
25 Jun
MXGP of Indonesia - Sum
02 Jul
MXGP of Indonesia - Lom
16 Jul
MXGP of Czech Rep.
23 Jul
MXGP of Flanders (Bel)
30 Jul
MXGP of Finland
13 Aug
MXGP of Sweden
20 Aug
MXGP of The Netherlands
03 Sep
MXGP of Turkiye
17 Sep
MXGP of Vietnam
Thanh Hoa
01 Oct
MXGP of Great Britain
Matterley Basin
08 Oct
Monster Energy FIM MXoN
+ Read Posts
On Track Off Road