Williams write off Malaysian GP chances

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Despite Pastor Maldonado stating yesterday that Williams were close to finding the solution to the FW35’s problems, the team have failed to make any progress with the car during practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

“We haven’t made the progress we had hoped for today,” explained technical director Mike Coughlan. “We need to look at the data we have from both sessions to maximize the package we have. We will then head straight back to the factory to work on some improvements ahead of Shanghai.”

The decision to write off their chances even before qualifying comes after a woeful performance in practice. In the second session, Maldonado could only finish 16th, whilst teammate Valtteri Bottas finished down in 19th behind the Marussia of Jules Bianchi. Although his technical director has little hope for the rest of the weekend, Maldonado is adamant he will keep pushing.

“We didn’t have the pace today unfortunately. We need to analyse the data tonight to see what we can do.

“We have a lot of work to do but we’ll be pushing hard to see what we can achieve tomorrow.”

Bottas, who finished in 14th place on debut in Australia, also acknowledged the need to improve if he is to vindicate his credentials as the new ‘Flying Finn’.

“We hope to find some improvements, but we know we still have a lot of work to do to close the gap.”

Williams will be disappointed with the FW35 after having a strong season in 2012, as they took their first victory in over seven years. They appear to have made a backward step, but if rain does fall in Malaysia, the British-based team could yet score some points this weekend.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
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ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.