Will Chinese GP be ‘less aggressive’ on tire use?

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For the first time this season, Pirelli will be rolling out a tire combination of the P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft tires for the Chinese Grand Prix.

“China has often produced some of the best races of the year, where strategy has been at the forefront of the action,” said Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery. “With all our compounds having got softer this year, the degradation is deliberately more extreme leading to increased performance, but history has shown that it never takes too long for the teams and drivers to get on top of the tires.

“Shanghai is less aggressive on the tires than the last round in Malaysia, but we would expect to see the majority of competitors go for three stops — although some may try two.”

Indeed, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg utilized a two-stop strategy last year at Shanghai, in which he started on the soft tires and then ran his middle and closing stints on the mediums. The plan paid off with Rosberg bagging the first victory for a Mercedes Formula One team since the great Juan Manuel Fangio’s triumph at the 1955 Italian Grand Prix (Mercedes would withdraw from the sport after Fangio’s win and not return until the 2010 season).

Above, Pirelli racing manager Mario Isola shows us what to expect from the medium/soft combination at Shanghai. Don’t miss the UBS Chinese Grand Prix live this Sunday at 2:30 a.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network.

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.