For the first time since losing her right eye and almost her life in a testing accident last summer, Spanish driver Maria de Villota visited the Formula One paddock at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.
De Villota was anxious to make her return, telling the Associated Press that she couldn’t sleep the night before because she wondered how it would make her feel. Upon going through the paddock, she got to speak with fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s Sergio Perez, but she encountered multiple emotions as well.
“It’s a mix of adrenaline and also a little bit of sadness,” she told the AP’s Jerome Pugmire at the Circuit de Catalunya. “It’s a great weekend but on the other hand it’s also not easy. But I think I’m going to enjoy [the race] on Sunday.”
On July 3, 2012, De Villota suffered extensive head and facial injuries after crashing a Marussia machine into a support truck during straight-line testing at Duxford Aerodrome in England. She underwent multiple surgeries and doctors continue to keep tabs on her progress.
However, even though her F1 career was cut short, De Villota continues to look toward the bright side.
“When you realize you have a second chance in life, you don’t have any other way to live it than with a big smile in your face,” said De Villota, who still considers motorsports as her “escape.”
According to the AP, De Villota is currently focusing on raising funds for the Ana Carolina Diez Mahou Foundation, which serves children stricken with mitochondrial and neuromuscular diseases.
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.