Rossi joins 18 F1 drivers on Le Mans grid

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Aspiring American Formula One driver Alexander Rossi (pictured with NBC’s Will Buxton) will join 18 Formula One drivers on the starting grid for the 81st running of the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Rossi will drive a Zytek Z11SN-Nissan run by Greaves Motorsport and backed by the Caterham Formula One team in the LMP2 class. The American driver will drive for Caterham in first practice for the Canadian Grand Prix on Friday before heading to France to prepare for his Le Mans bid. Rossi also races for their team in F1 feeder series GP2.

Several drivers who recently lost their F1 seats will make their first appearances at Le Mans. Kamui Kobayashi, who was dropped by Sauber at the end of 2012, will drive a Ferrari 458 Italia GT car for their AF Corse team.

Lucas di Grassi, who raced for Virgin in 2010 and has tested F1 tyres for Pirelli, will make his Le Mans debut for Audi. The German manufacturer has won the race 11 times in the last 13 years and is bidding for overall honours in the LMP1 category again.

Toyota are likely to provide Audi’s strongest competition and five of their six drivers have F1 experience: Alexander Wurz, Kazuki Nakajima, Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin.

Ex-HRT driver Karun Chandhok will return to Le Mans hoping to improve on the impressive sixth place he scored on his debut last year. He drives an Oreca run by Murphy Prototypes in the LMP2 category.

Chandhok’s former team mate Bruno Senna, who lost his seat at Williams at the end of last year, will make his second appearance at Le Mans. Senna drives for Aston Martin in the GT class.

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.