Le Mans update: Aston Martin crash occurs in first hour

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10 a.m. ET: The 90th Anniversary 24 Hours of Le Mans is underway from the Circuit de la Sarthe, with more than one hour complete.

That said, the majority of the first hour was spent under the safety car for a massive accident at Tertre Rouge for Allen Simonsen, the GTE Am class polesitter, in the No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage.

Reports have been mixed on Simonsen’s condition. An official tweet from the @FIAWEC Twitter account said Simonsen was conscious (that tweet is below). On the SPEED TV broadcast, pit reporter Andrew Marriott said Aston Martin officials were unable to confirm his condition.

No replay was shown of exactly what caused the shunt, but Simonsen’s car contacted the Armco barriers on the exit of the corner and his left door on the car was gone, with the right one still ajar. Tommy Milner, co-driver of the No. 74 Corvette Racing C6.R in GTE Pro, tweeted what he had heard via reports.

We’ll keep you posted as official news develops.

At the front of the field, the pair of Toyota TS030 Hybrids made early charges with Nicolas Lapierre and Anthony Davidson on the trio of Audi R18 e-tron quattros. Audi is expected to pit earlier and more frequently than the Toyotas as the Toyotas have a fuel tank size advantage, but the pace of the Audi is expected to keep it ahead.

Olivier Pla, the polesitter in LMP2, led that class in the No. 24 OAK Racing Morgan Nissan until his first pit stop. Aston Martin’s No. 97 led GTE Pro with Patrick Long leaping to the lead in GTE Am in the No. 77 Dempsey Del Piero Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, the car that also includes Patrick Dempsey behind the wheel.

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.