Time ticking for Caterham in battle with Marussia

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As the Formula One world breathes a collective sigh of relief and takes a moment to relax during the summer break, the battle for the drivers’ championship could already be over. Sebastian Vettel currently enjoys a 38 point lead over Kimi Raikkonen, and it wasn’t until this point last season that the German driver began to break into his stride.

However, one war that is guaranteed to rumble on until the end of the season concerns the two smallest teams in Formula One: Caterham and Marussia. Despite both teams being in their fourth season, neither has scored a point and at times entire grands prix can pass by with little more than a blue-flag appearance on the TV for the minnows. In many ways though, 2013 has been a landmark year for both teams, setting the stage for a tight second half of the season at the back of the grid.

In the last three years, the accepted ‘pecking order’ has read “Caterham-Marussia-HRT”, with the third team on that list folding at the end of last season. Therefore, when Marussia began the season by comfortably beating Caterham in the first three races, there was a feeling that something had changed at the back. Led by Ferrari starlet Jules Bianchi, it appeared that Marussia could finally pose a threat to Caterham and seize P10 in the constructors’ championship by the throat.

Nothing in Formula One is ever that simple though. Come Bahrain, the tables had turned in emphatic fashion as Charles Pic not only trounced both Marussias, but he also led home Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez to cap off a remarkable performance. In Spain, Pic finished just one place behind Valtteri Bottas, with the Finn behind the wheel of the car that won the very same grand prix in 2012, marking a total reversal in fortunes for Williams. Since then, the battle has been dominated by Caterham with the team’s performance in Hungary (P14 and P15) seeing the gap to Marussia grow to a season high.

However, without finishing any higher that 13th, it means very little for Caterham. Time is no longer on the side of Leafield-based team with half the season gone and just nine shots at P12 remaining. Undoubtedly, it will be the grands prix with high rates of attrition that will give Caterham the best chance of trumping Marussia – a fact that Marussia proved last season as Timo Glock took advantage of a disrupted Singapore Grand Prix to finish 12th. This appeared to seal P10 for the team last season only for another retirement-heavy race in Brazil to allow Vitaly Petrov to finish P11 for Caterham on-track, overtaking Charles Pic (then of Marussia) late on.

For Caterham, time is slowly running out if the team is to surpass Marussia, but it promises to be one of the most interesting battles in the second half of 2013.

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.