Whitmarsh: Honda deal to yield new era for McLaren

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McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh is excited about the impending revival of the team’s partnership with Honda, believing that it will be the start of a new era for the team.

It was announced earlier this year that Honda would be returning to Formula One in 2015 as an engine supplier for the British team, reviving the McLaren-Honda partnership that dominated the sport in the late 1980s. Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost swept the board for McLaren, claiming every pole position and fifteen out of sixteen race wins in 1988. Although the teammates’ dispute boiled over, McLaren and Honda continued to work together until the end of 1992.

For Whitmarsh, the renewed partnership will give McLaren a great chance of returning to winning ways after a difficult spell, winning just one drivers’ title since the turn of the century.

“There is obviously a massive excitement in the company. I was around when we last raced with Honda and they have a racing culture and a racing spirit,” Whitmarsh explained to ESPN F1.

“That’s exciting and very motivational within the team and we can now look ahead to the next ten years knowing we have got a fantastic budget, resources and a partner to continue winning and being successful in Formula One. It’s a challenge, it always is, but I think it’s an exciting one.”

Honda withdrew from Formula One at the end of 2008 due to spiralling costs, but the return of the Japanese manufacturer will excite many fans of the sport with memories of the Marlboro-liveried McLaren MP4/4 dominating the 1988 season.

The deal will however bring to an end McLaren’s long-standing partnership with Mercedes, who have supplied the British team with engines since 1995.

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.