Ryan Hunter-Reay parlayed his testing pace at Sonoma into the fastest time in Friday’s first official practice session for the IZOD IndyCar Series’ GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (4 p.m. EST, Sunday, NBCSN). The Andretti Autosport driver lapped the 2.3-mile Sonoma Raceway at 1:18.6814 as he seeks his third win of the season, and second on a permanent road course (Barber) this year.
Helio Castroneves (Team Penske) and Dario Franchitti (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) were next up at 1:18.6976 and 1:18.8124, respectively in the 45-minute session. All three went out fairly late in the session before setting their fastest laps. Temperatures increased from 64 (ambient) and 92 (track) degrees Fahrenheit to 67 and 98 by the end of the session.
RHR’s Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti, 2006 Sonoma winner, clocked in fourth ahead of Ryan Briscoe, for Panther Racing.
Of note, JR Hildebrand was ninth in his first official session for Barracuda Racing, James Davison was 19th and Lucas Luhr 25th among the part-time entries.
The second practice session from Sonoma occurs at 5 p.m. EST (2 p.m. PST and local time) later Friday afternoon.
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.