2013 Singapore Grand Prix Preview

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As the only night race on the calendar, the Singapore Grand Prix is one of Formula One’s glamour events alongside Monaco and Abu Dhabi. The Marina Bay Street Circuit comes alive when the sun goes down, illuminated by thousands of lights in one of the most challenging races on the calendar. As Sebastian Vettel closes in on his fourth world championship, the German driver will be keen on claiming his third straight win in Singapore, but he can be certain that Mercedes and Ferrari will be doing all they can to cut the gap under the starry sky.

Singapore Grand Prix Talking Points

Massa a changed man?

This is the first grand prix since it was confirmed that Felipe Massa would be leaving Ferrari at the end of the season to be replaced by Kimi Raikkonen. Massa has admitted that he feels under less pressure after his future was decided, meaning that we could see the Brazilian driver displaying a renewed vigor and perhaps even some pace harking back to his title charge in 2008.

Mercedes look to deliver on their promise

After a difficult few races, Mercedes have earmarked Singapore as being their chance to return to the front of the pack. Given the fashion of Nico Rosberg’s win at Monaco and Lewis Hamilton’s victory in Hungary, the circuit in Singapore (also high downforce) should suit the W04 car, so expect the Silver Arrows to run strongly under the lights.

First race for new super-soft tires

Since reverting back to the 2012 tire constructions in Hungary, this will be the first race for Pirelli’s super-soft tires. Although the safety aspect is no real concern, this does however pose a fresh challenge to the teams. Force India have been hit hard by the changes made, dropping off the pace and back towards the depths of the midfield. Therefore, the first usage of the softest compound could accentuate these issues, as well as affecting the team’s rivals.

Seb looks to triple up

As mentioned earlier, Sebastian Vettel is chasing a third straight victory in Singapore this weekend. After dominating the race in 2011, he was somewhat fortuitous last season when leader Lewis Hamilton retired due to a gearbox failure. The circuit does suit the partialities of the Red Bull RB9 car, meaning that he will (once again) be fighting at the front. It just appears to be a question of whether or not Mercedes and Ferrari can pose a challenge to the defending world champions.

Right place, right time?

One of the biggest challenges for all personnel involved with the Singapore Grand Prix is adapting to the timings of a night race. Despite being in Singapore, most choose to live on European time, waking up in the middle of the afternoon and not going to bed until dawn. Therefore, it is a challenge for the drivers to adapt quickly and be prepared for the race on Sunday.

Track: Marina Bay Street Circuit
Laps: 61
Corners: 23
Lap Record: Kimi Raikkonen 1:45.59 (2008)
Tire Compounds: Super-soft (Option); Medium (Prime)
2012 Winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2012 Pole Position: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 1:46.362
2012 Fastest Lap: Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) 1:51.033
DRS Zones: Main Straight (T11 to T1); T7 to T8

Friday – Free Practice 1: 06:00am ET
Friday – Free Practice 2: 09:30am ET (LIVE on NBCSN)
Saturday – Free Practice 3: 06:00am ET
Saturday – Qualifying: 09:00am ET (LIVE on NBC Sports Live Extra)
Sunday – Race: 08:00am ET (LIVE on NBCSN)

SuperMotocross: Ken Roczen urgently needed change

Roczen change
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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Change can be frightening, but it is often exhilarating and Ken Roczen, a rider in his ninth season on a 450 bike, it was urgently needed.

Roczen ended the 2022 Supercross season with his worst performance in five years. After finishing outside of the top five in seven of his last eight rounds in the stadium series, well down the points’ standings in ninth, he decided to put that season on hold.

How it ended was in stark contrast to how it began. Roczen’s 2022 season got off to the best possible start. He won the Supercross opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California by more than seven seconds over the 2021 champion Cooper Webb.

That would be his last podium and he scored only one more top-five in the Glendale, Arizona Triple Crown.

MORE: Ken Roczen sweeps top five in Anaheim 2 Triple Crown

Before 2022, Roczen was a regular challenger for the championship despite being plagued by major accidents that required surgery in 2017 and 2018. On his return, he was diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus, which presents with symptoms of heavy fatigue, muscle weakness and loss of appetite and last year he tested positive for COVID-19.

Against those odds, he finished second in the outdoor season in 2019 and third in 2020. In the Supercross series, he finished third in 2020 and second in 2021.

But the abbreviated season of 2022 signaled a need for change for Roczen.

“I needed the change urgently,” Roczen said in last week’s post-race press conference at Angel Stadium. “I did a pretty big change in general.”

Those comments came three races into the 2023 with him sitting among the top three finishers for the first time in 10 Supercross rounds. It was the 57th podium of his career, only six behind 10th-place Ryan Villopoto. It was also the first for Suzuki since 2019 when Chad Reed gave them one in Detroit 63 rounds ago.

Taking time off at the end of the Supercross season had the needed effect. He rejoined SuperMotocross in the outdoor season and immediately stood on the podium at Fox Raceway in Pala, California. Two rounds later, he won at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado. The relief was short lived and he would not stand on the podium again until this year.

Roczen Motocross Round 3
Ken Roczen won Round 3 of the outdoor season in 2022 at Thunder Valley after finished second in Moto 1 and first in Moto 2. Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Winds of Change

Roczen’s offseason was dramatic. Citing differences over his announcement to compete in the World Supercross Championship, he split with Honda HRC and declared himself a free agent. It wasn’t a difficult decision; Roczen was signed only for the Supercross season.

That change had the desired effect. Roczen won the WSX championship in their two-race, pilot season. More importantly, he proved to himself that he could compete for wins.

Late in the offseason, Roczen announced he would also change manufacturers with a move to HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki. He won the 2016 Pro Motocross title for Suzuki with nine wins in 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second. He easily outran the competition with an advantage of 86 points over second-place Eli Tomac.

“I just think change overall made it happen – and these overseas races – it’s really just a snowball,” Roczen said. “You start somewhere and you feel like something works out and I got better and had more fun doing it. Working with the team as well and working on the motorcycle to get better and actually see it paying off. It’s just, it’s just a big boost in general.”

The return to Suzuki at this stage of his career, after nearly a decade of competing on 450 motorcycles, recharged Roczen. He is one of three riders, (along with Cooper Webb and his former Honda teammate Chase Sexton), with a sweep of the top five in the first three rounds of the 2023 Supercross season.

But last week’s podium really drove home how strong he’s been.

“I think we’re all trying to take it all in,” Roczen said. “I wouldn’t say it came out of nowhere really, but before the season starts you think about – or I thought of how my whole last season went – and it’s been a long time since I’ve been on the podium.”

Roczen’s most recent podium prior to Anaheim 2 came at Budds Creek Motocross Park in Mechanicsville, Maryland last August in Round 10 of the outdoor season. His last podium in Supercross was the 2022 season opener that raised expectations so high.

Supercross Round 1 results
Ken Roczen raised expectations with his season opening win at Anaheim but did not stand on the box again in the Supercross series. Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

The change Roczen needed was not just a different team and bike. More importantly, he needed the freedom to set his own schedule and control his training schedule.

“It’s long days, but I’m really into it at the moment,” Roczen said. “Overall, I felt [that] throughout this off season and now my health has been really well, really good, so that helps. It’s needed to get to the top. I’m pretty confident that we’re, we’re doing the right thing – that I’m doing the right thing.

“I’m doing all my training on my own and I’m planning out my entire week. And I feel like I have a really good system going right now with recovery and putting in some hard days. Right now, I don’t really have anybody telling me what to do. I’m the best judge of that.

“It’s really hard to talk about how much work we’ve put in, but we’ve been doing some big changes and riding a lot throughout the week, some really, really late days. And they’re paying off right now; we’re heading in the right direction. We’re all pulling on the same string, and that helps me out big time.”