After finishing quickest in the first practice session on Friday morning in Korea, Lewis Hamilton has continued to dominate proceedings after once again topping the timesheets in second practice at the Korean International Circuit.
However, just as he was in the first session, Hamilton was quickly tailed by two-time Korean GP winner Sebastian Vettel, whilst Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber also put in strong performances in support of their teammates. Eventually, less than two-tenths covered the top four drivers, suggesting that we could be set for a straight fight between Red Bull and Mercedes across the course of the weekend.
Hamilton went fastest at the half-way point in the session, and despite going out for his super-soft run later than the Briton, Vettel could not respond to the pace of the Mercedes W04 car as the team goes in search of its first win since the summer break.
In the final stages of the session, teams elected to undertake high-fuel runs in order to replicate conditions on race day, meaning that the times at the top failed to come under threat. This handed Hamilton – who started the 2011 race on pole position – P1 for the second time in the space of a few hours.
For Ferrari, the session was less fruitful as Felipe Massa led their charge in fifth whilst Fernando Alonso could only come home in seventh, splitting the Lotus pairing of Romain Grosjean (P6) and Kimi Raikkonen (P8). The Finn responded well from a hefty crash in FP1, and his back injury does not appear to be causing him too much grief.
Paul di Resta returned to the wheel of his Force India for second practice after reserve driver James Calado was given track time earlier on in the day. The Scottish driver ran strongly, finishing P11 and just 0.001 seconds behind teammate Adrian Sutil.
Although all of the results from practice must be taken with a pinch of salt, it appears that the advantage that Red Bull enjoyed in Singapore may have shrunk as Mercedes look to bounce back from a disappointing run of results.
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.