Hamilton: Red Bulls out of reach in qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton has said that he is pleased to have qualified in the top three for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, believing that both Red Bull drivers were out of reach at Suzuka on Saturday.

Hamilton will line up third on the grid after finishing just three-tenths behind pole-sitter Mark Webber with Sebastian Vettel finishing second in qualifying despite suffering from a KERS failure. For Hamilton, the result is the best that he could have wished for given the pace of the Red Bulls.

“I am really happy with P3 on the grid and the team has done a great job this weekend, so thank you to everybody for their hard work,” Hamilton said. “It seems to me that we have a better package here than we’ve had for a while and the car felt awesome to drive. Third place is a strong result from qualifying but the Red Bulls were just out of reach today.”

Hamilton had expressed his concerns about tire management on Friday in Japan, with the problem persisting throughout the season for Mercedes. However, the Briton is hoping for a good start to aid the life of his tires.

“Managing the tire degradation will be key tomorrow so hopefully we can get a good start from the clean side of the grid, then see what we can do from there against the guys in front.”

The British driver has won just one race so far this season, but he will be looking to add to his tally as well as picking up his second victory in Japan this weekend.

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.