Provisional grid for the Japanese Grand Prix

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Mark Webber took full advantage of Sebastian Vettel’s KERS failure during the final stage of qualifying yesterday to secure his first pole position of the season, and the Australian will be keen on picking up his maiden win in his swansong year ahead of his retirement at the end of the season. However, with the German driver mathematically able to seal his fourth world title this weekend, will the team ask Webber to move aside should results allow for Vettel to clinch it at Suzuka?

Following qualifying, there have been a few changes at the back of the grid:

  • Jules Bianchi and Charles Pic were both handed a ten place grid penalty for picking up three reprimands across the course of the season.
  • Adrian Sutil received a five place grid penalty after a gearbox change following a crash in FP3 on Friday.
  • Charles Pic has a drive-through penalty for passing a red light during qualifying. He must take the penalty within the first five laps of the race.

Interestingly, as the penalties are applied in the order they are received, Bianchi actually gains one position on the grid despite qualifying last and receiving a ten place penalty.

Provisional grid for the Japanese Grand Prix

1 Mark Webber Red Bull
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
4 Romain Grosjean Lotus
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
7 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber
8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus
10 Jenson Button McLaren
11 Sergio Perez McLaren
12 Paul di Resta Force India
13 Valtteri Bottas Williams
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber
15 Pastor Maldonado Williams
16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso
17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso
18 Max Chilton Marussia
19 Giedo van der Garde Caterham
20 Charles Pic Caterham
21 Jules Bianchi Marussia
22 Adrian Sutil Force India

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.