Hulkenberg ruled out as Raikkonen substitute

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Lotus will not be able to call on the services of Nico Hulkenberg as they search for a short-notice replacement for Kimi Raikkonen.

Raikkonen will not start the final two races of the season as he is having surgery on a back injury. Hulkenberg has been tipped to join the team next year as Raikkonen’s replacement but Sauber have said he will not be released to drive the final rounds for their rivals this year.

“Nico is driving for us for the last two races. Full stop,” a Sauber spokesperson told The Mirror.

Hulkenberg has particularly strong form at one of the two remaining tracks on the calendar. He took his first pole position in his debut season at Interlagos in 2010. Last year he led more laps than any driver during the race but finished fifth after a drive-through penalty.

Spanish media reports have also indicated the team’s third driver Davide Valsecchi will not get the drive. Valsecchi, the reigning GP2 champion, has tested for Lotus twice this year already, including when Raikkonen was taken in during pre-season testing in Spain.

With track activity for this weekend’s United States Grand Prix due to begin in 48 hours, Lotus are expected to an announcement soon.

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.