Smedley set to move to Williams after Pujolar exit

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Chief race engineer at Williams Xevi Pujolar is set to leave the team in order to take up a role with Toro Rosso, paving the way for Rob Smedley to leave Ferrari and re-join Felipe Massa next season.

As reported by veteran journalist Adam Cooper today, Pujolar, who joined Williams in 2011, will leave the Oxfordshire-based team in order to take up a role with Toro Rosso. Although Williams has failed to live up to the expectations of many in 2013 by picking up just five points, Pujolar was instrumental in the team’s excellent 2012 campaign when he worked as Pastor Maldonado’s race engineer. He was promoted to the role of chief race engineer this season, but it appears that a move to Toro Rosso is now on the cards.

This will allow Smedley to move to Williams for the 2014 season. The Briton has worked at Ferrari for almost a decade and as Massa’s race engineer since 2006. Together, the pair have built up a close working relationship, with Smedley telling the BBC how he considers Massa to be a “little brother” whom he has nicknamed ‘Phillip’.

Although moving from Ferrari to Williams may seem like an odd move, Smedley would enjoy a bigger role with the British team. He would most probably directly replace Pujolar as chief race engineer, meaning that he would not be working directly with Massa on the team radio as we have seen in previous years. Instead, it is possible that Pastor Maldonado’s engineer, Andrew Murdoch, would be working with Massa as his race engineer. Smedley would also be working with Massa’s teammate in 2014, Valtteri Bottas.

With the arrival of Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari, it was always thought unlikely that Smedley would be able to continue in his current role. Raikkonen is known for his affinity for minimal communication over the radio, something that has sparked many a humorous radio exchange in his time with Lotus.

Smedley has history with Williams, having worked for the team’s touring car operation back in the 1990s.

Cooper also reported today that Sauber’s head of track engineering Tom McCullough would also be switching team, expressing a desire to return to the UK that is thought to be 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.