TUSC: Rolex 24 weekend recap, on-the-ground side

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Some general weekend observations from the scene at Daytona International Speedway, site of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The buzz, of course, was a little different this year with this being the opening round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, new for 2014.

Elsewhere over the weekend, beyond the on-track action

  • There were big crowds… Two really good signs that this felt like a bigger deal: a packed infield, and a packed line to get onto the grid for the grid walk. As I was trying to meander through in advance on Saturday, I hit a crowd wall. A good sign for the speedway, and the series.
  • But a quick trigger on a late yellow… There were a little more than 20 minutes to go, and a full-course caution flew when Alex Job Racing’s No. 22 Porsche 911 GT America went off course at the second hairpin, and resumed. But to me and a number of others, it seemed like that call came rather quickly. Here’s my tweet:
  • …And long delays post-race. Each of Thursday, Friday and Sunday saw a post-session issue come up and in each instance, the word took a while to get out from IMSA communications. Granted, I respect the process and appreciate the process… it just seemed as though the GTD pole flip-flop (Thursday), the GS race winner drop (Friday) and GTD race winner swap (Sunday) all took a long time to get officially sorted. Ideally, IMSA learns from this weekend and can expedite the process going forward.
  • …And a high volume of commercials. Ads are good. Ads help pay the bills. Too many ads, however, don’t help attract new viewers. The choppy nature of the ads – which were frequent – all too often interrupted the flow of the race, particularly as the four class battles reached their climax.
  • Some GRAND-AM media carryover. On the ground, it felt as though there was a unified front, with a clear message that this was IMSA and the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. But with regards to the TV and radio coverage, the GRAND-AM-esque style of coverage seemed overly prominent; the headlining P class, and the Daytona Prototypes in particular, got way too much air time. PC, GTLM and GTD are classes too, and many times, like they did Sunday, they’ll have great racing.
  • A challenging MRN radio broadcast. I’ll use the word “challenging” here rather than some of the more negative words I’ve seen and heard over the last 72 hours, because I know from experience that covering sports car racing presents a complex, distinct and serious challenge. That’s why so few organizations can do it well. The challenge for MRN in future races is to better adapt to the flow of sports car racing and tell the stories beyond the obvious, NASCAR-centric type of nuggets. It’s what we have for now, and there’s plenty of room for growth.

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.