Mazda Road to Indy Cooper Tires Winterfest gets going this week

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The North American open-wheel race season gets going this week, with the three Mazda Road to Indy championships participating in the Cooper Tires Winterfest two-track event.

The Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 championships will be at NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21-22, before shifting to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. next Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 25-26.

For Indy Lights, it’s four days of preseason testing. Meanwhile the other two series will participate in races. Pro Mazda will have four races, with two apiece at each track, and USF2000 will have six races, with two triple headers.

USF2000 and Pro Mazda each will start out with a practice session and a qualifying session on Day 1, followed by one race later in the afternoon. Day 2 at each track will comprise two practice sessions and one race for Pro Mazda and one practice plus two additional races for USF2000.

Live timing will be available on respective series websites: www.indylights.comwww.promazdachampionship.com and www.usf2000.com.

Some quick news and notes on the entry lists, which are slightly different from those at the Chris Griffis Memorial test this winter:

INDY LIGHTS

  • Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has four cars entered, with series veteran Juan Pablo Garcia joining in one of the cars. The No. 8, currently listed as a TBA, has had ex-GP2 driver Luiz Razia testing this winter.
  • Andretti Autosport has the other TBA of the 12 cars, with its third car not listing anyone. Italian Vittorio Ghirelli tested in that car earlier this winter.

PRO MAZDA

  • Team Pelfrey adds a third car for Brandon Newey, a USF2000 competitor in 2013 and son of Bryan Herta Autosport team co-owner Steve Newey.

USF2000

  • Danilo Estrela, formerly of Belardi Auto Racing, makes his official debut with Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, as second driver alongside Jake Eidson at the three-time defending championship-winning team.
  • Afterburner Autosport’s fourth car is the only “TBA” listed of the 20 cars entered.

ENTRY LISTS

INDY LIGHTS (12)
Team Moore Racing: 2 Zack Meyer (CAN)
Belardi Auto Racing: 4 Alexandre Baron (FRA), 5 Gabby Chaves (COL)
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports: 8 TBA, 10 Juan Pablo Garcia (MEX),
42 Jack Harvey (GBR), 77 Juan Piedrahita (COL)
Fan Force United: 24 Scott Anderson (USA)
Andretti Autosport: 26 Zach Veach (USA), 27 TBA,
83 Matthew Brabham (USA)
BHA/Jeffrey Mark Motorsport: 28 Lloyd Read (WAL)

PRO MAZDA (16)
Cape Motorsports w/WTR: 2 Neil Alberico (USA), 3 Scott Hargrove (CAN)
Juncos Racing: 5 Jose Gutierrez (MEX), 6 Julia Ballario (ARG),
7 Spencer Pigot (USA), 18 Kyle Kaiser (USA)
World Speed Motorsports: 13 Bobby Eberle (USA), 16 Michele Bumgarner (PHI)
Andretti Autosport: 27 Garett Grist (CAN), 28 Shelby Blackstock (USA)
M1 Racing: 37 Jay Horak (USA)
JDC Motorsports: 54 Michael Johnson (USA), 91 Kyle Connery (USA)
Team Pelfrey: 80 Dalton Kellett (CAN), 81 Pipo Derani (BRZ),
82 Brandon Newey (USA)

USF2000 (20)
Cape Motorsports w/WTR: 2 Jake Eidson (USA), 3 Danilo Estrela (BRZ)
Belardi Auto Racing: 4 Daniel Burkett (CAN), 14 Florian Latorre (FRA),
41 Nico Jamin (FRA), 44 Michael Epps (GBR)
Team E Racing: 7 R.C. Enerson (USA)
Afterburner Autosport: 11 TBA, 15 Gustavo Myasava (BRZ),
17 Victor Franzoni (BRZ), 18 Jeroen Slaghekke (NED)
M2 Autosport: 13 Juan Carlos Maldonado (COL), 79 Santiago Lozano (COL)
Pabst Racing Services: 23 Will Owen (USA), 77 Austin Cindric (USA)
ArmsUp Motorsports: 24 Peter Portante (USA), 51 Aaron Telitz (USA)
JDC Motorsports: 93 Scott Andrews (AUS), 97 Clark Toppe (USA)
JAY Motorsports: 96 Henrik Furuseth (NOR)

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.