Perez enjoys “fantastic day” at top of time sheets

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Force India’s feeling pretty good about their work today at Bahrain International Circuit, and it’s easy to see why.

Sergio Perez was fastest today in the VJM07 with a time of 1:35.290, and was able to crack the 100-lap mark with a total of 105 laps turned on the 3.36-mile course.

“We really needed a good day to start this week and today, we had it,” Perez said. “We managed to do a lot of laps, try several different [tire] compounds and mappings, and it’s been a fantastic day in terms of learning about the car.

“Tomorrow is my last day in the car before the season starts so hopefully we can have another solid day to be in good shape for Melbourne.”

The afternoon was especially impressive for the Mexican and his colleagues, who were able to carry out a full race run.

“The morning was mainly devoted to working on the tires, gathering data about the various compounds at our disposal, in addition to a few performance runs to optimize our set-up,” team technical director Andrew Green said.

“We were satisfied with the results of this work, so in the afternoon we switched to longer runs. We were able to do some good long run simulations, which sets us up nicely for the remainder of the week.”

On Saturday – the final day of the first Bahrain preseason test – Perez had been forced to the garage after just 19 laps due to a drive train issue on the VJM07.

But things appear to be looking up now for the team, which will have Nico Hulkenberg take over for Perez on Saturday and Sunday.

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.