Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg is optimistic despite failing to qualify on the front row of the grid for tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix, with the wet conditions making a quick lap difficult for the German driver.
Having dominated practice alongside teammate Lewis Hamilton, Rosberg appeared to be embroiled in an inter-team battle for pole position on Saturday. However, a heavy rain shower – so heavy that qualifying had to be delayed – meant that the track was wet on Saturday afternoon, scuppering Rosberg’s hopes of securing his first pole position of the season.
Eventually, he had to settle for third place after putting in a last-gasp lap to push Fernando Alonso out of the top three.
“I didn’t feel very comfortable on the extreme wet tyres at the end of Q3, especially on the brakes, but I was still able to improve enough to claim third from Fernando which was the positive for me,” Rosberg explained. “We’ve definitely improved the way we manage the sessions since Australia, so I was the last car to cross the line, but unfortunately the track didn’t really improve.”
Despite not starting on the front row, Rosberg is hoping for a repeat of his win in Australia two weeks ago which came from third place on the grid.
“It will definitely be a difficult and eventful race as the weather is predicted to be the same again, but that will give me opportunities to gain some positions,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the race and I want to get the best out of it, like we did in Melbourne.”
Pole position went to Rosberg’s teammate, Lewis Hamilton, whilst Sebastian Vettel secured his first front-row start of the season for Red Bull.
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.