Onwards and upwards for Gastaldi and Lotus

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Lotus deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi is hopeful that the team can continue its rapid rate of development and score some more points in Monaco next weekend.

The team has fought back after a difficult winter period, with Romain Grosjean scoring its first points of the season at the Spanish Grand Prix last weekend. Although it still marks quite a come-down from the race winning exploits of the Enstone-outfit last season, Gastaldi still has high hopes of getting back to the front.

“Our only targets are to continue the upward curve in performance and reliability and to ensure we are in the best position possible to score points,” he explained in the team’s grand prix preview. “We want to get back to where we were in 2012 and 2013, which is challenging consistently at the front of the field.”

Of course, Monaco is no ordinary F1 weekend, and there has traditionally been a low number of finishers around the city streets. This could aid Lotus’ bid to score some more points, but Gastaldi is also aware of the other side of the sword.

“Monaco is so unique and distinct,” he said. “You really have to be there to understand it. The track is such a challenge for the drivers and the engineers, and the barriers are so close to punish even the slightest mistake.

“I’m not a betting man and I have been to enough Monaco Grands Prix to know that anything can happen there – and it usually does.

“This could bite us or it could help us because overtaking is so difficult.”

Drivers Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado have also both set their sights on some points next weekend at F1’s glamor event. For Grosjean, it marks a year since his lowest point in Formula 1 when his career appeared to be in tatters. Since then, he has transformed himself into a mature racer that has the makings of a grand prix winner.

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.