F1: FIA confirms procedure for virtual safety car periods

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Following Jules Bianchi’s devastating crash last October in the Japanese Grand Prix, movement began for the use of a “virtual” safety car concept during Formula One events.

The VSC periods were then used on a trial basis during practices for the final three Grand Prix of the 2014 season. Now, the FIA has confirmed an official procedure for how they’ll work in race conditions.

Accordingly, the VSC procedure has been added to the FIA’s Sporting Regulations. Per those Regulations, the VSC will “normally be used when double waved yellow flags are needed on any section of track and competitors or officials may be in danger, but the circumstances are not such as to warrant the use of the safety car itself.”

Once the VSC has been called, all electronic marshal panels will flash those very letters and teams will be notified of the situation over the official messaging system.

Drivers can’t enter the pits unless they are to be changing tires, and must stay above an FIA-mandated minimum time at least once in each marshaling sector of the course.

On that note, the Regulations state that drivers can’t go around “unnecessarily slowly, erratically or in a manner which could be deemed potentially dangerous.” They’ll be sanctioned by race stewards if they fail to stay above the minimum time.

When all’s clear to resume racing again, teams will be given word that the VSC is coming to an end (again, through the messaging system). Then, at any time between 10 to 15 seconds later, the electronic marshal panels will switch to green and drivers will be allowed to race immediately. Those green panels will be extinguished after 30 seconds.

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.