Dakar: Ales Loprais strikes a blow for MAN; Nikolaev falls out of overall truck lead

0 Comments

With the motorcycle and quad racers taking a rest day, Saturday marked the beginning of a two-day “marathon” stage for the car and truck categories.

But while the car racers went uphill into Bolivia, the truckers embarked on a separate, dune-filled 335-kilometer stage in Chile.

Leading up to Saturday, KAMAZ had scored wins in the last five consecutive stages after Iveco’s Hans Stacey won the opener.

But KAMAZ couldn’t run the streak to six thanks to the efforts of MAN’s Ales Loprais (pictured). The Czech pilot took a five-minute, 39-second victory in Stage 7 over Iveco’s Gerard de Rooy.

However, perhaps an even bigger story on Saturday is the end of KAMAZ driver Eduard Nikolaev’s reign atop the overall truck standings.

Nikolaev had won back-to-back-to-back stages, but on Saturday, he lost more than an hour along the way.

With the stumble, Nikolaev is now fourth on the big board at almost 45 minutes behind new leader Ayrat Mardeev (fifth on Saturday).

Mardeev’s overall lead currently sits at more than 22 minutes over defending Dakar truck champ Andrey Karginov, while Dmitry Sotnikov has leaped slightly ahead of Nikolaev for the third spot.

KAMAZ still has a lock on the front four positions overall, while Loprais leads the MAN camp in fifth at 1 hour, 11 minutes back.

NBCSN’s coverage of the Dakar Rally continues with Stage 7 highlights on Sunday morning at 6 a.m. ET.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
Align Media
0 Comments

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.