Romain Grosjean closes out first Barcelona test fastest

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Romain Grosjean has made the most of his one and only day behind the wheel of the Lotus E23 Hybrid in Barcelona this week by finishing as the fastest driver.

The Frenchman posted a fastest lap time of 1:24.087 on the super-soft tire to finish ahead of Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg and Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat, completing a hat-trick of P1 finishes for Lotus in Barcelona.

Six red flag periods created a truncated day of running, with the big story being Fernando Alonso’s crash at the end of the morning session.

The Spaniard was airlifted to hospital for precautionary checks, where a CT scan confirmed that he was not severely injured following an off at turn three.

Stoppages for Nico Rosberg, Valtteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz Jr., Felipe Nasr and Nico Hulkenberg meant that their teams had to contend with minor problems and interruptions in their testing programme, whilst Ferrari and McLaren also had trouble with their cars, limiting their running.

Following Alonso’s accident, McLaren opted to end its running in Barcelona and scrap the plans to run Jenson Button in the afternoon. A third problem in four days with the Honda engine meant that the team was limited to just 20 laps in total on Sunday.

Williams opted to focus on its long-run pace on Sunday as Bottas propped up the timesheets, but made a late charge to finish fifth. By getting 128 laps under his belt, the Finn managed to gain plenty of data ahead of the final test in Barcelona next week.

With just four days remaining in pre-season testing after today, many of the teams opted to push their cars a little bit harder in search of the optimum lap time. Seven drivers occupied top spot across the course of the day, but it was Grosjean who ultimately won out with a lap time that was two-tenths of a second faster than Nico Rosberg’s. However, the German did post his P2 lap on the medium tire, whilst Grosjean was on super-softs.

After Pastor Maldonado finished fastest on Thursday and Saturday in Barcelona, Grosjean’s result capped off a good week for Lotus. The British team will be hoping to put the misery of 2014 in the past and head to the first race of the season in Australia with renewed vigor and pace.

The teams will begin the final four-day test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya next Thursday, and most are expected to bring a raft of upgrades that could help to define the pecking order for the new year.

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.