F1, IndyCar seasons finally premiere in 2015’s version of crazy month of March

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The kickoffs to the new FIA Formula 1 and Verizon IndyCar Series seasons highlight what will be a busy month of March.

With F1’s preseason testing calendar complete, the focus now shifts to Melbourne, where the Albert Park street circuit will play host to the season opener for the 18th time (every year since 1996, except 2006 and 2010, when the opener was held in Bahrain).

The Australian Grand Prix kicks off the 20-race season. While the action occurs Friday, March 13 through Sunday, March 15 down under, the corresponding U.S. times will be late night Thursday through Saturday. We’ll have a full schedule of air times on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra out soon.

Australia kicks off the action, and Malaysia will follow at the end of the month, from March 27-29 in Kuala Lumpur.

That same weekend in March, March 27-29, will also see the Verizon IndyCar Series emerge from its near seven month-long offseason slumber, with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The event will mark the race debut of the manufacturer developed, much ballyhooed aero kits. IndyCar’s first race on NBCSN will be the second race of the season, the new NOLA Motorsports Park event in April.

Prior to that, IndyCar will have a wealth of testing from March 13 through to the 27 once teams begin testing with the aero kits. Spring training at Barber Motorsports Park will be Monday and Tuesday March 16 and 17, with the Honda aero kit to premiere before then.

The open-wheel kickoffs are hardly the only events of note from what is usually one of the busiest racing months out of the year.

Here’s what else you have to look forward to this month:

  • The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the central Florida endurance classic for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, runs March 21. Event info from IMSA.com is linked here.
  • Pirelli World Challenge kicks off its season with a standalone weekend at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas this weekend, March 6-8. Races for all seven classes – GT, GTA, GT Cup, GTS, TC, TCA and TCB – will occur with specific times and listings linked here via World-ChallengeTV.com. PWC also races with the GT, GTA, GT Cup and GTS classes at St. Petersburg at the end of the month, March 27-29.
  • The Mazda Road to Indy kicks off the regular seasons for the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. All three series will hold a doubleheader on the March 27-29 St. Petersburg weekend; the Indy Lights races will see that series’ new Dallara IL15 chassis make its race debut.
  • Indy Lights has another test at Barber Motorsports Park scheduled for this Tuesday, March 3, which is a makeup of a postponed date from last week due to cold weather.
  • FIA Formula E makes its first U.S. race appearance around the streets of Miami on March 14. This race is promoted by Andretti Sports Marketing and features a wide array of driving talent, including a number of FIA World Endurance Championship drivers, ex-Formula 1 and IndyCar stars, and rising talents.
  • The FIA World Endurance Championship has The Prologue test in Paul Ricard at the end of the month, again, March 28-29.
  • Trans-Am kicked off its season Sunday in Sebring. Amy Ruman captured the overall victory, while Rolex 24 at Daytona GT Daytona class winner Cameron Lawrence led the rest of the classes with the TA2 class win.
  • The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series races twice this month. The traditional Gatornationals occur at Gainesville, Fla. March 12-15, with the popular 4-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway March 27-29 in Charlotte.
  • The GP2 Series has its first of two preseason tests March 9-11 at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit. GP3 also has its first of three preseason tests this month, March 18-19 at Estoril in Portugal.
  • The FIA World Rally Championship makes its only appearance in North America this year with the Rally Guanajuato Mexico from March 5-8. Sebastien Ogier has won the opening two rallies of the 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.