Manor in “advanced discussion” with drivers over second seat

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Manor Marussia F1 Team is close to confirming its second driver for its comeback at the Australian Grand Prix on March 15, according to team president Graeme Lowdon.

After falling into administration following last year’s Russian Grand Prix, the team has made a remarkable comeback and will now compete in next weekend’s season-opener in Melbourne.

On Thursday, it was confirmed that the Manor car had passed all of the FIA crash tests and the cargo has now set off for Australia, but the identity of its second driver is still unknown.

Manor confirmed last week that British driver Will Stevens would be filling one of the seats for 2015 after making his F1 debut for Caterham in Abu Dhabi last November.

Speaking to Reuters, Lowdon (pictured) said that the team was close to confirming its second driver for the year, with a number of candidates being considered.

“We are in discussion, very detailed and very advanced discussion, with some very quick young guys,” Lowdon said.

“Manor has always had a history of bringing some great driving talent on to the grid and we really want to try and continue that. There are some young, quick guys around.”

Some of the names linked to the Manor drive include ex-Sauber reserve Giedo van der Garde, McLaren junior Stoffel Vandoorne and GP2 race winner Johnny Cecotto Jr.

Despite the timeframe being quite tight, Lowdon explained that Manor would need to find the right kind of driver to fit in with its comeback in 2015.

“What we are looking for is a quick driver and with the right temperament to have the challenges that they are going to have in a small team facing this kind of comeback,” he said.

“It’s not a straightforward decision, but hopefully one we can make very soon.”

The official deadline for Manor naming its second driver is Thursday 12th March ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, when the entry list for the race weekend is released by the FIA.

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.