Alonso moves to clear up testing crash conspiracy theories

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Fernando Alonso has moved to clarify the events surrounding his testing accident in Barcelona last month ahead of his return to Formula 1 at this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

The Spanish driver was forced to miss the opening race of the season in Australia two weeks ago as he continued to recover from a heavy crash during winter testing that left him concussed and requiring three days in hospital.

Alonso’s accident was subject to much speculation at the time, with the McLaren team unable to release too many details as its investigation into the crash continued.

This led to reports in some areas of the press that Alonso had been electrocuted, whilst others said that he was unconscious at the wheel of the car and thought he was in 1995 when he came around.

However, the Spaniard has moved to rubbish these reports, and addressed the media during today’s FIA press conference in Sepang.

“Everything was more or less as a normal concussion,” Alonso said. “So, I had this concussion, went to the hospital. I went to the hospital in good conditions.

“There is a time that I don’t remember from two o’clock to six o’clock or something like that, but everything again was normal due to the medication that they give you to go into the helicopter and to do some tests in the hospital.

“Everything was normal. I didn’t wake up in ’95, I didn’t wake up speaking in Italian or all these things that probably they were out there. I remember the accident and I remember everything that following day.”

Alonso then went on to explain that he suspects a problem with his steering column may have caused the crash, with the wheel locked to the right, causing him to crash into the wall.

“Obviously with the team we have been very close working on that and with the FIA, they were very helpful all the times, and we were in close contact, all three parts constantly and yeah, there is not in the data anything clear that we can spot and we can say it was that, the reason,” Alonso said.

“But definitely we had a steering problem in the middle of turn three. It locked into the right and I approached the wall I braked in the last moment, I downshift from fifth to third, and yeah, unfortunately on the data we are still missing some parts.

“Also the acquisition of data on that particular part of the car is not at the top so there are some new sensors here at this race and there are some changes we do on the steering rack and other parts. That was the main thing.”

Alonso also underlined his support for McLaren, saying that he has no concerns about the safety of the car nor his own condition following the incident.

“I fully trust the team,” Alonso said. “They’ve been looking at every single component of the car for a month, they’ve been simulating the efforts, they’ve been doing so many tests, they’ve been changing every single part that they had some doubts about.

“So I think we have the safest car right now, because of all the studies that they’ve done. And after one month, I’m probably the most medically checked driver in history so we should be fine, both of us.”

SuperMotocross: Ken Roczen urgently needed change

Roczen change
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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Change can be frightening, but it is often exhilarating and Ken Roczen, a rider in his ninth season on a 450 bike, it was urgently needed.

Roczen ended the 2022 Supercross season with his worst performance in five years. After finishing outside of the top five in seven of his last eight rounds in the stadium series, well down the points’ standings in ninth, he decided to put that season on hold.

How it ended was in stark contrast to how it began. Roczen’s 2022 season got off to the best possible start. He won the Supercross opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California by more than seven seconds over the 2021 champion Cooper Webb.

That would be his last podium and he scored only one more top-five in the Glendale, Arizona Triple Crown.

MORE: Ken Roczen sweeps top five in Anaheim 2 Triple Crown

Before 2022, Roczen was a regular challenger for the championship despite being plagued by major accidents that required surgery in 2017 and 2018. On his return, he was diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus, which presents with symptoms of heavy fatigue, muscle weakness and loss of appetite and last year he tested positive for COVID-19.

Against those odds, he finished second in the outdoor season in 2019 and third in 2020. In the Supercross series, he finished third in 2020 and second in 2021.

But the abbreviated season of 2022 signaled a need for change for Roczen.

“I needed the change urgently,” Roczen said in last week’s post-race press conference at Angel Stadium. “I did a pretty big change in general.”

Those comments came three races into the 2023 with him sitting among the top three finishers for the first time in 10 Supercross rounds. It was the 57th podium of his career, only six behind 10th-place Ryan Villopoto. It was also the first for Suzuki since 2019 when Chad Reed gave them one in Detroit 63 rounds ago.

Taking time off at the end of the Supercross season had the needed effect. He rejoined SuperMotocross in the outdoor season and immediately stood on the podium at Fox Raceway in Pala, California. Two rounds later, he won at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado. The relief was short lived and he would not stand on the podium again until this year.

Roczen Motocross Round 3
Ken Roczen won Round 3 of the outdoor season in 2022 at Thunder Valley after finished second in Moto 1 and first in Moto 2. Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Winds of Change

Roczen’s offseason was dramatic. Citing differences over his announcement to compete in the World Supercross Championship, he split with Honda HRC and declared himself a free agent. It wasn’t a difficult decision; Roczen was signed only for the Supercross season.

That change had the desired effect. Roczen won the WSX championship in their two-race, pilot season. More importantly, he proved to himself that he could compete for wins.

Late in the offseason, Roczen announced he would also change manufacturers with a move to HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki. He won the 2016 Pro Motocross title for Suzuki with nine wins in 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second. He easily outran the competition with an advantage of 86 points over second-place Eli Tomac.

“I just think change overall made it happen – and these overseas races – it’s really just a snowball,” Roczen said. “You start somewhere and you feel like something works out and I got better and had more fun doing it. Working with the team as well and working on the motorcycle to get better and actually see it paying off. It’s just, it’s just a big boost in general.”

The return to Suzuki at this stage of his career, after nearly a decade of competing on 450 motorcycles, recharged Roczen. He is one of three riders, (along with Cooper Webb and his former Honda teammate Chase Sexton), with a sweep of the top five in the first three rounds of the 2023 Supercross season.

But last week’s podium really drove home how strong he’s been.

“I think we’re all trying to take it all in,” Roczen said. “I wouldn’t say it came out of nowhere really, but before the season starts you think about – or I thought of how my whole last season went – and it’s been a long time since I’ve been on the podium.”

Roczen’s most recent podium prior to Anaheim 2 came at Budds Creek Motocross Park in Mechanicsville, Maryland last August in Round 10 of the outdoor season. His last podium in Supercross was the 2022 season opener that raised expectations so high.

Supercross Round 1 results
Ken Roczen raised expectations with his season opening win at Anaheim but did not stand on the box again in the Supercross series. Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

The change Roczen needed was not just a different team and bike. More importantly, he needed the freedom to set his own schedule and control his training schedule.

“It’s long days, but I’m really into it at the moment,” Roczen said. “Overall, I felt [that] throughout this off season and now my health has been really well, really good, so that helps. It’s needed to get to the top. I’m pretty confident that we’re, we’re doing the right thing – that I’m doing the right thing.

“I’m doing all my training on my own and I’m planning out my entire week. And I feel like I have a really good system going right now with recovery and putting in some hard days. Right now, I don’t really have anybody telling me what to do. I’m the best judge of that.

“It’s really hard to talk about how much work we’ve put in, but we’ve been doing some big changes and riding a lot throughout the week, some really, really late days. And they’re paying off right now; we’re heading in the right direction. We’re all pulling on the same string, and that helps me out big time.”