Raikkonen pleased to end podium drought in Bahrain

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Kimi Raikkonen was pleased to end a podium drought that had dated all the way back to the 2013 Korean Grand Prix by finishing second in the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Finn was moved onto an alternative strategy by Ferrari during the race, allowing him to push in the final stint on the soft tire whilst others struggled on the slower medium compound.

Raikkonen moved up into the podium positions when his teammate, Sebastian Vettel, was forced to make an unplanned pit stop due to front wing damage.

He then set about catching Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, finding his way past on the penultimate lap of the race before finishing just 3.3 seconds behind race winner Lewis Hamilton.

Speaking on the podium after the race, Raikkonen said that it was impossible to be wholly satisfied with second place, but given his qualifying result and difficult start to the year, he was pleased with the result.

“Obviously you’re never happy when you finish second, but I think after a difficult start to the year I’m a bit pleased to get some result,” Raikkonen said.

“Obviously we came through in the end very quickly, but we ran out of laps. I think we have to be happy after that and where we qualified.”

Raikkonen has already made his satisfaction with the new regime at Ferrari clear, saying earlier this week that the atmosphere at Maranello was better than any other he had experienced in F1.

The Finn is confident that this can aid Ferrari in its bid to topple Mercedes at the front of the field and get back in the fight for race wins later in the season.

“Yeah I’m very happy how the team is working,” Raikkonen said. “After last year, where we are now is a big step. Everyone is working very well together, and the atmosphere is very good now.

“We have a good direction to keep pushing. It seems to be working well. Things are improving. I’m sure as a team we will get there and be able to be fighting for wins, but it will take a bit more time.”

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.