Pirelli to test 18-inch rim tires with GP2 car in Barcelona

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MONTMELO – Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery has confirmed that the Italian tire manufacturer will be testing its prototype 18-inch rim tires in Barcelona next week using a GP2 car.

In a bid to make F1 more road relevant, Pirelli tested an 18-inch tire design at Silverstone last July during an in-season test, and received largely positive feedback.

Although the sport has stuck with 13-inch rim tires for the time being, a switch to the 18-inch rim design has been mooted for the next major technical regulation change, expected to come in 2017.

Speaking to MotorSportsTalk following the Spanish Grand Prix, Hembery confirmed that Pirelli was still looking into the 18-inch rim designs, and that the next test would be conducted next week in Barcelona.

“Yes, that’s right,” Hembery said when asked by this writer if Pirelli would be testing the prototypes in Barcelona next week using a GP2 car. “We’re doing a little bit more. We’ve carried on some development.

“Our GP2 car will be doing some testing with the 18 inch tires, that’s carried on.

“To be honest we’re doing it because we’ve got other programmes in mind as well, not just F1. It’s good for knowledge acquire. I think it’s more likely we’ll stay with 13 [inches] in F1.”

Hembery did say that the tires could be changed upon the next overhaul of the technical regulations, revealing that a number of plans were already being discussed.

“I think it will be more if we can give some more mechanical grip in the tires that improve the performance,” Hembery said. “We’ve got some ideas up our sleeve anyway for the regulations to throw in some more variables into the sport.”

However, he said that there were no plans to run a demo car using the 18-inch rims at the Monaco Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

“Not at the moment,” Hembery said. “If we’re asked.”

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.