Alonso anticipating challenging weekend in Austria

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Fernando Alonso is anticipating another challenging outing at the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend, but is refusing to give up despite failing to score any points in the opening seven rounds of the 2015 Formula 1 season.

McLaren has endured a difficult start to the season after making the switch to Honda power units for the 2015 season, with the MP4-30 car taking the team to just four points – all courtesy of Jenson Button in Monaco – leaving it ninth in the constructors’ championship.

Alonso was resigned to a fourth retirement of the season two weeks ago in Canada, but was in the race long enough to berate the team over the radio, claiming they were looking “amateur” by running so far down the order.

However, the Spaniard is hoping for a more productive weekend in Austria, even if he expects the nature of the circuit to take its toll on his car.

“Montreal was a difficult race for the whole team,” Alonso said. “We expected it to be tough because of the nature of the circuit, but obviously a double retirement was especially disappointing.

“But, of course, just because a weekend doesn’t go to plan, it doesn’t mean we give up. We’re still seeing great progress every weekend, and we hope Austria will be the same.

“Our most important focus is reliability, so that we can get the most time on track in order to make the biggest improvements we can.

“This is a very physical circuit with four long, fast straights and heavy braking in the corners, so it’ll be challenging for our package, but it’s a really interesting track to race on.”

The Austrian Grand Prix returned to the F1 calendar in 2014 at the revamped Red Bull Ring, and has already established itself as a firm favorite among the drivers and teams.

“Spielberg is a beautiful location for a grand prix and going back there last year after an 11-year break was a great experience,” Alonso said.

“It’s still the great circuit it was, and there are quite a few overtaking opportunities which make it even more enjoyable.

“We’ve already put the last race behind us and I’m keen to get out there, race hard with our nearest competitors, and hopefully have some fun.”

The Austrian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN from 7:30am ET on Sunday.

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.