Toro Rosso updates get positive feedback after first run

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Toro Rosso may have bucked the trend by delaying its first major upgrade package until this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, but the move appears to now be paying dividends.

The majority of the F1 field introduced its updates at the Spanish Grand Prix at the beginning of May, but Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen confirmed at the time that the team was waiting until Austria to apply some new parts.

During practice at the Red Bull Ring on Friday, Verstappen finished eighth in both FP1 and FP2, whilst teammate Carlos Sainz Jr’s pace was good enough for P11 in both sessions.

“A pretty good first day here in Austria,” chief race engineer Phil Charles said. “Both drivers settled in well and we were able to test some new parts on both cars, which worked positively.

“We also set the two cars up slightly differently today and there’s some interesting information for us to go through tonight.

“Probably the biggest thing for us to go away and work on now has to do with the amount of graining when on the option tire. We seem to be a lot happier on primes, so we need to work on the set-up and make sure we find a way to work around this graining.

“But overall we can be satisfied with our Friday, we ticked all the boxes on the programme.”

Verstappen was pleased to finally get his hands on the new updates for the car, and gave his approval after practice had finished on Friday.

“I think the day started off well,” Verstappen said. “We had some new updates, so we used the first practice to test them and I was quite happy with the session. It was important to complete lots of laps in the morning and we then made the right choice for FP2.

“The lap times were not too bad on both the soft and super-soft tires. It’s a shame that I got held up in the last sector on options, if not I could’ve ended higher up, so I’m happy with today. I also like this track and driving here in an F1 car is even better!”

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.