Hamilton: Pole in Mexico not crucial

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Lewis Hamilton remains optimistic about his chances in tomorrow’s Mexican Grand Prix despite only qualifying second on Saturday, losing out to Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton finished less than two-tenths of a second shy of Rosberg with his quickest Q3 lap, handing the German driver his fourth consecutive pole position.

However, after winning the last three races from second on the grid, Hamilton remains relaxed about tomorrow’s race, believing pole to be less crucial at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

“It was great out there today,” Hamilton said. “I really enjoyed driving and we have an amazing crowd here too. They’re constantly cheering, which is great to see.

“The track got grippier so it was more fun to drive and it was quite a relaxing qualifying session in general, with no real stress.

“At some races pole really makes a difference, but at this one it I don’t really mind being second because it’s a long, long way down to turn one and I plan on getting a good start tomorrow.”

Grip levels have been low all weekend on the newly-resufaced track, and Hamilton is wary of having to start from scratch if the rain some are forecasting hits Mexico City on Saturday night.

“The track is evolving and improving bit by bit,” Hamilton said. “I don’t know if it’s going to rain tonight but, if it does, it will clean the track and then we will be learning again tomorrow so that will be a real challenge.

“We don’t know what kind of strategy it’s going to be or how long the tires will last – we’ll find out tomorrow! I’m looking forward to a good battle as it was very close today.”

The Mexican Grand Prix is live on NBC and Live Extra from 1:30pm 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.