MRTI: Barber Warmup Weekend times, notes

Anthony Martin. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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The three rungs of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder had three busy days of running at Barber Motorsports Park this weekend, with the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires running on Saturday, March 5 and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series out Sunday and Monday, March 6-7.

Given the slightly cooler conditions and limited sets of Cooper Tires on offer this “Warmup Weekend” test, these times might not be entirely representative of what we see when all three series come back in April, or what the series will do at St. Petersburg this weekend for the season-opening doubleheader.

Nonetheless, here’s the quick recaps and times:

INDY LIGHTS

On a run on new tires, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Santiago Urrutia set the fastest time of the test at 1:12.4479 in the No. 55 Soul Red Mazda Dallara IL-15 Mazda. The Uruguayan edged Belardi Auto Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist and Team Pelfrey’s Scott Hargrove.

While Urrutia and Hargrove have past track experience, Rosenqvist loved his first day at the track: “This circuit is fantastic. I think it’s one of the top-five best circuits I’ve driven, it’s really nice and flowing. It’s a proper circuit – you’ll pay for it if you make a mistake. It’s very high speed and very physical, so it really tests the teams, the cars and the drivers.”

More is below:

PRO MAZDA

Team Pelfrey laid down its intention of continuing its Pro Mazda title run with its trio of drivers at the first official test of 2016. Rookie Aaron Telitz measured up nicely to Weiron Tan and Pato O’Ward, the latter of whom made a last-minute cameo for testing in a third car.

“All three Team Pelfrey cars were quick. Going up against my two teammates, who have a great deal of experience in the Pro Mazda cars after having a full year under their belts, shows me where I can improve. We work really well as a team,” said Telitz, the Rice Lake, Wisconsin native who now resides in Minnesota.

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USF2000

If testing was any indication, the USF2000 field will be stacked. Between Anthony Martin (pictured) and Parker Thompson (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing), James Munro (Team Pelfrey), Ayla Agren (John Cummiskey Racing), Garth Rickards and Jordan Lloyd (Pabst Racing), there is no shortage of talent – and that’s just the top six runners. The top 12 were all within one second of the fastest time for the week.

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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.