Sebring’s 12-hour classic set for a 49-car show this year

Photo: Courtesy of IMSA
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There’s a handful of changes compared to the Rolex 24 at Daytona for the second round of both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh from Florida.

A 49-car grid was released on Wednesday, broken down 12 in Prototype, 7 in Prototype Challenge, 10 in GT Le Mans and 20 in GT Daytona. There’s some driver changes as well.

It’s down slightly from the 54 cars at Daytona, but up six cars from the 43 that started last year.

The P change goes from 13 to 12 cars; add the new DragonSpeed Oreca 05 Nissan and the Alegra Motorsports Riley BMW DP in addition to confirmed partial season entries from Tequila Patron ESM and Highway to Help, along with the eight full-season cars. The two Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Fords and SMP Racing BR Engineering BR01 Nissan drop off.

PC drops by only one from eight cars to seven, as BAR1 Motorsports runs only one car instead of two.

GTLM drops by one with the SMP Racing Ferrari 488 GTE not in attendance.

GTD sees the biggest change with a drop by two cars to 22. Drop offs from Daytona at the moment include the second Riley Viper, the TRG-AMR Aston Martin and the Frikadelli Porsche.

Dream Racing makes its debut with another Lamborghini Huracán GT3 and after a reportedly weird sequence of events led to O’Gara Motorsport’s team withdrawal, the Townsend Bell/Bill Sweedler combination resurfaces in a second Lamborghini at Robby Benton’s Change Racing.

Despite not being listed on the preliminary entry list, Patrick Long will continue in the No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R along with Tim Pappas, Nick Catsburg and Andy Pilgrim for Sebring.

The race runs next week, March 19.

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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.