Daniel Ricciardo: Red Bull not far off Mercedes, Ferrari

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Daniel Ricciardo believes that Red Bull is not far away from the pace of Mercedes and Ferrari after finishing fourth in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.

The Formula 1 season kicked off with Ricciardo’s home race, and he gave the local fans plenty to cheer for as he charged to fourth place at the checkered flag.

Ricciardo had been running in the podium positions before his tires began to degrade towards the end, forcing him into a late pit stop that dropped him to fifth.

The Australian quickly recovered to fourth at the expense of Felipe Massa, and was pleased with the pace of the Red Bull RB12 car throughout the race.

“Today was fun for me, it was so good to be back racing. I came on the radio more than once expressing my joy to just being out there competing,” Ricciardo said.

“That joy was emphasized by having a good car underneath me. At the start we were able to pick cars off. We had good pace with high fuel on the option [tire] and it was fun to be able to pass cars, I was enjoying that as always.

“I was sitting in a podium spot towards the end and I was hoping the tires would last but I knew they weren’t going to hold and I would have to pit again.

“But fourth is still a good result and I’m happy we’re not that far off Mercedes and Ferrari.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner praised Ricciardo, and echoed his comments about the car’s competitiveness in race conditions.

“A great drive from Daniel at his home race, he drove a competitive race from start to finish,” Horner said.

“It was always a long shot for a podium but he did everything possible today. It’s encouraging to see the pace of the car in race trim.”

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.