Ricciardo: Bahrain’s grown more exciting since becoming a night race

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Daniel Ricciardo has hailed the Bahrain Grand Prix as a much better race since it became a night race two years ago.

Of course, correspondingly, his results have improved at the track in the same time period. The 26-year-old Australian hadn’t scored points in his first two cracks at the race in 2012 and 2013 with Scuderia Toro Rosso, although a sixth place qualifying run with Toro Rosso there in 2012 marked him as a future man to watch.

The last two years, Ricciardo has finished fourth and sixth. Even though he’s unlikely to score a podium on the Red Bull RB12 TAG Heuer’s outright pace, he’s still confident to maintain the momentum after finishing fourth in Melbourne to open the season two weeks ago.

“I think the track’s always been pretty fun to race on, I feel I’ve always had good results at this track, and there are good places for overtaking,” Ricciardo said in the team’s pre-race advance.

“Since it’s been a night race it’s become a lot more exciting. The tires last a bit longer and you can push a bit harder throughout the race so it’s been a good challenge the last few years and a place I’ve always enjoyed.

“There’s not really one standout corner that’s like ‘woah’ but it’s all pretty cool and the middle sector is quite fun.

Ricciardo noted that between Bahrain, Singapore and Abu Dhabi, it’s good to have a handful of night races without there being too many.

“Night races are fun, for whatever reason it feels like you go a bit faster at night, so it’s exciting,” he said. “If every race was a night race it wouldn’t have that same atmosphere so it’s cool that we have a few across the year.”

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

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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.