From P2, Ricciardo looks for luck and to go one better in Baku GP

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For one day anyway, the racing gods have smiled on Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull Racing.

The Monaco polesitter now has his second front row start of the season, as he’ll inherit P2 following Sergio Perez’s grid penalty for Sunday’s European Grand Prix from Baku, Azerbaijan (Sunday, 8 a.m. ET, NBCSN).

Perez and Ricciardo have both had incidents this weekend, Perez in third free practice and Ricciardo in first free practice. It’s Perez’s incident though that damaged his gearbox and necessitated a five-grid spot penalty, thus giving the Australian a shot to move forward.

“It was hectic. Intense!” Ricciardo said of the session during the post-qualifying press conference.

“Thanks to the guys and the team for getting me out to make sure I got a lap in. My first run in Q3 was pretty average to say the least.”

But, despite Lewis Hamilton’s accident and qualifying stuff that brought out a red flag, it meant there was still a mad dash to get back out.

“Then I had one more chance. Thought (the first run) was looking like that was it. I knew not everyone would get a lap, so get a lap to jump up from seventh. I think Seb (Vettel) – I maybe gave him a bit of a tow!

“But it was good. Very good, really happy to bounce back with a top three.”

Ricciardo was desperately unlucky in both Monaco and Canada and he’ll have to be hoping bad luck doesn’t come in threes, as he seeks his first win since 2014.

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.