Nato nicks GP2 feature race pole at Silverstone

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Norman Nato continued his impressive start to the 2016 GP2 Series season by scoring pole position at Silverstone on Friday in the narrowest of circumstances.

Racing Engineering’s Nato found himself embroiled in a battle with Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly for pole, edging out the Frenchman with five minutes remaining.

However, Nato crossed the line just as the session was red flagged following a stoppage for Oliver Rowland, leaving to a post-qualifying investigation to see whether the lap would be allowed.

Stewards were satisfied that Nato’s lap of 1:38.216 was posted before the session was red flagged, handing him pole for Saturday’s feature race at Silverstone.

“It was very close!” Nato – also celebrating his birthday on Friday – said. “On the first set I was P2 behind Pierre, their speed was much quicker than us, and I didn’t put my lap together the way I wanted.

“On the second set we didn’t touch the car: I just said to my engineer I wanted to improve the lap just with my driving because I knew were to improve, and this was what I did.

“We were a bit lucky with what happened with the red flag, but in motorsport you need luck sometimes: I’ve been unlucky in Monaco, today I’m lucky, and it’s good for me.”

Gasly was left to settle for second place, two-tenths of a second behind, while Nicholas Latifi was one of a handful of drivers to improve after the red flag, qualifying third.

Raffaele Marciello ended the session fourth ahead of Sergey Sirotkin, who will start the race from the pit lane after failing to visit the weighbridge when requested during the session.

Antonio Giovinazzi will start fifth ahead of Mitch Evans, Jordan King and Arthur Pic, while Oliver Rowland will line up ninth on the grid despite his spin. Artem Markelov rounds out the top 10.

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.