Gutierrez, Haas “break the barrier” to make first Q3 run at Monza

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Esteban Gutierrez has delivered Gene Haas’ team its maiden Q3 appearance, and will start 10th for tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix (7 a.m. ET, NBCSN).

The young Mexican has been first of the Haas F1 Team’s pair of drivers to crack into the top 10, which marks a remarkable achievement for the team in just its 14th Grand Prix as an outfit – and the last race of the European season before the remaining flyaway rounds.

Gutierrez ran a best time of 1:23.386 in Q1 to advance into Q2 and supplanted that then, running at 1:22.856, which was seventh in Q2. Both of those times were set on Pirelli’s supersoft tires.

Despite a ragged lap from Gutierrez in Q3 – he ran wide at the second Lesmo – he’ll still start 10th for tomorrow’s race.

Post-qualifying, Gutierrez reflected on the accomplishment primarily for the entirety of the Haas team.

“It was fantastic. A great effort from the whole team,” Gutierrez told NBCSN’s Will Buxton.

“Being very consistent in last few months has helped us to focus on the details that make the difference.

“Today, we broke that barrier into the top 10. We want to establish it and make it solid for tomorrow.”

Gutierrez should be locked in a midfield scrap for the lower regions of the points. But the driver who’s come 11th on multiple occasions this season has a great chance of securing his first points finish this season, and first overall in his career since his first and thus far only F1 points score – seventh at the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix then driving for Sauber.

“It looks solid. I pushed the limit. We might be a bit off position to the front,” Gutierrez explained. “It was great to do good laps in qualifying. Tomorrow we have to optimize all we have to make it work.

“We’ll do our best. I will push. It’s the best position ever for us.”

While the day was stellar for Gutierrez, teammate Romain Grosjean had a tougher go of it with an off in FP3 this morning and a five-spot grid penalty for a gearbox change. Grosjean qualified 12th, but will roll off 17th on Sunday.

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.