Hamilton dominates Italian GP qualifying en route to 7th pole of 2016

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Lewis Hamilton stormed to his seventh pole position of the 2016 Formula 1 season after dominating qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on Saturday afternoon.

Hamilton topped all three sessions ahead of Mercedes teammate and championship rival Nico Rosberg to end the German’s streak of pole positions, taking his first since the British Grand Prix in July.

Both Hamilton and Rosberg made it through Q2 on the soft tire, allowing them to start on the harder compound on Sunday. However, Hamilton is likely to request a change of one of his tires after causing a flat-spot on his quickest set, having also attempted to go quicker on a second run.

Hamilton took provisional pole with his first lap on super-softs in Q3, going almost three-tenths of a second faster than Rosberg.

Rosberg improved with his second run as the checkered flag came out, but was still two-tenths off Hamilton’s effort. Despite already having pole in the bag, the Briton found yet more time on his last lap to extend his advantage to half a second.

Ferrari locked out the second row for its home race as Sebastian Vettel edged out teammate Kimi Raikkonen for third place.

Valtteri Bottas impressed for Williams, running to fifth ahead of the Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. Force India saw both its drivers reach the top 10, with Sergio Perez qualifying eighth ahead of Nico Hulkenberg.

Haas chalked up another major breakthrough during its debut F1 season by getting into Q3 for the first time thanks to Esteban Gutierrez. A stellar lap from the Mexican saw him finish P7 in Q2 before eventually qualifying 10th.

After announcing his retirement from F1 earlier in the weekend, Felipe Massa was unfortunate not to reach Q3, finishing 0.016 seconds shy in P11 for Williams. Romain Grosjean was 12th in the second Haas car, but will drop five places on the grid after a gearbox change on Saturday morning.

The weakness of the Honda engine around the high-speed Monza circuit left Fernando Alonso struggling for pace in qualifying. The Spaniard was unable to make it through to Q3, finishing 13th for McLaren.

Manor enjoyed another impressive charge in qualifying courtesy of Pascal Wehrlein, who reached Q2 for the second race in a row. The German impressed during the second session to qualify 14th ahead of Jenson Button and Carlos Sainz Jr. – two major scalps for the backmarker team.

Daniil Kvyat’s rotten run of form continued as he was eliminated in Q1 once again, finishing less than a tenth shy of Alonso’s time. The Russian was left fuming with P17, sending an expletive-filled message back to his Toro Rosso pit wall after the session.

Sauber and Renault endured fairly routine qualifying sessions, their drivers filling out places 18 to 21. Felipe Nasr was the quickest of the quartet ahead of teammate Marcus Ericsson, with Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen following in P20 and P21.

Esteban Ocon’s second F1 qualifying session came to an early end after an issue on his Manor forced him to stop at the first chicane. After failing to set a time, the Frenchman will start from the back of the grid on Sunday.

The Italian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET 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.