Hamilton ‘honored’ to match Senna, Fangio with 5th Monza pole

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Lewis Hamilton felt “honored” after matching Ayrton Senna and Juan Manuel Fangio’s record of five pole positions for the Italian Grand Prix during qualifying at Monza on Saturday.

Hamilton dominated all three stages of qualifying to capture his seventh pole position of the season, finishing almost half a second clear of Mercedes teammate and Formula 1 title rival Nico Rosberg.

The result saw Hamilton move alongside Senna and Fangio in the record books, both of whom claimed five pole positions at Monza through their careers.

“I was only made aware of that record as I came into this weekend, so of course that was in the back of my mind, hoping that it wouldn’t steer me off course,” Hamilton said.

“I feel incredibly proud and honored to be up amongst Senna and Juan Manuel. Incredible drivers and I never in a million years thought my name would be mentioned in the same sentence as them.”

Hamilton’s first effort in Q3 was good enough for pole, but he found yet more time on his second run with a stunning lap that lit up the timesheets.

“Particularly that last lap felt incredible. It’s such a great track, got such a great crowd,” Hamilton said.

“What this team has achieved is just phenomenal. We’re so fortunate to be driving for this team and representing them and driving a car as it was today.”

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.