NHRA: Elite Motorsports parts ways with Mopar/Dodge after just one season

Photo courtesy Elite Motorsports
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After capturing back-to-back championships with Erica Enders in 2014 and 2015, Elite Motorsports surprised the NHRA Pro Stock world after the 2015 season when it announced it would switch from Chevrolet cars and motors to Mopar/Dodge power and car bodies for 2016.

Wednesday, Elite Motorsports once again surprised the Pro Stock ranks when it announced it will part ways with Mopar/Dodge after just one season.

“I want to thank everyone at Mopar and Dodge, from the top executives to the engineers on to the people helping us at the races for their hard work and dedication,” Elite Motorsports owner Richard Freeman said in a statement. “My guys should be commended. They basically worked around the clock with pretty much zero days off for the entire season, busting their butts to try and give Erica and Jeggy competitive racecars. We look forward to a fresh start into 2017.”

Added Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA – Global: “We thank the entire Elite Motorsports team, including owner Richard Freeman and drivers Erica Enders and Jeg Coughlin Jr. for serving as superb ambassadors of our brand. “The drivers and team handled themselves with professionalism and class, constantly working hard to break into the winner’s circle. We commend them for their dedication and never-quit attitude, and wish the team, Erica and Jeg nothing but success in their future endeavors.”

With Enders winning the championship the last two seasons, and with five-time champion Coughlin joining the team in a full-time capacity, expectations were high for both drivers in their Dodge Darts in 2016.

Unfortunately, due to a number of factors, including NHRA mandating electronic fuel injection and doing away with hood scoops, Elite just never could regain the supremacy and domination it had the previous two years.

Enders finished the season ninth in the standings and failed to win even one race after winning six in 2014 and nine in 2016. Still, she wouldn’t trade the experience.

“Mopar has been wonderful to work with,” Enders said. “It seems we were chasing it all year and never really got the cars where we could challenge for wins.

“Hopefully, we can start writing a new chapter and everyone will move forward into a better situation, including Team Mopar. We wish them nothing but the best because they’ve been great partners.”

Coughlin can relate to Enders’ struggles. He also failed to win a race and finished tenth in the standings, but still welcomed working with Mopar/Dodge.

“We really wanted to light up the scoreboards this year with our Magneti Marelli offered by Mopar/JEGS.com Dodge Dart but we couldn’t quite get it running where it needed to be,” Coughlin said. “Like Richard, I salute everyone at Mopar and thank them for the effort. We wish them well in 2017 and beyond.”

Elite Motorsports has not yet announced which manufacturer it will align itself with for 2017, but a return to Chevrolet is likely.

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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.