Jani sets the pace for Porsche in opening Bahrain WEC practice

© FIA WEC/Adrenal Media

Porsche’s championship-leading trio of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb set the pace in the opening practice session for the FIA World Endurance Championship season finale in Bahrain.

Dumas, Jani and Lieb arrive at the Bahrain International Circuit requiring only a sixth-place finish to clinch their maiden title, having also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans back in June.

Jani was the fastest driver as the field hit the track for FP1 on Thursday afternoon, with an early lap of 1:42.107 enough to give Porsche top spot in the classification.

Audi’s final weekend in the WEC started off in quietly-impressive fashion as the no. 8 and no. 7 R18s finished second and third respectively, the former lapping three-tenths off Jani’s effort.

Toyota’s title-contending no. 6 car ended the session fourth, with the no. 1 Porsche and no. 5 Toyota following in P5 and P6 to round out the LMP1-H runners.

In LMP2, class champions Signatech Alpine kicked off the weekend by setting the pace as Nicolas Lapierre put in a lap time of 1:50.906 to finish almost two-tenths clear of the no. 45 Manor, which welcomes back Roberto Merhi for the weekend.

Aston Martin Racing put its stamp on proceedings early on in GTE Pro by securing a one-two finish, with the no. 97 leading the way courtesy of Darren Turner, who is joined by Jonny Adam for the weekend.

GTE Am champions-elect AF Corse also set the pace in its respective class, knowing that pole on Saturday will to enough for the no. 83 crew to clinch the title.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
Align Media

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.