2017 GP2, GP3 calendars released, Jerez to host standalone round

© GP2 Series
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GP2 and GP3 have confirmed their calendars ahead of the 2017 season, with both series adding a standalone round at Jerez in October.

GP2 and GP3 act as the second and third rungs on the single-seater ladder, with a number of Formula 1’s biggest talents previously plying their trade in the series.

For 2017, GP2 will return to Bahrain for its opening round, having started its 2016 campaign a few weeks later at the Spanish Grand Prix.

GP2 will support F1 at every European round from Spain onwards, as well as at Baku in Azerbaijan. A standalone round is scheduled at Jerez on October 6-8 ahead of the season finale in Abu Dhabi on November 26.

GP3 will first appear on the undercard for the Spanish Grand Prix in May, but will not return until the Austrian Grand Prix weekend at the end of July. It will then support all of the summer European rounds, as well as featuring at Jerez and in Abu Dhabi.

“We’re delighted to race in Jerez between Monza and Abu Dhabi,” GP2 chief Bruno Michel said.

“We wanted to have the same number of events (including three flyaway rounds in 2017 as in the previous year, but we were mindful of freight costs. This meant not adding a fourth flyaway round and staying in Europe for a standalone event.

“This is also why we decided to hold our final pre-season test session in Bahrain, ahead of the season opener.”

2017 GP2 Series Calendar

1. Sakhir, Bahrain – 14-16 April
2. Barcelona, Spain – 12-14 May
3. Monte Carlo, Monaco – 25-27 May
4. Baku, Azerbaijan – 23-25 June
5. Spielberg, Austria – 7-9 July
6. Silverstone, Great Britain – 14-16 July
7. Budapest, Hungary – 28-30 July
8. Spa, Belgium – 25-27 August
9. Monza, Italy – 1-3 September
10. Jerez, Spain – 6-8 October
11. Abu Dhabi – 24-26 November

2017 GP3 Series Calendar

1. Barcelona, Spain – 12-14 May
2. Spielberg, Austria – 7-9 July
3. Silverstone, Great Britain – 14-16 July
4. Budapest, Hungary – 28-30 July
5. Spa, Belgium – 25-27 August
6. Monza, Italy – 1-3 September
7. Jerez, Spain – 6-8 October
8. Abu Dhabi – 24-26 November

SuperMotocross: Ken Roczen urgently needed change

Roczen change
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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Change can be frightening, but it is often exhilarating and Ken Roczen, a rider in his ninth season on a 450 bike, it was urgently needed.

Roczen ended the 2022 Supercross season with his worst performance in five years. After finishing outside of the top five in seven of his last eight rounds in the stadium series, well down the points’ standings in ninth, he decided to put that season on hold.

How it ended was in stark contrast to how it began. Roczen’s 2022 season got off to the best possible start. He won the Supercross opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California by more than seven seconds over the 2021 champion Cooper Webb.

That would be his last podium and he scored only one more top-five in the Glendale, Arizona Triple Crown.

MORE: Ken Roczen sweeps top five in Anaheim 2 Triple Crown

Before 2022, Roczen was a regular challenger for the championship despite being plagued by major accidents that required surgery in 2017 and 2018. On his return, he was diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus, which presents with symptoms of heavy fatigue, muscle weakness and loss of appetite and last year he tested positive for COVID-19.

Against those odds, he finished second in the outdoor season in 2019 and third in 2020. In the Supercross series, he finished third in 2020 and second in 2021.

But the abbreviated season of 2022 signaled a need for change for Roczen.

“I needed the change urgently,” Roczen said in last week’s post-race press conference at Angel Stadium. “I did a pretty big change in general.”

Those comments came three races into the 2023 with him sitting among the top three finishers for the first time in 10 Supercross rounds. It was the 57th podium of his career, only six behind 10th-place Ryan Villopoto. It was also the first for Suzuki since 2019 when Chad Reed gave them one in Detroit 63 rounds ago.

Taking time off at the end of the Supercross season had the needed effect. He rejoined SuperMotocross in the outdoor season and immediately stood on the podium at Fox Raceway in Pala, California. Two rounds later, he won at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado. The relief was short lived and he would not stand on the podium again until this year.

Roczen Motocross Round 3
Ken Roczen won Round 3 of the outdoor season in 2022 at Thunder Valley after finished second in Moto 1 and first in Moto 2. Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Winds of Change

Roczen’s offseason was dramatic. Citing differences over his announcement to compete in the World Supercross Championship, he split with Honda HRC and declared himself a free agent. It wasn’t a difficult decision; Roczen was signed only for the Supercross season.

That change had the desired effect. Roczen won the WSX championship in their two-race, pilot season. More importantly, he proved to himself that he could compete for wins.

Late in the offseason, Roczen announced he would also change manufacturers with a move to HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki. He won the 2016 Pro Motocross title for Suzuki with nine wins in 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second. He easily outran the competition with an advantage of 86 points over second-place Eli Tomac.

“I just think change overall made it happen – and these overseas races – it’s really just a snowball,” Roczen said. “You start somewhere and you feel like something works out and I got better and had more fun doing it. Working with the team as well and working on the motorcycle to get better and actually see it paying off. It’s just, it’s just a big boost in general.”

The return to Suzuki at this stage of his career, after nearly a decade of competing on 450 motorcycles, recharged Roczen. He is one of three riders, (along with Cooper Webb and his former Honda teammate Chase Sexton), with a sweep of the top five in the first three rounds of the 2023 Supercross season.

But last week’s podium really drove home how strong he’s been.

“I think we’re all trying to take it all in,” Roczen said. “I wouldn’t say it came out of nowhere really, but before the season starts you think about – or I thought of how my whole last season went – and it’s been a long time since I’ve been on the podium.”

Roczen’s most recent podium prior to Anaheim 2 came at Budds Creek Motocross Park in Mechanicsville, Maryland last August in Round 10 of the outdoor season. His last podium in Supercross was the 2022 season opener that raised expectations so high.

Supercross Round 1 results
Ken Roczen raised expectations with his season opening win at Anaheim but did not stand on the box again in the Supercross series. Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

The change Roczen needed was not just a different team and bike. More importantly, he needed the freedom to set his own schedule and control his training schedule.

“It’s long days, but I’m really into it at the moment,” Roczen said. “Overall, I felt [that] throughout this off season and now my health has been really well, really good, so that helps. It’s needed to get to the top. I’m pretty confident that we’re, we’re doing the right thing – that I’m doing the right thing.

“I’m doing all my training on my own and I’m planning out my entire week. And I feel like I have a really good system going right now with recovery and putting in some hard days. Right now, I don’t really have anybody telling me what to do. I’m the best judge of that.

“It’s really hard to talk about how much work we’ve put in, but we’ve been doing some big changes and riding a lot throughout the week, some really, really late days. And they’re paying off right now; we’re heading in the right direction. We’re all pulling on the same string, and that helps me out big time.”