Leclerc wins Saturday, spins Sunday, extends F2 points lead

FIA Formula 2
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Ferrari junior driver Charles Leclerc extended his Formula 2 championship lead despite enjoying mixed fortunes over the Red Bull Ring race weekend in support of the Austrian Grand Prix.

Leclerc continued his 100 per cent record of F2 poles on Friday in Spielberg, and carried his form through to the feature race on Saturday, taking a controlled victory.

After retaining his lead at the start, Leclerc managed to perfect his strategy and stay ahead of his rivals throughout, swapping from prime to options tires in the closing stages.

The Monegasque driver ultimately crossed the line 1.3 seconds clear of DAMS’ Nicholas Latifi after the Canadian went on a late charge with fresh tires, gaining a number of positions.

Leclerc’s Prema Racing teammate, Antonio Fuoco, took third place ahead of Oliver Rowland, who slipped 59 points behind in the title race.

Rowland was able to claw back some of the points difference on Sunday when Leclerc spun out after making light contact with Fuoco five laps into the sprint race, forcing him to retire for the third time this season.

A third-place finish saw Rowland reduce Leclerc’s advantage to 49 points as Artem Markelov scored his second win of the season for Russian Time. Alexander Albon capped off his racing return from injury with his maiden F2 podium in second place.

Formula 2 returns next weekend in support of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

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.