Joe Roberts wins second Moto2 pole of the season for American Racing

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Joe Roberts rediscovered his season-opening speed in MotoGP Moto2 qualifying Saturday at Automotodrom Brno, scoring his second pole position of the season.

With a lap of 2 minutes, 1.692 seconds on his No. 16 Kalex bike, the American edged Sam Lowes by 0.13 seconds to take the top starting spot in the Czech Republic Grand Prix. Enea Bastianini will start third

After finishing fourth from the pole position in the March 8 opener at Qatar, Roberts had struggled with consecutive 17th-place finishes in the past two rounds at Jerez since the series returned from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

AMERICAN LEGACY: Roberts seeks to become the next great U.S. rider

“Yeah, it was quite difficult for me to come back from the long break,” the Malibu, California, native said. “I think it was kind of extreme conditions, new front tire, a long break. It’s still quite a new team. I think it was a difficult start, but as soon as got here, I like these type of tracks where they’re very flowing, and I always said coming here I was going to do something amazing.

“I have a lot of confidence coming here, but if I’m honest, I didn’t expect that lap time. The whole weekend, we’re missing a little bit of something with the front, and then that last session, the guys gave me something with the bike that I really felt comfortable with, and I really just tried to put a perfect lap together, and I guess it was enough. Almost more happy about this one than in Qatar.”

After becoming the first American in 10 years to win a Moto2 pole in March, Joe Roberts is on the pole again for Sunday’s race at Brno (Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images).

With the Qatar pole, Roberts, 23, became Moto2’s first American pole-sitter in 10 years and said he also learned some racecraft while leading 15 of 20 laps in the opener that he plans on applying Sunday at the Brno circuit.

“I actually felt in qualifying even more confident with my race pace,” he said. “It’s really hard to know. The conditions here are really quite tricky. It’s hot and the grip is really down. Until you get there, you’re not really going to do know. Just have to give it everything you can, but in the practices, we’ve been quite strong with our pace. I’m looking forward to it, it’s going to be a great race.”

In the premier MotoGP division, Johann Zarco took the pole over Fabio Quartararo, making it the first 1-2 Frenchman lockout of qualifying in series history. Quartararo is aiming for his third consecutive victory to start the season.

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.