Rolex 24 at Daytona lineup will be set through 100-minute qualifying race to conclude Roar

Rolex 24 qualifying race
IMSA
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The starting grid of the 59th annual Rolex 24 at Daytona will be determined nearly a week ahead and in a new manner — with a 100-minute qualifying race for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener.

The Motul Pole Award 100 will be held Jan. 24 as the concluding event of the revamped Roar before the Rolex next year. The preseason test on Jan. 22-24 will lead directly into the Rolex 24, which will take place over Jan. 30-31.

Previous editions of the Roar were held three weeks earlier at Daytona International Speedway; this year IMSA teams will be remaining at the track to prepare for the prestigious 24-hour endurance race (which typically had held standard time trials as to set the starting grid a day before the race).

“The Rolex 24 At Daytona is a special event that is worthy of a unique qualifying format,” IMSA president John Doonan said in a release. “Not unlike the Daytona 500, which has set its field through the Duel At Daytona qualifying races for decades, introducing the Motul Pole Award 100 qualifying race for the Rolex 24 brings a new and exciting dynamic to the Roar.”

The Jan. 24 qualifying race will feature all five classes (DPi, GTLM, LMP2, LMP3, GTD) in the series, and teams will be required to use two drivers per car (with LMP2, LMP3 and GTD using Pro-Am lineups as in sprint races).

Under a new format in which points also will be awarded for qualifying in the 2021 season, the pole-sitter will receive 35 points (10 percent of a race win under a new structure that increases points awarded by a factor of 10).

Though the qualifying race will limit cars to two drivers, points will be awarded to all entered drivers for the Rolex 24, and any entrant in multiple classes must designate in which they will earn qualifying points.

The lineup for the qualifying race will be determined through traditional qualifying sessions Jan. 23, and a 20-minute prerace warmup session will be held Jan. 24.

Practice sessions on Jan. 22-23 (including a two-hour night session) will be open to all drivers.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
Align Media
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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.