IMSA reschedules Laguna Seca, Long Beach race weekends to September

IMSA rescheduling 2021
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With the postponement of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Series also will move its WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca round to September in a 2021 rescheduling to keep intact a West Coast road swing that initially was scheduled for April.

Instead of traveling from Southern California to the Monterey Peninsula on consecutive weeks in the original 2021 schedule released in September, sports car teams will travel from a Sept. 10-12 race weekend at Laguna Seca to Long Beach for the Sept. 24-26 weekend.

“The West Coast audience is extremely valuable to all of our stakeholders, and this necessary shift provides the best opportunity to serve our many IMSA race fans in California,” IMSA president John Doonan said in a release. “Likewise, it is important to our WeatherTech Championship teams to have both California races back-to-back on the schedule. We’re grateful to our partners at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach and all involved for their flexibility.”

The Laguna Seca headliner will be a two-hour, 40-minute race Sept. 12 with the DPi, LMP2, GTLM and GTD classes, and the weekend also will include races in the Michelin Pilot Challenge, Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America and Global Mazda MX-5 Cup.

Long Beach’s 100-minute race Sept. 25 will feature DPi, GTLM and GTD and will be the penultimate round ahead of the Petit Le Mans on Oct. 6-9. The season finale at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta previously had been preceded the Aug. 20-22 race weekend at Virginia International Raceway; the rescheduling of Laguna Seca and Long Beach will close that gap but also means IMSA will be idle for nearly two months in the spring (from the March 17-20 weekend at Sebring to the May 14-16 weekend at Mid-Ohio).

Because of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, IMSA was forced to cancel its Long Beach race in 2020. It held a rescheduled Laguna Seca event on Nov. 1.

Its 2021 race initially had been planned to open Laguna Seca’s race schedule next year.

“The entire IMSA team is a valuable partner and as such, we must continue to be flexible in scheduling to be able to provide fans with the best possible racing event possible,” president and general manager of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca president and general manager John Narigi said in a release. “The spring race would have been ideal to kick off our season for a variety of reasons, but we are ready to welcome fans, teams and sponsors back to the Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship in September.”

“Thanks to everyone at IMSA for their help in making this transition of the 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach to the fall,” Grand Prix Association of Long Beach President and CEO Jim Michaelian said in a release. “We want to conduct the event when we have the best opportunity to provide our guests with all of the attractive features of the Grand Prix in a safe and inviting environment. That will certainly include the Saturday IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with three classes battling it out in a 100-minute shootout.”

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.