Ken Roczen joins the Genuine Honda Racing Team for inaugural WSX race Lessons learned in three rounds of Extreme E pay huge dividends in the Copper X Prix for Tanner Foust

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Ken Roczen and the Genuine Honda racing team have announced that they will pair up to battle in the first round of World Supercross (WSX) on October 8 at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

Earlier this week, Roczen declared himself a free agent for 2023 after he and the Honda factory team failed to reach an agreement. Both parties agreed that the WSX races were instrumental in derailing the contract.

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Roczen last raced in front of British fans in August 2011. He won a round of the FIM World Motocross Championship held in August of that year and won the MX2 world title that same year.

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“Yarriv and his team are highly experienced and have achieved credible results around the world” Ken Roczen said in a press release. “I want to race this off season and the Honda Genuine Racing team is working with me and my personal sponsors. I’m looking forward to seeing parts of Europe that I haven’t seen in my adult life, and I’m also really looking forward to going to Australia. I have friends and fans there and I can’t wait to enjoy the off-season racing and the great people.”

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Roczen will compete this off-season aboard the CRF450R, which will be built and prepped by the HGA team. Competing aboard a vehicle that he feels comfortable with will help Roczen in his quest for the WSX title.

“Ken is one of the fastest and most experienced racers in the world,” said Konsky, owner of the original Honda racing team. “I believe this experience will help the team.

“Besides, his popularity will only help the development of the sport around the world as he races in new countries. This is a rare opportunity for me to learn and for Supercross fans around the world to see it in action. We’re happy to play a small role in this.”

To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a long and unique journey Tanner Faust went through in his first season in the Extreme E series when he took early season lessons in Chile to compete in the Copper X Prix. And he learned his lessons well.

McLaren announced in February that it would expand its motorsport program with the Extreme E. They signed two talented rally drivers, Foust and Emma Gilmour, and put them on the first round in Neom, Saudi Arabia, with just a few days of testing behind them. Scorched by the sun of the Arabian desert, it was tested by fire.

The duo performed well in their debut, advancing to the final round and finishing in fifth place. As the Extreme E heads into another desert halfway across the globe to stage four, it’s time to catch up with Faust and ask about McLaren’s progress. Last weekend in one of the most extreme regions of the world – the Atacama Desert – the Copper X Prix competition was held.

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“The shock in the first race was the speed,” Faust told NBC Sports. “It was much higher than what we tested. We spent a lot of time around 100 miles an hour [in race trim] and our test speeds were more in the 60 to 70 mile range. Then when we sort of got around that, the car was upgraded so you can drive it even faster.”

In rally racing, some incidents are beyond the control of the driver. Even peeking out from behind another car can be dangerous due to potholes that have recently been dug into the ground or large bushes that seem to sprout between the circles. A couple of flips got Foust back on the ground, but the speed was there, and that was important.

“We’ve had some issues this season,” Fust said ahead of the Copper X Prix. “We had a good start; reached the final, which is not easy to do in this series. I had two throws in the first three competitions, but each time I added. Now we come into the 4th round in Chile with a pretty strong position. We have competitive moments in the team. We communicate and think very well about this Odyssey car.”

Fust’s words proved to be prophetic.

He won the Crazy Race – the Extreme E version of the Last Chance qualifier – and did so after clearing the course. Similarly, he reached the Saudi Arabian final, but this time it was better. There were those hard-earned lessons to draw on, and Fust had representatives behind him. He wasn’t about to be taken by surprise by any random obstacles.

Tanner Faust passed Sebastien Loeb heading into the Switch Zone in the Copper X Prix. (Photo by Sam Bagnell/LAT Images)

In the Copper X Prix final, he put pressure on one of the best rally drivers in the history of the sport.

At the end of his stretch, after pitching sideways through a tight southpaw, Fust put his McLaren Extreme E Odyssey at the head of the pack in front of Sebastian Loeb as they headed into the switch zone. There he will hand over the car to his navigator Gilmour.

The Extreme E series is designed for male and female drivers, and both are behind the wheel.

After a driver change, Gilmour momentarily lost the lead to Loeb’s teammate Cristina Gutiérrez, but as they raced to the finish line, she took the lead and slipped under the checkers first.

“What an improvement for the team compared to this year,” Fust said after the race. “We struggled with some events being in the first year of competition. This weekend we showed real pace; Overtaking Sebastian Loeb was a highlight.

“Emma did a great job in the final. I was lucky enough to go from last to first in the Crazy Race and then to first in the final, but with some penalty flags, 20 seconds were added to our time, putting us in fifth place. It was great to cross the finish line first, I love this wide track and the NEOM McLaren Odyssey was fantastic here.

“Hopefully we can continue that momentum in Uruguay.”

Loeb and Gutierrez climbed to the top of the podiumbut the feeling of going under checkers first cannot be taken away.

Race responsibly

Since the invention of automobiles, racing has played a socially responsible role in improving safety. As the Earth reaches a tipping point with climate change, racing must adapt to these new needs and demands, and this is where Extreme E’s unique strategy becomes increasingly important.

The Extreme E experience is about more than just racing. Each race is accompanied by a legacy program designed to repair the damage caused by climate change and erase the footprints caused by the events.

Faust, a biologist at the University of Colorado, had the opportunity to rekindle his interest and pay tribute to the environment ahead of the Copper X Prix.

Atacama is the oldest desert in the world, dating back 150 million years. It is the driest place on earth with the highest levels of ultraviolet radiation. Yet somehow life continues through underground rivers with oases dating back to Inca times. Fust was involved in preparing the local habitat for the reintroduction of the endangered water frog into Chile’s longest river, the Loa, meandering through the desert.

“I love this experience,” Faust said. “I put on a lot of chapstick, a lot of sunscreen. What a fascinating part of the world. I would never have come here otherwise.

“Honestly, I am honored to be a part of this sport. I firmly believe that motorsport has benefited us over the past 100 years. I think we benefit every time we put on our seatbelts and drive down the road to lessons learned from racing since the turn of the century. And I really hope that motorsport will continue this tradition.

“I think motorsport loves [Extreme E] does it in a responsible, gender-neutral and carbon-neutral way.”


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