Per report, Derrick Walker to be named IndyCar competition boss

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Per a report on from Robin Miller, also of NBC Sports Network, IndyCar has hired Derrick Walker as its new competition director.

Walker, 68, is a veteran IndyCar team owner and would serve as the liasion between the paddock and series management. A formal announcement is expected next week.

He currently serves as team manager for Ed Carpenter Racing in IndyCar (Carpenter pictured right, at Barber this year) and in the same role for the Team Falken Tire Porsche team in the American Le Mans Series. How those roles will be impacted by this appointment is yet to be determined.

The Falken team competes this weekend in the ALMS round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, in Monterey, Calif.

His racing history began in the 1970s, working with Roger Penske first in Formula One and then in IndyCar, prior to starting his own team.

Walker last fielded his own IndyCar entry in Champ Car in 2008 for Alex Tagliani; it was previously known as Team Australia for three seasons previous owing to Aussie Vineyards sponsorship, and fielded a variety of drivers including Will Power and Simon Pagenaud. Pagenaud won the Formula Atlantic championship driving for Walker in 2006.

Since then, Walker Racing has raced in Indy Lights (2009-10) before Walker shifted into the team manager positions.

Position of F1 start lights altered to compensate for safety halo

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The position of start lights will be altered on Formula One tracks this season, in a bid to ensure the drivers’ line of vision is not impeded by the controversial halo protection device.

The halo is a titanium structure introduced this year in a bid to ramp up driver safety, forming a ring around the cockpit top. It is designed to protect the drivers’ head from loose debris and offer better safety during eventual collisions.

Although drivers largely understand the need for it, very few like it. They are worried it impedes visibility, it looks ugly and also that fans will no longer be able to identify a driver properly from his race helmet. Drivers also take longer to climb in and out of their cars.

Formula One’s governing body has addressed concerns and asked every circuit “to make the lights at a standard height above the track,” FIA race director Charlie Whiting said.

“Pole position seems to be the worst case scenario with the halo,” Whiting added at the season-opening Australian GP. “Maybe the driver can’t quite see the lights, or see only half of them, and he might have to move his head too much.”

The new start lights were positioned lower for Friday’s first two practice sessions at Albert Park. Drivers were also allowed the rare chance to rehearse grid starts at the end of both sessions.

“We haven’t normally allowed practice starts on the grid here because it’s quite a tight timetable,” Whiting said. “What I thought would be a good idea was to give the driver sight of those lights, rather than for the first time on Sunday evening.”

A repeat set of lights has been moved from its usual position halfway up the grid to a more convenient position to the left.

“Those repeat lights were normally halfway up the grid, and they were fitted round about 2009, when the rear wings became higher on the cars,” Whiting said. “But now the wings have been lowered, there’s no need for those halfway up the grid.”